Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Muppet Tales On a Gloomy Day

Slept in this morning, then spent the next few hours finishing The Girls In the Picture. When I did get up, I watched more Muppet Babies during breakfast. The kids are tired of waiting "Six to Eight Weeks" for the package with their new playhouse to arrive. They spend that time imagining what it might be, turning it into spoofs of everything from Beetlejuice to the original Mickey Mouse Club

(And yeah, this episode definitely makes me appreciate that most people don't have to wait almost two months for their orders to arrive anymore. Nowadays, the kids' package would probably arrive two days to two weeks at the most.) 

Headed out after that to run a few errands. I realized just yesterday that I forgot my nephew Khai's birthday was almost two weeks ago. I first stopped at Dollar General to get him a card and money. Since I was there, I picked up a Mother's Day card too, before I forget that. 

Strolled across Oaklyn to Rose's house to drop it off. I was glad to see her husband Craig putting metal pieces out on the curb. Seems their old gazebo was getting old and starting to fall apart. I got to say hi to him, and went inside to see Rose, too. Not only have she and her family been busy, they've also been sick a lot, which doesn't surprise me. Rose and her family are constantly sick. They went over to Craig's parents house for an Easter egg hunt and dinner, but otherwise rested that day. 

The kids weren't home from school yet, but I got to talk to Rose and pet Oreo and Cider, who immediately sniffed me and gave me good welcoming licks. Rose also gave me a lot of tea she didn't want - she apparently collects it and had way too many. (She also likes her peppermint tea stronger than I do.)

Made my way back down to West Clinton for a small lunch. I wasn't really up to more than a quiche and frozen hot chocolate at Common Grounds Coffee House, and I hadn't eaten there in ages. It was the perfect time to eat there, too. There was only a pair of older ladies chatting and two college kids doing schoolwork.

It had been cloudy, windy, and chilly all day, but the clouds grew darker as I made my way to Rose's. By the time I bought pretzels at the soft pretzel shop on the White Horse Pike, it was starting to spit a little. It never rained like it did on Sunday, but it was still time to go home. Made a brief stop at the pretzel shop for a soft pretzel; the sweet lady ended up giving me four more, since it was almost closing time.

Did more Muppet Babies while vacuuming and Swiftering the floor. "Eight Flags Over the Nursery" is the series finale, and the last of three episodes in which the Babies build their own amusement park. Here, they're so disappointed that the big new theme park in their area won't open for five years, they claim they could make one faster. Piggy's movie studio is not only a spoof of the then-new Disney Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios Florida, it incorporates the animated segments "Kermit the Frog, Private Eye" and "Pigs In Space" that were created for the short-lived Little Muppet Monsters.

Dusted while listening to my latest K-Tel acquisition, Music Magic. It kicks off strong, with three hits in a row - Andy Gibb's "Love Is Thicker Than Water," Player's "Baby Come Back," and the country smash "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gale. Many of these songs, like the ballad "Emotion" by Samantha Sang, take me way back to my early childhood, when I felt safe in my mother's house, playing on my grandmother's orange, brown, and black zig zag comforter. Other favorites here include Santa Esmerelda's remake of "Misunderstood," the disco hit "Dance, Dance, Dance" by Chic, and "Peg," my favorite Steely Dan song. 

Printed out everything I'll need for counseling with Karen tomorrow, then worked on writing. Gene already intends to bring the Wild Rider Gang out of hiding and ambush them. Brett isn't crazy about that scheme. What if they're the ones who get ambushed? Gene thinks the rest of the town will help, but Brett's not so sure about that...

Broke for dinner at quarter after 7. Continued with the Muppets while I ate. The babies learn about rules and regulations after a bathtub boat race ends with them quarreling because Piggy made up her own rules. Piggy wants to be queen and have everyone do what she wants, and then Gonzo declares there to be no rules at all. That just leads them to crash into Nanny, who insists they're out of control and gives them a time out on the couch, which makes them feel like they're in jail. She finally brings a book to teach them about government and democracy. "Kermit Goes to Washington" when he's elected...but he still has to deal with Piggy's bossiness. 

I've enjoyed seeing the Muppets again so much, I continued with episodes that can be found on YouTube for the rest of the night. They spread a wide net over pop culture in this show, sometimes coming up with surprising subjects for a Saturday morning cartoon. My first encounter with old-time radio wasn't Remember WENN. The Babies beat WENN to the punch almost a decade before with "The Muppet Broadcasting Company." After the power goes out, Nanny brings the kids some radio shows on a battery-powered cassette player to listen to. They have so much fun with Captain Midnight and Sherlock Holmes, they decide to make their own show...which turns into a dead-on spoof of The Shadow, with Gonzo as Lamont Cranston. (This also has one of my favorite songs from the series, the hilarious big band number "Three Cheers for Your Ears.")

"Fun Park Fantasies" was the first episode where the kids visit an amusement park in their imagination. Here, they're so excited about Nanny taking them to the fun park the next day, they can't sleep. They pass the night telling each other what they think the park will be like instead.

"Raiders of the Lost Muppet" is the first time they go looking for Animal, and the first of many Indiana Jones spoofs. Animal vanishes after playing hide and seek, so the kids search for him all over their house. Piggy, Fozzie, and Kermit's adventure turns their basement into the Temple of Doom. Gonzo, Rolf, and the twins have less dire fun in an imaginary jungle, doing a numberwith the native animals, "Best Friends." 

Piggy's the one causing trouble in "The Muppet Museum of Art." Skeeter accidentally trips on her skate and twists her ankle, but Piggy blames Gonzo. Nanny insists she has to stay home with Skeeter instead of taking them to the art museum, so the kids decide to make their own art museum. Piggy's so desperate to hide her secret, she keeps destroying or hiding Gonzo's art depicting the incident. But Gonzo has one last surprise in store... 

Frankly, Piggy doesn't come off terribly well in these episodes, especially to poor Gonzo. Her insecurity tends to make her into a bossy little brat at times. I always wondered what Gonzo saw in her. Apparently, so did the show's writers. They finally addressed Piggy's rough treatment of Gonzo in a very sweet season five episode, "Beauty and the Schnoz." Piggy doesn't think Gonzo's beautiful. She only likes beautiful things, like birds and butterflies and ballerinas. Gonzo first tries to dress like her favorite things, then gets help from  fellow long-nosed lovers Cyrano De Bergerac (Jose Ferrer) and Steve Martin in Roxanne to finally tell her how he feels. 

Piggy wasn't always treated the best, either. She's the one who gets into trouble in "Pigerella." She tries to put the cupcakes away that the twins snitched for the others and gets caught. Nanny thinks she did it and makes her clean up the kitchen. As she imagines herself to be Cinderella who has to do chores and can't dance with the frog of her dreams, the others eventually feel guilty and help her out.

That was far from the last time Piggy imagined herself in a fairy tale. "The Pig Who Would Be Queen" is a more general fantasy spoof, with Piggy as a peasant girl who has to do many tasks - including turning a mushroom into a handsome frog knight - to become queen and get Skeeter to give up her castle. This is one of the funnier later episodes - look for a lot of references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail here. 

"The Great Muppet Cartoon Show" is sort of a cross between "Muppet Museum of Art" and "Gonzo's Video Show." The kids start by drawing pictures, then note that when they flip them, the pictures move. That leads Nanny to suggest they make their own cartoons with her 8 millimeter camera. Things get downright metaphysical when they start creating their own versions of "Pinocchio," Skeeter creates her own stop-motion clay short, and Gonzo finds himself chasing Koko the Clown from the silent "Out of the Inkwell" series. 

"By the Book" is a three-for-one spoof of famous children's literature. They're bored when their toys are in storage after the nursery is painted, so Nanny gives them books to look at. Skeeter is the only one who thinks they're boring. She ignores their takes on Robin Hood and The Wizard of Oz, but finally decides to help Scooter and Piggy out with Peter Pan...and decides that maybe these old-fashioned stories aren't so bad after all. 

Finished out with "From a Galaxy Far, Far Away," a tribute to ET and other movies about benevolent aliens. The kids are pretending to be aliens when they see a flashing light and hear something in their closet. They think it's an alien and first tries to phone home, then create their own rocket ship to take the creature they dub "Irma" home. 

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