Muppet Babies

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Muppet Babies
MuppetBabiesTitle.jpg
Also known as Jim Henson's Muppet Babies
Genre Animated series
Created by Jim Henson
Developed by Jeffrey Scott
Directed by John Gibbs
Ray Lee
Terry Lennon
Karen Peterson
Robert Shellhorn
Voices of Greg Berg
Katie Leigh
Laurie O'Brien
Russi Taylor
Frank Welker
Barbara Billingsley
Howie Mandel (1984–1985)
Dave Coulier (1986–1991)
Theme music composer Hank Saroyan & Rob Walsh
Composer(s) Robert J. Walsh (1984–1989)
Robert Irving (1990–1991)
Hank Saroyan (1990–1991)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 107 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Lee Gunther
(1984–1988)Margaret Loesch Stimpson (1984–1990)
Jim Henson (1988–1990)
Michael K. Frith (1990–1991)
Joe Taritero (1990–1991)
Producer(s) John Ahern (1984–1988)
Robert Shellhorn (1987–1988)
Bob Richardson (1984–1989)
Roy Allen Smith (1990–1991)
Running time 25 mins.
Production company(s) Henson Associates (1984–1987)
Jim Henson Productions (1987–1991)
Marvel Productions[1]
Distributor Claster Television, Inc. (1989–1991)
Buena Vista Television (1992–2006)
Disney-ABC Domestic Television (2007–present)
Broadcast
Original channel CBS (1984–1991)
Audio format Stereo
Original run September 15, 1984 (1984-09-15) – November 2, 1991 (1991-11-02)
Chronology
Preceded by The Muppets Take Manhattan

Muppet Babies (also known as Jim Henson's Muppet Babies) is an American animated television series that aired from September 15, 1984 to November 2, 1991 on CBS. The show portrays childhood versions of the Muppets living together in a large nursery in the care of a human woman called Nanny (the whereabouts of their parents are never addressed). Nanny appears in almost every episode, but her face is never shown, only the babies' view of her pink skirt and purple sweater as well as her distinctive green and white striped socks. The idea of presenting the Muppets as children first appeared in a dream sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, released two months before Muppet Babies debuted, in which Miss Piggy imagined what it would be like if she and Kermit the Frog had grown up together.

Muppet Babies was produced by The Jim Henson Company and Marvel Productions. The rights are now held by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. Although the episodes were 30 minutes (including commercials), it was typically shown in 60 and even 90 minute blocks during the peak of its popularity. Outside of the United States, the show was distributed by Walt Disney Television.

Overview[edit]

The Muppet Babies live in a large nursery watched over by Nanny, the only human character in the show that appears on a regular basis. The babies have hyperactive imaginations and often embark on adventures into imaginary worlds and perilous situations from which they are eventually returned to reality by some external event, such as Nanny coming to see what the noise was. They are constantly finding creative ways to entertain themselves and learn to work together to solve problems and survive their wild-imagined adventures.

Each episode included a single storyline. Usually the babies were confronted with a childlike problem, such as fear of the dentist, or a question, such as 'where do muffins come from?' Other times, they were simply finding ways to amuse themselves with old toys or video tape equipment. The babies would then enter into their imaginations, transforming their toys into everything from time machines to pirate ships. Nearly every episode contained one song, and occasionally more than one. After the credits, the episodes would end with Animal shouting out his catchphrase 'Go bye-bye!' usually while Gonzo blasted off into the sky due to some accident he or Animal had caused. When the show aired in its 60 or 90 minute blocks however, Gonzo would instead end the first episode saying "Don't go away, we'll be right back."

Although the program was a cartoon, live-action film sequences were added in unusual moments. When the babies opened a door, box or book, they were often confronted with anything from a speeding train to a space ship. Foreign landscapes in their imagination were usually photos or bits of stock footage which the babies would walk across, interacting indirectly with the film's actors. Though much of the live-action came from stock footage and old black-and-white horror/monster films, more recent films such as Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Indiana Jones were also played and parodied.

The show was drawn from the babies’ point of view, meaning the babies were always looking up to view the world. Objects like couches and doors were far larger than normal and more momentous obstacles for the babies. As a result of the upward view, the faces of adult characters were never shown. Nanny was only ever seen from the shoulders down as were the adults in the babies’ fantasies. Exceptions were made for Uncle Statler and Uncle Waldorf and a few ‘Muppet style’ adults in the fantasy worlds.

Characters[edit]

The series stars Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Scooter, Skeeter, Rowlf the Dog, and Gonzo as the main muppets. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker made regular appearances as did Camilla in the form of Gonzo's stuffed baby chick. In the final two seasons, Bean Bunny and Statler and Waldorf began making regular appearances.

Several Muppets made guest appearances including Janice, and Kermit's nephew, Robin, a young tadpole.

The Muppet Baby character Skeeter, Scooter's twin sister, only appeared in this series, and was never a live-action Muppet. This was done because the producers wanted another female character added to the cast. Despite this, Skeeter was always voiced by a male actor, who already voiced a different character.

Episodes[edit]

Cast[edit]

Additional voices[edit]

  • Bob Bergen - Link Hogthrob (archive footage)
  • Peter Cullen – Smoggy the Bear (ep. 33), Football-Playing Bear (ep. 33)
  • Hal Rayle - Miss Piggy (archive footage)

Crew[edit]

  • Hank Saroyan – Executive in Charge of Series, Voice Director, Story Editor, Song Producer, Composer

Production history[edit]

In 1984, The Muppets Take Manhattan, the third full-length Muppet film, debuted. The film included a fantasy sequence in which Miss Piggy imagined what growing up with Kermit would have been like. While Piggy sang, baby versions of Rowlf, Fozzie, Scooter, and Gonzo acted as backup singers. The live-action sequence was so successful that The Jim Henson Company turned the idea into a half-hour cartoon program. In order for 107 episodes to be produced, Henson and Marvel hired two companies: the Japanese-based Toei Animation for Seasons 1–3 and five episodes of Season 4, and the Korean-based AKOM Productions for Episode six of Season 4 through Season 8, both of which also animated G.I. Joe and The Transformers for Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions.

Muppet Babies proved highly popular and ran from 1984 to 1991, a total of eight seasons. At the height of its popularity it ran in two or three episode blocks.

For a brief run in the second season, the program became Muppets, Babies & Monsters, and a second half-hour was dedicated to a new show called Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters. This show featured live action puppets and cartoons starring the adult Muppet characters. The program lasted three weeks before Jim Henson pulled the plug, despite 18 episodes having been made. The show then reverted to an hour of Muppet Babies; however, a portion of the Little Muppet Monsters theme could still be heard in the show's end credits for the remainder of its run. Muppet Babies later expanded to 90 minutes after The Garbage Pail Kids was canceled before it aired.

Muppet Babies is noted for starting a trend of relaunching popular cartoon characters as younger versions of themselves. This trend can be seen in numerous TV series such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Flintstone Kids, Baby Felix, Tiny Toon Adventures, Tom and Jerry Kids and Jungle Cubs (based on characters from Walt Disney's animated film The Jungle Book) as well as merchandise items such as Baby Snoopy, Baby (Betty) Boop, Disney Babies, Baby Hello Kitty, Care Bear Cubs, and Baby Garfield. In recent years, Baby Looney Tunes, Sesame Beginnings and Baby Mario continued the concept.

Muppet Babies was a critical success during its time on the air: the show won four consecutive Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program, 1985–88, and won a Humanitas Prize for Children's Animation in 1985.[2]

Muppet Babies was voted "Top Cartoon of the Childhood Days" by the Irvin Hall newspaper's weekly review of the Pennsylvania State University in 2007.

Syndication[edit]

Muppet Babies entered local syndication in 1989, through Hasbro's television distribution unit Claster Television, Inc.. The series ran on local stations until 1992, often on affiliates of the new Fox Network. Syndication rights were sold to Nickelodeon/Nick Jr. (1992–1999), Disney Channel (1994–2000), Cartoon Network (1996–2002), Playhouse Disney (1997–2002), Toon Disney (1998–2002) and Odyssey Network (1999–2000) in the US with only 96 episodes in regular rotation. In the United Kingdom, it aired in reruns on Playhouse Disney UK, Disney Channel UK, Toon Disney UK, Disney Cinemagic and Nickelodeon UK with all 107 episodes in regular rotation. In the UK, it is best known from its first run on UK TV on BBC 1 on Saturday mornings during Going Live! at 8:15am. The show also aired on Network Ten in Australia. Muppet Babies has been off the air since 2000. In reruns on Nickelodeon and Odyssey Network, the intro was truncated and the 1984 closing was replaced with the 1985 closing.

Music[edit]

Approximately 100 of the songs were co-written by Alan O'Day and Janis Liebhart, with the exception of the theme song and Rocket To The Stars which were written by Hank Saroyan and Rob Walsh, and Dream for Your Inspiration, written by Scott Brownlee. The song that would behind the end credits was laughingly titled "Hank in the Box" in deference to Hank Saroyan.

Merchandise[edit]

In the mid-1980s PVC Muppet Babies toys were available as prizes in McDonald's' Happy Meals. Each non-articulated character came with a wheeled vehicle. Some time later, special Christmas stuffed versions of the Muppet Babies were available in Happy Meals, too.

In 1992, after the last aired Muppet Babies episode in 1991, an episode book collection of Muppet Babies was produced from the book company Grolier. It was called The Muppet Babies Press Books. The book talked mostly about character traits and learning for young children. It was produced and ended in 1992.

There were two Muppet Babies LP records produced and released on Parker Bros./Columbia records. Both albums were produced by Hank Saroyan and Rob Walsh and featured extended versions of songs from certain Muppet Babies episodes. The first album, "Rocket To The Stars" was also a fully produced stereo story-adventure starring the Muppet Babies characters in which the songs were woven into the all new story written by Saroyan. The second album was strictly more fully produced longer versions of songs from the show.

BMG released a CD version of the first album when it bought Henson.

Songs -- Rocket To The Stars: Muppet Babies theme, Merry-G0-Round, Sleep Rockin', Dream For Your Inspiration, Good Things Happen in the Dark, Camilla, Rocket To The Stars, Practice Makes Perfect, Be What You Wanna Be, I Can't Help Being a Star, Closing Theme.

A second, music only Muppet Babies LP, "Music Is Everywhere" was also produced.

Songs: (side one) Music Is Everywhere, Table For One, Wocka Wocka Wocka, Snow White Blues, Wishes Have A Way, Best Friends, Runnin' Out Of Time (side two) We Love Cartoons, Show Us The Real You. Amadogus, Semi-Weirdo, Art Is For Your Heart, Playin' In The City, Tv Maniacs.

Comics[edit]

From 1985 until 1989, Marvel Comics produced a monthly comic book of the Muppet Babies with their Star Comics imprint. The series lasted for twenty-six issues. In 1992, Harvey Comics acquired the rights to produce Muppet Babies comics and produced a further 3 issues (restarting at issue #1).

The Muppet Babies also appeared in Star Comics Digest (also known as Star Comics Magazine). This comic was printed in digest size format, and features a number of reprinted short stories in each issue. The series itself lasted for thirteen issues from 1986 until 1988. It should be noted that the Muppet Babies appeared in some, but not all the issues. Other short stories contained in Star Comics Digest included Madballs, Heathcliff, the Care Bears, and Top Dog.

Home media releases[edit]

Although not every Muppet Babies episode was released on VHS, a number of them were released between 1993 and 1995.[citation needed] One series released on VHS called "Yes I Can" included three videos, which featured two Muppet Babies episodes inside. The series focused on Robin the Frog, who asks his uncle Kermit for assistance in different chores he was struggling with such as cleaning his room or doing homework. Kermit would lead off into a Muppet Babies episode which told of a similar situation. Sometimes, he would give examples about achieving Robin's trouble. For example, in one Yes I Can video, Robin is worried about making new friends, and Kermit tells him that sharing is an example of having a good friendship, which leads directly to a Muppet Babies episode.

Although the show was (and still is) quite popular, there have been no plans announced of any DVD releases of Muppet Babies. One possible reason is that clips from other TV shows and movies (such as Star Trek, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, "The $25,000 Pyramid", Raiders of the Lost Ark and *batteries not included) were used extensively in imagination sequences, closet opening scenes, and scenes on the TV in the nursery and thus could pose difficulties in terms of resolving possible copyright issues.[citation needed] Recently, a few episodes were made available, in uncut form, as bonus DVDs with Muppet Babies plush toys.

Distribution[edit]

VHS Release[edit]

15 VHS release's in all

U.S. 1st Release's (4):

  • Muppet Babies: Be My Valentine
    • Episode 407: My Muppet Valentine
  • Muppet Babies: Explore With Us
    • Episode 610: The New Adventures of Kermo Polo
    • Episode 801: The Transcontinental Whoo-Whoo
  • Muppet Babies: Time to Play
    • Episode 708: Muppet Babies: The Next Generation
    • Episode 502: Beauty and the Schnoz
  • Muppet Babies: Let's Build
    • Episode 603: Six-to-Eight Weeks
    • Episode 808: Eight Flags Over the Nursery

'U.S. 2nd release's 'Yes I Can' Release (3):

  • Muppet Babies: Yes I Can Learn
    • Episode 306: Kermit Goes to Washington
    • Episode 805: Nice to Have Gnome You
  • Muppet Babies: Yes I Can Help
    • Episode 113: Good, Clean Fun
    • Episode 802: Get Me to the Perch on Time
  • Muppet Babies: Yes I Can Be A Friend
    • Episode 204: The Great Cookie Robbery
    • Episode 301: Pigerella

Mcdonalds Release's (4):

  • Episode 308: The Daily Muppet
  • Episode 207: I Want My Muppet TV! and Episode 110: Gonzo's Video Show
  • Episode 206: Snow White and the Seven Muppets
  • Episode 210: The Great Muppet Cartoon Show

UK Release's (2)(works on any VCR):

  • Muppet Babies: Close Encounters of the Frog Kind and Dental Hyjinks

Episode 109: Close Encounters of the Frog Kind Episode 102: Dental Hyjinks

  • Muppet Babies: Gonzo's Video Show and Noisy Neighbors

Episode 110: Gonzo's Video Show Episode 101: Noisy Neighbors

Australia Release's (2) (works on any VCR):

  • Muppet Babies: I Want My Muppet T.V 1985, Snow White and the Seven Muppets, Once Upon an Egg Timer

Episode 207: I Want My Muppet TV! Episode 206: Snow White and the Seven Muppets Episode 201: Once Upon an Egg Timer

  • Muppet Babies: Muppet Babies: Raiders of the Lost Muppet, Dental Hyjinks

Episode 104: Raiders of the Lost Muppet Episode 102: Dental Hyjinks

Total 22 VHS Release Episodes in order:

  • Episode 101: Noisy Neighbors
  • Episode 102: Dental Hyjinks
  • Episode 104: Raiders of the Lost Muppet
  • Episode 110: Gonzo's Video Show
  • Episode 113: Good, Clean Fun
  • Episode 201: Once Upon an Egg Timer
  • Episode 204: The Great Cookie Robbery
  • Episode 206: Snow White and the Seven Muppets
  • Episode 207: I Want My Muppet TV!
  • Episode 210: The Great Muppet Cartoon Show
  • Episode 301: Pigerella
  • Episode 306: Kermit Goes to Washington
  • Episode 308: The Daily Muppet
  • Episode 407: My Muppet Valentine
  • Episode 502: Beauty and the Schnoz
  • Episode 603: Six-to-Eight Weeks
  • Episode 610: The New Adventures of Kermo Polo
  • Episode 708: Muppet Babies: The Next Generation
  • Episode 801: The Transcontinental Whoo-Whoo
  • Episode 802: Get Me to the Perch on Time
  • Episode 805: Nice to Have Gnome You
  • Episode 808: Eight Flags Over the Nursery

Other appearances[edit]

Baby Kermit, Piggy, and Gonzo made small appearances in the drug prevention TV special (later released on home video) Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.

A live-action version of all the characters except Skeeter also appeared in A Muppet Family Christmas in the form of a home movie, which the adult Muppets watched during the Christmas Party. The segment was cut out of the home video releases because the rights to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" could not be obtained.

Skeeter in her adult form was featured in the "Family Reunions" issues of The Muppet Show comics.

Reception[edit]

In January 2009, IGN named Jim Henson's Muppet Babies as the 31st best in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Daytime Emmy Awards
[4]
  • Won award for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Margaret Loesch, Lee Gunther, Jim Henson, Bob Richardson, Hank Saroyan, John Gibbs and Jeffrey Scott)
  • Won award for Outstanding Film Sound Editing (presented to Richard C. Allen, Robert T. Gillis, Richard Bruce Elliott, Michael L. DePatie, Michael Tomack and Ron Fedele) (1985)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition (Robert J. Walsh)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Film Sound Editing (Robert T. Gillis, Allison Cobb, Michael Tomack, Michael L. DePatie, Ron Fedele, Richard Bruce Elliott, and Richard C. Allen)
  • Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Jim Henson, Margaret Loesch, Lee Gunther, Bob Richardson, John Gibbs and Jeffrey Scott) (1986)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Film Sound Mixing (Bill Thiederman, Bob Minkler and Lee Minkler) (1986)
  • Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Jim Henson, Margaret Loesch, Lee Gunther, Bob Richardson, Robert Shellhorn and Jeffrey Scott) (1987)
  • Won award for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Margaret Loesch, Lee Gunther, Jim Henson, Bob Richardson, John Ahern and Robert Shellhorn) (1988)
  • Won award for Outstanding Film Sound Editing (presented to Al Breitenbach, Ron Fedele, Richard C. Allen, Steven D. Williams and Kenneth R. Burton)
  • Won award for Outstanding Film Sound Mixing (presented to Jeffrey J. Haboush and Greg P. Russell)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (presented to Margaret Loesch, Jim Henson, Bob Richardson, John Ahern, Karen Peterson, Rudy Cataldi, Al Kouzel, Chuck Downs, Hank Saroyan, Sindy McKay and Larry Swerdlove)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series (Barbara Billingsley) (1989)
  • Nominated for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series (Barbara Billingsley) (1990)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Animation Industry Finding Cost Of Laughter Is In Serious Trouble". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  2. ^ Awards
  3. ^ "Top 100 animated series". IGN. Archived from the original on 2011-09-22. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  4. ^ "Santa Barbara Takes Drama Emmy". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 

External links[edit]