BJ Wanlund – Before I overanalyze the new Muppet Babies teaser material (like the true hardcore fanatic I am), a lot of people will want to know my particular bona fides of being a fan of the Muppet Babies, and probably the Muppets in general. I grew up watching both Sesame Street AND the original Muppet Babies, both in first-run. But the original Muppet Babies was the show that just grabbed me and showed me how I could have an imagination and all of these incredible things that I have taken with me into adulthood, including a healthy sci-fi fandom.
I also have EVERY Muppet Babies VHS release of just the episodes (and maybe the go bye bye segments if you were lucky) which took me literally years to acquire a complete set because of one particularly hard-to-find Muppet Babies tape that I only found maybe a year, year and a half ago on a lucky eBay auction find. Couldn’t find that “Gonzo’s Video Show / I Want My Muppet TV” tape out in the wild for whatever reason. Kept looking, and looking, and looking, to no avail, till I found an eBay auction (from my old home state of North Carolina, no less) that had a bunch of kids’ VHS tapes, with one of them being THAT tape.
So, now that you have gotten to know me a little bit better, let’s dive into all this amazing Muppet Babies stuff based on two basically minute-or-so-long teaser clips posted online a day or so ago. One thing that is not going to be obvious from these screengrabs is the amazing background music they used. I think if they’re going to re-do the original theme tune, that would be EPIC and amazing and you’ll probably see me with tears of pure unadulterated joy in my eyes.
(Also, by the way, I literally have 20 screengrabs. I am THAT dedicated to overanalyzing the scant amount of new Muppet Babies information)
I don’t know whether they’ll actually have the red Muppet Show curtains or whether this was just for the Good Morning America teaser, but this is incredible. In case you were wondering, I will absolutely be making comments about the voices we hear in a little bit here.
It’s the playroom now? Not the nursery like in the original? Okay, I’m okay with that, as it’s a good and needed change.
Really, I only screenshotted this to show off the Baby Kermit Flail. Seriously.
Two things: First, I am seriously shocked that this is the first time we have a baby Muppet penguin in the playroom/nursery. Secondly, I love her character design. If they made her an adult Muppet, that would be amazing.
Oh no… are they going to have outdoor play happening too?! I mean that was a small-ish part of the original too, but usually they brought those outdoor activities IN to the nursery/playroom. If the backyard’s going to be an extension of the playroom/nursery, then that’s another much-needed change. If they’re just using that for the teaser, then that’s kind of a gigantic waste.
From this angle, most of the character designs don’t look entirely awful. That’s a good thing, that they’ve seemingly taken their time in getting these designs RIGHT.
Do rainbows signify friendship in this new Muppet Babies universe? I certainly hope so.
The new logo! Also this is the end of the GMA teaser, but I have to wonder if that skyline in the background means anything, or whether that will be established in the first episode or two.
This is from the other video put up introducing Summer Penguin (and personally I wouldn’t be surprised if this was from either the first episode OR the intro to the show). Finally, a good look at Baby Kermie’s sailor suit. I am SO glad they brought that back!
Holy cow, Baby Piggy looks creepy. But it looks like they more or less kept the original Muppet Babies design aesthetic, which is a good thing! (I have more speculation/questions later though.)
Honestly, I like the Gonzo/Fozzie looks, but they probably overextended Gonzo’s nose juuuuust a touch. (That might lend itself a lot more to the best part of the original Muppet Babies: Gonzo’s nose getting in his way a lot, with a proper sound effect to boot.)
… Scratch what I just said, it looks a little bit better in closeup.
Fozzie has wiggling ears!! Fozzie has wiggling ears!!! And they kept HIS design pretty close to the original show too!!
Animal… I don’t know what to think. Looks good, buuuuuut… are they going to be a little closer in age ranges this time?
Another good look at Summer Penguin’s main outfit. Looks like they nailed her design aesthetic in every single way.
One good thing about this particular video (the interview about Summer Penguin that was posted online) is that the footage here that I am taking screenshots from looks so much more like it’ll be in an episode. This in particular gives me a GREAT deal of hope that this will be a large, large portion of the show, just like it was in the original Muppet Babies.
Holy accurate looking Kermie expression, Batman! Plus, from THIS screengrab, it looks like their imaginations will still play a fairly key role in the show. PHEW.
Notice what I am pointing to here. That is a baby-sized version of Animal’s drum set from the Electric Mayhem! Did they just toss that in as an Easter egg? Or is that a sure fire sign that music will be just as big a part of THIS show as it was in the original?
I just took this screengrab because of the costumes. I love where this is going, especially if this is an imagination-centric show again.
And if I wasn’t certain of the imagination aspect returning? THIS, right here, is proof POSITIVE that it is returning in full force. I have no expectations that Disney is planning to screw this up nearly as much as I had feared.
And now that we’ve thoroughly exhausted all 20 screenshots… let’s talk about the stuff that they DIDN’T mention.
First… that March/spring date I’ve heard thrown around is awfully, awfully soon to only NOW be throwing marketing muscle out there for this. Why now? Why are they just tossing this out there and hoping it won’t die? Why aren’t they talking MERCHANDISE (especially toys and T-shirts, both adult- and kid-sized)? Is that going to be coming next month? Because I don’t want this revival to fail, this is particularly galling to me that they’re only NOW tossing out some marketing trial balloons.
Second, regarding merchandise, will the original show and some of its merchandise be brought back in some fashion? I’d KILL for T-shirts with the original Michael Frith designs in the old-school cel animation style. I’d LOVE to see the Muppet Babies Toyland Train return, both in the ‘classic’ form and whatever new form it takes. I’d love to see the two original Muppet Babies records (Rocket to the Stars and Music is Everywhere) to get reissued on vinyl, WITH digital download codes!
Third, I would especially love it if Disney was secretly remastering Muppet Babies and getting the masters exactly right for a DVD / Digital HD release of the complete original series. I think many of those early episodes will be a revelation to many fans who came in during the latter half of the original show’s 7-season run.
Finally, whom among the original show’s cast and production staff are slated to return? It certainly sounded like Laurie O’Brien is back as Baby Piggy, and the fact that they reused many of the original Michael K. Frith designs for the costumes of the Muppet Babies makes me think that at least some of the production staff, like Hank Saroyan and Michael K. Frith, will be coming back. We haven’t heard too much of the writing on this version, but could Jeffrey Scott and some of the other writers from the original series be coming back? Holy moly. But who else is slated to reprise roles? And who else will be utilized on this new Muppet Babies in some form or fashion? We’ll soon find out!