What’s Left for Classic Muppet Bonus Features?

Michael Wermuth – Just this past December, Disney released the last of the theatrically-released Muppet movies on Blu-ray (the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted doesn’t count yet). Most of the theatrical Muppet films have had three DVD releases total, some with more bonus features and some with less. Many of the Blu-ray releases have included most of the bonus features from the original DVDs (the majority of which were left off of the 2005 releases) plus additional bonus features (and in two cases carrying over the “Pepe’s Profiles” interviews from the 2005 releases). But after all these releases, is there anything left to include as bonus features?

The answer, as the most die-hard fans reading this (as well as those who can figure out from the article’s title) can probably predict, is yes.

So what is there, exactly? Well, the “original trilogy” of Muppet films (the ones Jim Henson did) all lack audio commentary. Don’t know why the Henson films get the shaft in this department while all of the others have commentary. There’s all kinds of commentaries that could be done, from the performers and other people involved to commentaries by the Muppets themselves. In fact I’d even be interested in seeing an official commentary track recorded by Muppet fans.

And there’s also deleted scenes, depending on what deleted scenes still exist. Even though deleted scenes from The Muppet Movie most likely no longer exist, there is additional footage from the 1987 UK VHS release. There’s a lot of deleted scenes from The Muppets not on that Blu-Ray (there’s proof of that in the various trailers). I would be surprised if none of the deleted scenes from Muppets From Space exist, since that movie came out shortly after DVDs had become popular and deleted scenes common for inclusion. While it may not be that common a DVD feature, I’d like to see drafts of the movie scripts on DVD or Blu-ray. Trailers would also be great, for the films that have not had their trailers on DVD. What I’d especially be interested in is seeing the original theatrical trailer for The Great Muppet Caper (the only Muppet movie where no theatrical trailer has surfaced online at all… On that note I’d also like to see the official The Muppets Take Manhattan trailer, though the teaser trailer would be nice as well).

And speaking of The Great Muppet Caper, why must every release of that film lack movie-specific features? That’s the one that Jim Henson directed, one of my favorites, and the only features on the DVDs are Muppet material with otherwise nothing to do with the movie (though the Blu-ray does have two songs as “Frog-E-Oke”, the closest thing to Caper-related bonus features). So most likely no behind-the-scenes footage exists, but there could be a photo gallery, the clip from The Secrets of the Muppets where Jim Henson describes how the bicycle scene was done, and of course there’s the special The Muppets Go to the Movies.

When it comes to movie-specific features for the other movies, The Muppets Go Hollywood should be a no-brainer for another release of The Muppet Movie (hopefully the use of all those celebrities wouldn’t be a problem for a commercial release). The Muppets Take Manhattan could include the “I’m Gonna Always Love You” music video and maybe also the six-minute behind-the-scenes special that aired on HBO. Back when The Muppet Christmas Carol was released I recall seeing a number of interviews with the Muppets about it which aired between programming on Disney Channel (I don’t think this is even noted on Muppet Wiki). There was a behind-the-scenes documentary for Muppet Treasure Island produced for that movie’s DVD, but why not also include “The Making of Muppet Treasure Island” special that aired on The Disney Channel in 1996? Or the entire “Muppet Sing-Alongs” video promoting the movie (as opposed to just one song clip)?

Disney will most likely re-release all of the Muppet films on DVD, Blu-ray, and/or whatever new video formats come out in the future again and again someday. And although it’ll probably take some years before any of them gets another release, I hope Disney sees this article and keeps my suggestions in mind until then (well, Disney doesn’t have control over releasing The Muppets Take Manhattan or Muppets From Space on DVD, at least not currently, so hopefully Sony will see this as well).

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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