BREAKING NEWS: The latest MuppetsHenson Poll is coming to a close. Get your vote in now ! We want to know if you plan on seeing Brian Henson's R-Rated Puppet movie, "The Happytime Murders" when it is released in theatres on August 24th? Please let us know what you think. The Poll can be found near the top of the right sidebar.

Menu

Monday, July 30, 2018

'The Muppets Take The O2' Review By King Richard76

As I write this I’m just leaving Shenfield train station enroute to London to get to the World famous o2 for an event that this forty two year old never thought he would experience, the emotions running through me at the moment are a mixture of excitement, trepidation, wonder with a sense of adventure surging through me, this isn’t to see some Hollywood one shot wonder because they are bigger than Hollywood, nor is it a musical artist because they have made many musicals, even with their cute and generous size they are at the heigh (ho) of their career. 

I am of course going to be meeting the Muppets at the o2 tonight, yes, thanks to my Catwoman Fiancée (gifting it to me as an early birthday present) I have a meet and greet with the Muppets- the only information I have thus far (officially) is that it will be with Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends… But what friends? How long will the meet and greet be? 

As I write this, its two days after the initial meet and greet and to be honest, I feel like I’ve awoken from the best dream possible, the first real bit of Magick I experienced on Friday was when I was in the o2 itself, I had just been interviewed by an Irish radio station (RTE) 

Friday started off in a very interesting way, the night before I had painted my nails Kermit green, I’d donned my Kermit onesie which I’ve worn for nearly every Muppet encounter I’ve had, and a pair of jeans that I last wore during the taping of when Kermit and Constantine were on the Alan Carr show, my rucksack was getting heavy, and I nearly decided to take out my iPad (thankfully I didn’t *) my Kermit Muppet, and Miss Piggy and Gonzo dolls went in, as did a small bag of goodies for Dave (Goelz) and made my way to the bus stop. 

On the bus, I chatted with the driver who when I told him I’m going to be seeing the Muppets made a rather political joke stating that the British Prime Minister and American President reminded him of Statler and Waldorf, this was fun to hear, once of the bus I'd gone to HMV and picked up the ‘We’re doing a best of The Muppets.’ Cd afterwards I went to the train station and began to plan the rest of my journey to the o2, once in London I made a detour to Westminster where I made my way to get onto one of the riverboats (before now when I’ve been to anywhere in London or indeed ever gone to the o2 I’ve always gone by tube but today was a very special day for all kinds of reasons. So I decided to get a river boat) as the boat rushed me along the River Thames I couldn't help but think of all the wonderful moments that would be ahead of me, we’d finally arrived at our destination and so I made my way to the o2 itself, a quick bag/security search was done and in I went, saw a few fellow Muppet fans sitting down and then went to find the toilets where I sloshed some cold water all over myself to be refreshed with, once out of the bathroom I sat down with the Muppet fans, started to charge up my iPhone and presently a chap from RTE came over and started interviewing me. 

Bit later on I went to the merchandise stall and with some money gifted to me by my other half I bought one or two bits of merchandise then went for another sit down, and who should walk by? Only Matt!!!!!!! Was I really the only Muppet fan who recognised him? And then Jane (Gootnick) walked past too!!! No one batted an eyelid, they had both gone to the merchandise stall, on her way back I said hi, she remembered me from the Muppets Most Wanted prem, and on his way back I had a quick chat with Matt, we spoke briefly about him being Kermit and how wonderful a job I thought he was doing - I guess it was quite something that the man responsible with continuing Jim Hensons legacy and arguably the Worlds greatest well known character could walk about without being recognised (apart from a rare few who knew what Matt looks like) but without Kermit on his hand :)

 About an hour later the number of us who were lining up outside the VIP meet and greet assembly point had risen, I was first in line and started chatting to a number of the vip hosts who told us more or less what would be happening, a table came out with specially designed Meet and Greet lanyards and a tote bag which inside had a glossy of a number of the Muppets, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and a plethora of others which I guess was for us to get signed, although the programme had two pages dedicated to Dave, Matt, Eric, Bill, Peter and David too. 

Whilst we were all getting ready to have our bags searched and checked one of the special guest stars of the night, none other than Doctor Who himself, David Tennant walked past us, I said a quick ‘Hi David.’ Had also noticed Peter (Linz) had come from the opposite direction and had walked past us all. 

The time had come for us to be escorted through the hallowed halls of the o2, through a rabbit warren that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in Labyrinth, this was uncharted territory knowing that soon I would be reunited with those wonderful performers who I’ve met briefly before and meeting new ones, we then had to wait in the penultimate corridor and as I was first through I noticed the guys through the doors lining up getting ready to come through, I waved at Dave and Bill who waved back, this was really going to happen, in the meantime Kirk (Thatcher) had come out I had a quick chat with him after he jokingly said ‘I’m not famous!’ Lol, I asked him if he would sign my pic, he told me he would on the way back (I dont know if he was going to the toilet or had to do some last minute rehearsals) in the meantime, the excitement was at fever pitch as the doors opened and out came Matt, Eric, Dave, Bill, Peter and David, I was in a state of ultimate pure Muppetdom at that point seeing the guys all like that. 

A whole heap of pleasantries were exchanged: 

Matt: How are you? Good to see you again, how’ve you been? Dave (Goelz): Nice to see you- this is King Richard! 
Peter: King Richard? 
Dave: Yeah. 
Me: (Surrounded by the guys) This is one of the best moments of my entire life. 
Dave: Awwwwwww! 
Bill: We’re having a good time. 
Dave: I saw you in October. How’ve you been? 
Bill: (Whilst in Pepes voice) I give you a hug. 

I like to think that Jim Henson was there watching over these proceedings and looking over us. 

Once the others had their bits signed they went through to the VIP lounge, I also had a bit more time with the guys as we said hi again, I then picked my stuff up and went through to the lounge still in quite a state of shock, knowing that the best was still yet to come, other fans were just sitting down in the lounge are just chilling out checking their phones whilst the friendly bar tender was popping bottles of beer for those needing a cool refreshment. 

I started to line up for THE queue of all queues, the moment those of us who had VIP meet and greets were really there for, it was the queue to get our photos taken with THE MUPPETS!!!!!!! As the queue went along the utter excitement was clearly there, above the noise of the crowd I could make out hearing Kermits voice, this made what was about to happen even more better, once out and by the room we were going into I had to make a quick decision- what would be a better device to take THE picture with? iPhone or iPad? I asked the two ladies behind me and they suggested iPad, I asked the vip host and she said iPad, that's when I put my stuff down and took out my iPad, took off my jacket etc and went in to the room of all rooms, there in front of me were THE GUYS!!!!!!! 

A professional photographer from Pinewood was there and it was him I gave my iPad to whilst holding my iPhone, Jane Gootnick complimented my Tshirt and admittedly the next part was kind of a blur, Dave said ‘Hi Richard, I like that sweatshirt-’ ‘Oh my God!’ I exclaimed as I went up to Miss Piggy and SHE actually spoke to me, admittedly I did touch her hair, and her snout until Dave gave me a friendly piece of advice ‘Kermit is going to get mad at you!’ Lol, in the group picture Miss Piggy had placed her left hook on my Kermit the Frog tshirt/sweatshirted chest, I remember joking to others later that ‘Yep, that will make the tabloids! Miss Piggy in other man shocker whilst Kermit is RIGHT there.’ 

As the professional photographer took the pictures with my iPad, I had my iPhone in my hand and I was going to grasp this opportunity to get what I so wished for for so long, and I asked Dave if I could get a selfie with MY HERO! The Great Gonzo! It happened, it actually happened, I got the selfie, that was a real moment for me, and even now (since that happened a week ago I changed my wallpaper on my iPhone from when I met Mark Hamill when he visited my hometown last year to THE selfie with the King of Weird, Gonzo) I was so elated, I said bye to the guys then made my way out of the vip area, spoke to the host and said I needed a drink, so I picked up my bits and pieces and made my way to the VIP lounge bar sat at the bar and ordered a cool and crisp Budweiser (although other beers are readily available) once it was opened I just sat there not quite believing what had just occurred, I got my #Catwoman figure, my Crystal, Kermit and Gonzo Muppet and Doll and took a selfie to capture the moment and went through the pictures the photographer had taken, Joseph, the bar tender liked them too. He also poured the beer into a plastic glass so I could take that into the arena itself when the VIP host told me it was time to go. 

Once out of the vip area I made my way into the arena, found my seat which interestingly was right on the aisle, which would be perfect and made myself comfortable, eager fans of all ages were dotted all around me and we just chatted about this wonderful experience - whatever the next two or three hours had in store for us we knew this much, that it would be an experience of a lifetime.

Just after eight o'clock the arena lights went down and the chatting subdued, a tingle of excitement could be felt, the first thing we saw was the set for the opening intro, a drumroll played out which saw a massive whooping and cheering from the crowd, the spotlight hit Sam Eagle as he hit the stage being expertly performed by Eric, this right there was when I realised how awesome this show was going to be, seeing the Muppet Performers bring their Magick to life, within the first few seconds there was a nod to current affairs which the younger audience members wouldn’t have got but those knowing of global issues would have laughed at, at this point Sam was joined on stage by Scooter, David did a fine job at this and then after the brief intro ‘Cue the other nonsense…’ 

The squeals of utter delight as the beginning theme of the Muppet Show played out whilst characters of old introduced as new to delighted newcomers danced and frolicked on stage, Miss Piggy, Janice, Link, et al made their way through to the infamous arches whilst overhead a massive led screen with the rest of the Muppets was played - the atmosphere was beyond electric and we all knew we were in for the time of our lives, Statler and Waldorf sequences were prerecorded and played out during scene and Muppet changes, and then Kermit ably assisted by Matt came out to welcome us all and it was fascinating seeing the expressions on Matts face as he was performing Kermit, the next crowdpleaser came when during Kermits intro Gonzo joined Kermit onstage and spoke about going to the Tower of London: 

Gonzo: Do I have time to go to the Tower of London? 
Kermit: Right now? 
Gonzo: Yeah they have a great spa there. 
Kermit: Spa? 
Gonzo: (To audience) Their iron maiden is fantastic! 
Kermit: Gonzo, that is not a spa. 

(Tyler Bunch appears in a black hood) 

Gonzo: That's Reggie, my masseur. 
Kermit: Go, just be back for your number. 
Gonzo: Thank you. Hey Reggie, just want you to know, by the way, my safe word is Lichtenstein. 

Admittedly there didn’t seem to be many who got that last joke but I just cracked up, shortly Kermit was joined by Scooter and then cue the entrance of entrances by Miss Piggy herself, the banter was like old school Muppets and it just felt as though we the audience were there in the real Muppet theatre of old, seeing production number after production number, fan favourites and many a nod to England and the o2 - including Kermit talking about how England is very close to the Muppets hearts considering that's where the Muppet Show was filmed. 

There was a hysterical sketch with Charles Dances es, quoting ‘William bleedin Wordsworth’ much to the dislike of Pepe which culminated with a bunch of young and nubile dancers taking part in a massive rave and showing how bored they were with Wordsworth, then Charles said ‘Dance’ and so everyone did, including to much amusement Charles dancing himself. 

Another highlight was Pigs in Space, and David Tennant coming aboard the swine trek in his iconic role as Doctor Who, to the sound effect of the Tardis, and a bit later on sounds of the sonic screwdriver playing out, after a bit of interplay with Miss Piggy, Link and Julius Link was regenerated into all the doctors from over the years who've played the iconic Timelord, and ending with the latest incarnation, Jodie Whittaker. 

During the interval just after Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem performed a radical set, the drum kit and set up was a photo shoot must that saw fans of all ages swarm to the front row, excited adults getting selfies with Animals drum kit (Yeah, I bet even if Keith Moon were there he'd have squealed with delight) geeky parents taking pics of their kids, this was such a friendly environment, there was a lady who introduced herself to me (we knew each other from Muppet Guys Talking below stage pass) and we had a quick chat, there was another lady who had her son with her, he was clearly very excited and his eyes lit up when I asked if he’d like a pic with my Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, his Mum took the picture. 

This show was written with both a real love for the Muppets and the British audience, evident from how was very clear for all to hear and see - this was a real wonderful boost of nostalgia for those of us who grew up with the shenanigans of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzie and the madness that ensued not only in camera frame but the camaraderie between the Muppet performers below frame. 

And its the Muppet performers who should be celebrated, I was luckily very close to the stage and not only was it a delight to see Matt, Dave and Eric perform with much loved characters, but also see the expressions on their faces, one personal favourite was their rendition just after the interval of Bohemian Rhapsody, seeing the silhouette of Dave, Julianne and the other performers get Gonzo and his harem of chicken into the air, also another thing noting is that NOT ONLY did the splendid performers, both perform and rush about like headless chickens (Sorry Camilla) to get their menagerie of characters on stage but all the songs were performed live as well. 

Very often its the performers who wrongly get overlooked for their artistry and skill in bringing felt characters to life and bringing with it such wonderful emotions - and so I felt it was very fitting that at the very end, it wasn’t the guest stars, Kevin Bishop, Charles Danceses, David Tennant and Kylie Minogue that got the final bow… No. It was the performers themselves, and then the core performers gave their final bow, it was quite a moment when Bobby Moynehan said, ‘Featuring, David Rudman, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson!’ 

As a great man once infamously said, ‘My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.’ 

Many thanks to my #Catwoman fiancée for gifting me the meet and greet VIP golden ticket of a lifetime and encouraging to fulfill my lifetimes ambition, Dave Goelz for making me proud to be a weirdo and getting that selfie with Gonzo, Matt Vogel for doing a perfect job with everyone's favourite frog, Eric Jacobson for just being terrific, David Rudman for being fab, Peter Linz for being cool and getting a Pepe hug from Bill Barretta. 

And those who continue to keep Jim Hensons perpetual legacy in all our Hearts… And funny bones wocka wocka wocka! 







- KingRichard76, 
  29th July 2018  

'The Muppets Take The O2' Review By Nicholas Napoli

After a 2.5-hour flight from Gibraltar to London, I was ready to watch The Muppets take over the O2, all three times. If I was going to make a trip like this, I was going to absorb as much of the show as possible. I had never been to the O2 arena before, I had no idea what to expect or even if I was at the right place, until I spotted a Muppet Fan. A girl wearing Miss Piggy ears, a Miss Piggy t-shirt, a Miss Piggy backbag and even Miss Piggy shoes, walked right past me, I was definitely at the right place. As I walked around the O2 arena, I was happily surprised, I hadn’t considered this to be a Muppet Fan convention but that was exactly where I was. Multiple people walked past me, wearing their favourite Muppet, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock t-shirts and the most interesting thing for me, was the fact that I had no idea many of these designs existed. One guy had Uncle Deadly dancing in a tuxedo under a spotlight, it looked stunning. Another girl walked around wearing her Snowth backbag, I had to stop and ask to look at it, I had seen it online once and it was really expensive, I was jealous. Other Fans even came dressed as their favourite characters, I saw a couple dressed in full body Fozzie and Gonzo costumes, they looked amazing, as did others dressed as Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Kermit, amongst others, in their own unique fashionable ways. 

I had ordered my tickets through Ticketmaster, they had not arrived on time, they had been sent to the actual venue for collection on the day instead. Until I didn’t have those tickets in my hand, I did not feel at ease getting excited for a show there might be a chance, I might not get to see. As I made my way to the ticket desk, I got distracted along the way, there was a tiny store, filled with The Muppet Take The O2 merchandise. As I looked around, whilst deciding what to buy, I suddenly realized I was standing next to Matt Vogel, he too was casually standing amongst fans buying Muppet merchandise, this got me so excited, for some reason I bought two of everything. The line on Friday was not that long, but the show did start at 18:30 and I was already there by 16:00. As time got closer to the show, a much longer line began to form outside the tiny store. A queue so long, that it exceeded past the zig-zag barriers that kept the line in form. The next day the line was even longer, specifically during the manatee show, which was when most parents had come, along with their children. A big fail on the merchandise side, was the fact that there were no Muppet plush toys for sale, not even Kermits and Miss Piggys. I saw so many children carrying their own home- brought Kermit soft toys, a few even had this really good looking small full-bodied Kermit puppet, it looked amazing, I had no idea this had been available, I have to try and find it. Most children carried only Kermit and Fozzie soft toys, on occasion a Miss Piggy, Gonzo or Animal, we need a bigger selection of Muppet character plush toys to choose from. I’m sure had this store had Muppet plush toys of an assortment of characters, this is exactly the kind of place where they would sell out. 

The best thing I bought was a copy of The Muppets Take The O2 Programme book, it’s a nice souvenir and also very interesting. At the back of the book it lists bios for all of the main performers, not only are they given the recognition they honourably deserve but it also credits their work on Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and other past and upcoming Jim Henson projects. 

I find this very admirable
as it promotes The Muppets as being created by Jim Henson, even the book is dedicated in his honour, this is a truly special, Muppet item to have. Oddly enough the actual Muppet character bios list them all as still working on Up Late With Miss Piggy, I found that interestingly odd. At the end of the book there’s a beautiful illustration, I wish would have also been available as a poster. After I collected my ticket, I was eager to look through my new book, I sat at an open restaurant, I ordered a burger and started looking through the pages. Around me others were also reading their books, then inside the O2 arena other fans were reading their books too, some sat at restaurants, others on benches, on the floor or even standing in line waiting for the gates to open. 

As I walked around the O2 arena I bumped into many old friends and familiar faces, which I had first met back in 2012 and had not seen since. I met, spoke and became friends with some of these people waiting in line at a Muppet signing with Kermit and Pepe, held at HMV, promoting the DVD release of The Muppets (2011). Other’s I recognized from 2012’s Muppet signing but had never had the pleasure to speak too, this time around, I spoke with many Muppet Fans. This part alone was one of the many highlights of this trip for me, back home, unless online, I don’t get to have these discussions, for the second time in my life, I was luckily stuck inside the same room as a bunch of people who I could speak to about Muppets! Many shared pictures of their collections, visits to historic Jim Henson and Muppet Landmarks and some even shared their amazing homemade Muppet replicas. 


Eventually the gates opened and that’s when I realized this was an almost sold out show, I had never been amongst such a large group of people ever in my life before. As we made our way to the actual theatre I could begin to feel that Muppet rush, I’ve always felt since I was a child, starting to kick in, I was getting ready to watch The Muppet Show Live! As a child, watching my best of The Muppet Show VHS tapes, I never thought I’d actually ever experience the real thing, and today I was. The next night had a much bigger audience, probably a sold-out theatre from what I could see, both in the afternoon and the evening shows. As I admired the Muppet Show stage, I realized Kirk Thatcher was being greeted by fans on the other side of where I was seated. I had my autograph book with me, I had wanted to speak to him since I was ten years old, after having watched Muppet Treasure Island, the child in me always wondered why Uncle Deadly had not been a pirate? I have so much respect for Kirk Thatcher, he has learned from the great Jerry Juhl, the Muppets best writer. Long devoted performers as well as long devoted Muppet writers, those are the keys to a successful Muppet production, as both The Muppets Hollywood Bowl and The Muppets Take The O2 have proven to show. After ten minutes I found the courage, got up from my seat, made my way over to Kirk Thatcher, excitedly dropped my Kermit faced autograph book on his foot, and introduced myself to him. 

Finally, the moment we had all travelled to the O2 arena for, had finally arrived, it was time to light the lights, it was time to meet the Muppets, on The Muppet Show tonight! The opening theme to the original The Muppet Show began to play, right in front of my very eyes and suddenly the excitement I’ve always felt for the Muppets, ever since I was a little kid, came back in full force, something I have very much missed in recent years. As the show progressed I realized this was the first time, in a long time, I felt as though I were watching The Muppets again, my excitement was sky high, I don’t get that feeling at work, but the Muppets, as they do for everyone, reminds me of my childhood. During the opening number, we’re surprised by the fact that Bobby Moynihan, was reprising his role from The Hollywood Bowl show. This guy has great chemistry with the Muppets, he truly treats them as if they’re his real co-stars, I’m glad he continues to work alongside the Muppets. On both days, excluding Bobby Moynihan, different guest stars joined The Muppets on stage, making each day, a different experience, although honestly, I was just there for The Muppets. 

The Muppets Take The O2 had a British theme, which was very fun, there were British Bobbies, a British Bunny, British Hair and even a British crying Muppet Football performed by Mike Quinn. 
I wasn’t sure how the audience was going to react to this, luckily it’s The Muppets, everyone broke out laughing. Classic revived sketches returned including Pigs In Space, Muppet Labs, The Swedish Chef’s Kitchen and even a pre-recorded new sketch of an updated Vets Hospital. We’ve already had new Pigs In Space episodes revived back in 2016, hope we get more new Vets Hospital episodes throughout 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if this particular one gets an official release online, spoiler alert… Nurse Yolanda makes a cameo appearance. One of my favourite sketches growing up was “Mahna-Mahna” and watching it play out live in front of me was truly amazing. Bill Barretta is incredible, as he runs from side to side, performing Mahna-Mahna yet also managing to stay out of shot all at the same time. Bill would run all the way back into the distance, only to run back up, joining the Snowths again, then appearing on one side, running to the other,

Bill was everywhere on stage, it’s not easy being a Muppeteer. What I really enjoyed about this sketch, was that it was finally somewhat different from what we always expect. This time around, Mahna-Mahna actually left the stage and didn’t come back, no phone call, no nothing, Scooter was left to walk back on stage wondering what was going on. I was so intrigued after so many years, I’m always expecting to see what’s going to happen next but this time I had no idea. Scooter manages to find someone, on both nights to replace the role of Mahna-Mahna as the Snowths continued to sing their song.


On the first night I was sat in Row B3, considering how big the O2 arena is, I assumed this row had a great view of the stage and it did. However, I was there to witness the Muppeteers performing the actual Muppets, I wasn’t interested in watching this on screen, I wanted to watch the actual performers bringing these characters to life. On the screen what I saw was what we’d get to see on tv, I wanted the live experience. Luckily the next day I was sat in Row A4, and this is when I truly enjoyed the show, I could see the performers as they moved their characters around, I could see their mouths moving, the characters live in front of me, what an amazing experience. I think it would be a good idea to use one screen to show the full performance (including the performers) and the second screen with only The Muppet, it is very interesting seeing them both play out at the same time. On occasions Statler and Waldorf would appear on both screens, heckling the show, as though they were sitting amongst the audience. I got so caught up in this Muppet show experience, that a part of me was expecting to find Statler and Waldorf sat somewhere amongst the crowd during intermission, I eventually realized these were pre-recorded clips. I would have personally have loved to have seen Statler and Waldorf watching down on the Muppet show from their balcony box, the same way it’s done at Muppet Vision 3D. I remember seeing that as a child, it was one of my biggest highlights having visited Disney World. 


Having watched videos online of The Hollywood Bowl, there were a few sketches I hoped would return this time around, specifically Eric’s Jacobson’s amazing performance, alongside others as Miss Piggy in a full-bodied song and dance number, inspired by Adel. I had watched this online multiple times, but watching it live was completely different, what a rush. Another sketch I hoped would return was Kermit performing Happy Feet, which to my lucky delight did return, beautifully performed by Matt Vogel, and I believe John Kennedy, keeping both of Kermit’s legs and arms on rhythm at the same time together, looking as one dancing real frog is tricky. I’m glad Peter Linz was able to bring back Walter, I missed him in The Muppets (2015). David Rudman is helping develop Scooter as a character, this is very welcomed, I’m glad Scooter’s growth as a character continues, as does his admiration for his Mom and his hatred towards Ken. I have so much respect for Dave Goelz, in my child eyes, he’s the last standing of the three original performers, the last Muppeteer who participated in the opening hot air balloon sequence in The Great Muppet Caper. I remember when I was little, one of my favourite video tapes, which I’d watch night after night, was the playhouse series “Gonzo Presents Muppet Weird Stuff”. The man who sang “I’m going to go back there someday”, this talented individual was performing live before my eyes, what an amazing thrill. 


Wayne and Wanda performed live, before getting attacked by a shark, Uncle Deadly and Miss Piggy’s friendship continues to grow, The Muppets parody Dr Who but one of the biggest highlights for me, was watching The Electric Mayhem perform live, most notably singing “Can You Picture That”. The Electric Mayhem performed their first live concert at Outside Lands Music Festival in 2016. Whilst in San Francisco, clips were filmed, particularly those involving Floyd and Janice, I find the cinematography here amazing, this is how I would personally like the next Muppet movie to look like. Sadly, this was also one of Steve Whitmire’s last performances, which I was reminded of when I realized Rizzo had not made an appearance on stage throughout the whole night. Considering the unfortunate situation regarding Steve Whitmire, I’m glad Rizzo has not been rushed to be recast, I find that very respectful. I truly hope Rizzo returns in the future, growing up in the 90’s, sometimes I felt as though Gonzo and Rizzo were the main characters in The Muppets, what a sad situation this continues to be. 


Near the end of the show Scooter appears, getting ready to introduce Kermit the Frog, when all of a sudden Bobo Bear interrupts him on stage. I was happily surprised at how loud the crowd cheered when Bobo showed up. Bobo Bear has quietly become a fan favourite and his random appearance on stage was very welcomed and enjoyable. At first, he asked Scooter if he had seen his car keys and later asked him if he still had a receipt for the pyjamas he bought him for his last birthday, apparently he wanted to exchange them. I have a feeling this was mostly improvised, it felt so naturally funny. Kermit is then about to begin singing The Rainbow Connection when suddenly Bobo Bear makes a second surprise appearance. This was very enjoyable as it led us into The Rainbow Connection as the audience laughed together, this was probably my favourite part. As Kermit begins to sing, other Muppet start joining him on stage, as do the guest stars and soon I come to realize that behind me, fans have turned on the flashlights on their phones, creating one of the most beautiful Muppet scenes I’ve ever seen in my entire life, this was breath-taking. 


The show then came to an end but the audience wanted more, we wanted an encore, and so we continued to clap, we continued to call out for The Muppets, I felt as though I were an audience member in the opening of The Muppets Take Manhattan. The curtains then open once more and everybody joins on stage for The Muppets big closing musical number, singing “With a little help from my friends”. This was truly a Muppet experience, this was a team effort, a full team that needs to stick together, for whatever it is the Muppets can do next, the magic is in the performance of this group of people, that is what we call The Muppet Show. 



- Nicholas Napoli

Friday, July 13, 2018

Casting for Big Bird Documentary

A production company in Los Angeles is currently working with Sesame Workshop on a short documentary about Big Bird and looking for stories to share.

They’re looking for amazing real-life stories or anecdotes from parents, kids, and fans of all ages who Big Bird has had a positive impact on, from teachable moments to nostalgic ones to getting themselves or their kids through a difficult time. In other words, what are your favorite Big Bird stories? If you have a fun, heart-warming, funny or inspiring story that relates to Big Bird, they want to hear from you! E-mail Colleen at colleen@matadorcontent.com for more info.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New! Muppet Babies: The Series - Volume 1 Available on DVD August 14th


'The Muppets Take the 02" Merchandise Now Available Online

'The Muppets Take the O2' takes place this weekend in London! 

CLICK HERE to order any or all the merchandise that is available for this magical event.

Delivery is available to the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

Jim Henson’s “Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray in September

The Jim Henson created TV series “Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series” is finally coming to Blu-ray Disc on September 25th via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Tech specs include remastered HD video and lossless audio spanning across a 12-disc set. In other words: full 1080p HD video and DTS-HD Master Audio sound. No word yet on if they will be presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and if they’ll receive 5.1 treatment for the audio, but stay tuned for an update. The title is not yet available for pre-order over at Amazon yet either, so stay tuned for an update on that as well. The release is going to come in scrapbook packaging titled the “35th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” as you’ll see pictured above.

A rather lengthy amount of bonus materials set to be included on the release are listed below.
NEW: Fraggle Music Celebration
Celebrate your favorite Fraggle songs with sing-alongs for every episode or hit shuffle and let the Fraggles choose for you!
NEW: Life on Set: Moments with Jim Henson
NEW: 1993 “The Today Show” Segment featuring Uncle Travelling Matt
Down at Fraggle Rock: Behind the Scenes (48-minute version)
Fraggle Songs & Doozer Music
Interviews with Fraggle Rock Creators and Puppeteers
Seasons 2, 3 and 4 Overviews
Docs and Sprockets
“All Around the World” Music Video
Travelling Matt
20 Travelling Matt Segments
Special Tribute to Jerry Juhl
Scared Silly: Art Imitating Life
Production Design Featurette
Electro-Mechanical Puppetry
Doozer Design
How the Trash Heap Came to Be
Gorg Design
Interviews with Michael Frith, Kathy Mullen and Gerry Parkes
HBO Promos
You Cannot Leave the Magic: Excerpts from the Last Day of Shooting
Dance Your Cares Away: The Evolution of the Theme Song
The Inner Gorg: An Interview with the Performers Inside the Costumes
Let the Music Play: An Interview with Phil Balsam and Dennis Lee
Celebrating Fraggle Rock: Excerpts from the Wrap Party
Designing the Puppets: An Interview with the Puppet Makers
Directing the Fraggles: An Interview with Eric Till and George Bloomfield
Additional Interviews:
Dennis Lee with Mokey
Jerry Juhl with Gobo
Jocelyn Stevenson with Red and Mokey
Faz Fazakas with Cotterpin Doozer
A Minute with Travelling Matt
All 13 Episodes of Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series
Animated Series Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Animated Series Character Galleries
Animated Series Opening Scene Storyboards

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Iconic and Beloved Series,
From Creative Mastermind Jim HensonFRAGGLE ROCK:
THE COMPLETE SERIES

Debuting for the First Time on Blu-ray™ September 25
Featuring All 96 Episodes Fully Remastered in High Definition
and Presented with Lossless Audio in this 12 Disc Set

All-New Bonus Material Includes Sing-Alongs for Every Episode!


CULVER CITY, Calif. (July 11, 2018) – Join Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red in celebrating the 35th Anniversary of their beloved series when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment debuts FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES on Blu-ray™ for the first time September 25. Described by its legendary creator Jim Henson as “a high-energy, raucous musical romp,”Fraggle Rock stars a cast of puppet creatures called Fraggles, quirky cave-dwellers who live in an underground world alongside their industrious green neighbors, the Doozers, and a family of enormous Gorgs. The series follows the fun adventures of the furry subterranean creatures and features a unique mix of music from all genres including folk, blues, gospel, country and rock, all while embracing themes of friendship, tolerance, diversity and caring for the planet.

All 96 episodes in the 12-disc set from the show’s four seasons are fully remastered in high definition and presented with lossless audio on Blu-ray. This set is also available in special limited edition “scrapbook” packaging, featuring rare behind the scenes photos and an introduction from Uncle Travelling Matt.

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES is loaded with bonus content on Blu-ray, including the all-new “Fraggle Music Celebration,” where viewers can enjoy their favorite Fraggle songs with sing-alongs for every episode (100 songs!) or hit shuffle and let the Fraggles choose the songs. Also newly included on the Blu-ray set is a fun and rare personal glimpse behind the curtain with creator Jim Henson, plus a 1993 throwback segment from “The Today Show” featuring Uncle Travelling Matt, along with more than eight hours of archival special features, including interviews with the cast and crew, featurettes, promos and the complete “Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series.”

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES will also be available separately on digital and DVD, along with FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE ANIMATED SERIES.

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu-ray Synopsis:
Join Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red in celebrating the 35th anniversary for Fraggle Rock, from iconic creative mastermind Jim Henson. Catch all 96 episodes – now remastered in high definition – with this jam-packed Blu-ray™ set, featuring hours of special features and a behind-the-scenes scrapbook with an introduction from Uncle Travelling Matt!

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu-ray Bonus Features Include:
NEW: Fraggle Music Celebration
Celebrate your favorite Fraggle songs with sing-alongs for every episode or hit shuffle and let the Fraggles choose for you!
NEW: Life on Set: Moments with Jim Henson
NEW: 1993 “The Today Show” Segment featuring Uncle Travelling Matt
Down at Fraggle Rock: Behind the Scenes (48-minute version)
Fraggle Songs & Doozer Music
Interviews with Fraggle Rock Creators and Puppeteers
Seasons 2, 3 and 4 Overviews
Docs and Sprockets
“All Around the World” Music Video
Travelling Matt
20 Travelling Matt Segments
Special Tribute to Jerry Juhl
Scared Silly: Art Imitating Life
Production Design Featurette
Electro-Mechanical Puppetry
Doozer Design
How the Trash Heap Came to Be
Gorg Design
Interviews with Michael Frith, Kathy Mullen and Gerry Parkes
HBO Promos
You Cannot Leave the Magic: Excerpts from the Last Day of Shooting
Dance Your Cares Away: The Evolution of the Theme Song
The Inner Gorg: An Interview with the Performers Inside the Costumes
Let the Music Play: An Interview with Phil Balsam and Dennis Lee
Celebrating Fraggle Rock: Excerpts from the Wrap Party
Designing the Puppets: An Interview with the Puppet Makers
Directing the Fraggles: An Interview with Eric Till and George Bloomfield
Additional Interviews:
Dennis Lee with Mokey
Jerry Juhl with Gobo
Jocelyn Stevenson with Red and Mokey
Faz Fazakas with Cotterpin Doozer
A Minute with Travelling Matt
All 13 Episodes of Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series
Animated Series Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Animated Series Character Galleries
Animated Series Opening Scene Storyboards

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE ANIMATED SERIES Synopsis:
Based on the highly acclaimed live-action series, Fraggle Rock gets animated! The fun-loving Fraggles – Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and all their friends – explore new horizons, frolicking about in the wondrous maze of colorful caverns that make up the fantastic, fairy-tale landscape that the Fraggles call home. From Mokey’s search for the most Fragglish Fraggle to a journey down into the Deep Deep Dark Dark Deep Dark Pit to rescue Boober’s lucky Rag-Fraggle, experience Fraggle Rock like never before!

FRAGGLE ROCK: THE ANIMATED SERIES Bonus Features Include:
Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
Character Galleries
Opening Scene Storyboards

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Muppet Show Reboot By Nicholas Napoli

A few months ago, I read online, something that made me very happy, The Walt Disney Company, was considering rebooting The Muppets for the launch of their new streaming service in 2019. This made me happy for many reasons, the wait between The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight was 15 years, the wait between Muppets Tonight and The Muppets (2015) was 20 years. Luckily the wait between The Muppets (2015) and their newest show, will only be 3 years apart, can you believe it’s already been two years, since The Muppets (2015) was cancelled, where has the time gone? This move also shows how determined The Walt Disney Company are, when it comes to keeping the Muppets alive, and that I can appreciate. Fans and Non-Fans alike, are hoping, and expecting, a revival of the original The Muppet Show, when will The Muppets start listening to their fans? The Muppets (2015) was ambitious, brave and would have worked better, had it been The Muppets third season, as opposed to their first. The audience were tossed right into an ongoing storyline, we were no longer familiar with these characters, we had missed out on too much of their current lives, I for one couldn’t truly get invested. I believe, if you want to change The Muppets, not that this is necessary, but to do so, you must first give the audience something their familiar with, in our case, it’s The Muppet Show. Disney’s new streaming service, launching in 2019, promises a new Muppet reboot, I’m excited, nervous and intrigued by what we might get. 

The new Muppet Babies (2018) reboot, has proven to be a hit, for me it is clear why, clever storytelling, that is contained within Muppet continuity. The Muppets, as characters must remain true to who they are, this can’t be changed, Muppet Babies has captured these characters perfectly. Always go wild and wacky, when it comes to The Muppets, make them feel out of this world, not simply as part of our existence. Do not tone down the Muppets, to fit around their new surroundings, have their new surroundings adapt to The Muppets instead. If the Muppet Babies can be rebooted successfully after 27 years, I’m sure the same can be done, with The Muppet Show franchise. The premier season, in my opinion should continue doing, what the last series began to do, reintroducing everyone’s favourite Muppets to today’s generation, with a much larger cast of characters this time around. As in the original Muppet Show, Kermit the Frog along with his co-stars Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, Animal and the rest of the Muppets, try putting on a show every week, cutting from on stage disasters to backstage antics. Following the same concept as the original show, there should be a special guest star in every episode, even if it is against their will. Along with classic favourites including Pepe the Prawn, Rizzo the Rat, Dr Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Sam the Eagle, The Swedish Chef, amongst others. At the same time, I would like to meet newer Muppets, being introduced each season, on a regular basis, and let’s not forget to bring Walter back, this time around. 

Alongside new Muppets, I hope many old, familiar characters are brought back too, including Polly Lobster, Clueless Morgan, Mad Monty, Clifford and if even possible, Skeeter. What I most enjoyed about The Muppets (2015) series finale, was the arrival of so many, long, lost, favourite Muppet characters, ranging from Droop, all the way to Howard Tubman. Sadly, this happened at the end of the series, whilst at the beginning, audiences only had a select number of Muppets, in which to root for. The Muppets are not actors, one does not need to pay for their appearance, just to have them walk around in the background, that is why I believe, familiar background Muppets, should never go away. As a kid, I always enjoyed waiting for my favourite characters to show up on screen, the large selection of characters to choose from, was one of my Muppet childhood memory highlights. I hope this is considered as a follow up to The Muppets (2015), I would personally like this new Muppet reboot, to not address the big cliffhanger at the end of the last series. Kermit and Miss Piggy’s relationship, in my opinion, should be considered a mystery as the show progresses, ala their relationship status on The Muppet Show. In The original The Muppet Show, Kermit and Miss Piggy never really labelled the status of their relationship, Miss Piggy was in love with Kermit, and Kermit most of the times, just wanted to put on a show. Kermit and Miss Piggy worked together, on occasions they might have shared a moment or even a passionate kiss, but at the end of the day, they were never a couple. Both Kermit and Miss Piggy flirted with different celebrities, did their fair share of dating, yet at times still confronted their relationship status and would on occasions argue like a divorced couple. At some point, in this new series, it would be nice to see them finally tackle this ongoing storyline, but for now, I think it’s safer to take Kermit’s advice, stay away from the love drama and put on a show. 

The second season could then begin to introduce viewers to the idea, that The Muppets Show Reboot, is not just based around the Muppets trying to put on a show but rather, the Muppets trying to live their lives. The same format as the first season could continue, yet more of the backstories slowly beginning to take over, until eventually the series can reach a “Muppets From Space” style of storytelling, which also sort of replicates the good parts of their 2015 series. As a fan, that’s The Muppet Show I would like to see, I want a happy not sad Kermit, I want a crazy not sensible Gonzo, I want Penguins not Office Workers, I personally would like an updated version of The Muppet Show. Basically, I’m hoping The Muppets Hollywood Bowl Show makes it onto my TV, on a regular basis.

- Nicholas Napoli