Muppets Tonight

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Muppets Tonight
Clifford, host of Muppets Tonight
Genre Comedy
Created by Jim Henson Productions
Written by Greg V. Fera
Brian Henson
Tom Trbovich
Gary Halvorson
Starring Dave Goelz
Brian Henson
Jerry Nelson
Steve Whitmire
Kevin Clash
Bill Barretta
Frank Oz
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 22 (list of episodes)
Location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Jim Henson Productions
Original network ABC
Discovery Channel[1]
Original release March 8, 1996 (1996-03-08) – February 8, 1998 (1998-02-08)

Muppets Tonight is an American live-action/puppet children's television series created by Jim Henson Productions and featuring The Muppets. Much like the "MuppeTelevision" segment of The Jim Henson Hour, the show was a continuation of The Muppet Show, set in a television studio, rather than a theater.[2]

It first ran on ABC from March 8 to July 14, 1996, with reruns on Disney Channel from 1997 to 2000.


The premise of Muppets Tonight was that Clifford was the host of a variety/talk show on KMUP.[3] The show stuck closely to The Muppet Show format of various skits (mostly featuring the show's human guest star) interspersed with some sort of crisis occurring backstage.[4]


Main article: List of Muppets

Returning Muppets[edit]

New Muppets[edit]

Some of these introduced in Muppets Tonight went on to appear in later Muppet productions, particularly Pepe the Prawn, who has become a regular.

Recurring sketches[edit]

Among the regular sketches are:

  • Bay of Pigswatch – A parody of Baywatch starring David Hoggselhoff as Champ Schwimmer, Spamela Hamderson as Spamela, and Andy and Randy Pig as Donnie and Art C. Shell where they work as lifeguards at a beach.
  • Carl the Big Mean... - Sketches which involve Carl doing an act, which usually ends up incorporating him eating someone or something, e.g., biting the head off a ventriloquist's puppet, predicting someone would be eaten, and eating him, as a psychic.
  • E-I-E-I-O R – In a parody of ER, it features Fozzie Bear working at a hospital where the doctors and patients pass around humor; Fozzie is assisted by Dr. Pain, Ernst Stavro Grouper, and an Afghan Hound.
  • Great Moments in Elvis History – In a parody of Great Moments in History, the moments in history are reenacted by a bunch of Muppet versions of Elvis Presley.
  • Pigs In Space: Deep Dish Nine – In a sequel to "Pigs in Space," Miss Piggy is featured on the new Swinetrek with a different crew. The title is a spoof of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Screen Tests – A bunch of screen tests that featured the Muppets auditioning in a movie that featured the guest stars of the episodes it was featured in.
  • Tales from the Vet – In a parody of Tales from the Crypt, Dr. Phil van Neuter tells scary stories revolving around animals.
  • The Eagle's Nest – Sam the Eagle talks about politics and other issues with Andy and Randy Pig as his recurring guests.
  • The Johnny Fiama Show – A talk show hosted by Johnny Fiama.
  • The Real World Muppets – A spoof of The Real World that follows Clifford, Rizzo the Rat, Bobo the Bear, Bill the Bubble Guy, and Darci living together in one house.
  • Thor: God of Thunder – Deals with Thor doing every day mundane tasks.
  • UK Spots – There were some UK Spots that were in this show due to the United Kingdom version not having any commercials
    • Fairyland PD – Clifford and Bobo the Bear work as detectives at the Fairyland Police Department under the supervision of their police chief; Clifford and Bobo are charged with the duties of solving mysteries revolving around nursery rhymes and fairy tales.
    • Mr. Callahan – Features the unseen Mr. Callahan who is a regular customer at a bar owned by Polly Lobster and Clueless Morgan with this sketch being at Mr. Callahan's point of view.
    • Swift Wits – A game show that stars Snookie Blyer. In it, one must guess a secret word in 10 seconds to stop Big Mean Carl (in his Carl the Big Mean Bunny alter ego) from eating an adorable animal. In 5 of the 6 cases, the contestant failed spectacularly, and, on the occasion the contestant got the word correct - without clues - Carl defied Snookie to eat both the pet and than the contestant.
    • The Tubmans of Porksmith – Follows the comical misadventures of a rich food-loving pig named Howard Tubman and his butler Carter (was reworked into Boarshead Revisited in season 2).

Series run[edit]

The show ran from 1996 to 1998. There were 22 episodes produced in two batches. 13 episodes were ordered by ABC, though only ten of them were run in the 1995–96 TV season. The program was then purchased by the Disney Channel, which ordered a further nine episodes and aired these along with the three episodes ABC did not air, in the 1997–98 season. One of the nine newly produced episodes was a clip show compilation culled from the earlier episodes.

In the United Kingdom thirteen episodes of the show were transmitted at 7pm on Friday evenings on BBC1 from September – December 1996. The remaining nine episodes have not been shown in the UK.

In Ireland the show was broadcast on TG4, eventually being dubbed into Irish Gaelic.

Guest stars[edit]

Unlike the original Muppet Show, most episodes of Muppets Tonight featured multiple guest stars. Typically, there would be one principal guest, but other celebrities would make small walk-on appearances. For example, the Garth Brooks episode (aired as episode #2) features a cameo from Leonard Nimoy.[5]


Muppet performers[edit]

  • Kevin Clash – Clifford, Carter, Craniac, Mulch, Polly Lobster, others
  • Brian Henson – Dr. Phil van Neuter, Elvises, Nigel, Sal Minella, Seymour the Elephant, Thor, others
  • Jerry Nelson – Camilla the Chicken, A. Ligator, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Elvises, Jowls, Mama Fiama, Statler, Old Skyball Paint, Lew Zealand, others
  • Steve Whitmire – Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker, Foo-Foo, Captain Pighead, Mr. Poodlepants, Andy Pig, George the Janitor, Eugene, others
  • Dave Goelz – Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf, Bill the Bubble Guy, Dr. Pain, Gary Cahuenga, Beauregard, Randy Pig, Snorty, others
  • Bill Barretta – Pepe the King Prawn, Rowlf the Dog, Behemoth, Big Mean Carl, Bobo the Bear, Clueless Morgan, David Hoggselhoff, Doglion, Elvises, Ernst Stavros Grouper, Dr. Phil van Neuter (hands), Howard Tubman, Johnny Fiama, J.P. Grosse, Snookie Blyer, Zippity Zap, others
  • Frank Oz – Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle, others
  • Leslie Carrara-Rudolph – Spamela Hamderson, Darci, Floor Manager, others
  • John Henson – Sweetums (episode 16)
  • John Kennedy – Female Rock Lobster (episode 14)
  • Allan Trautman – Fairyland Police Chief (episodes 8, 9, 13, and 17), Howard Tubman's Doctor (episode 7)


The reception from critics was mixed.[6][7] Among the staff at other TGIF shows, reception was also negative; Jaleel White, star of Family Matters, blamed Muppets Tonight for Family Matters's own cancellation: "[S]omewhere along the line, Winnie the Pooh and the Muppets started emerging around us and it [TGIF] became kids' night. And we lost a lot of credibility."[8]


  1. ^ Verrier, Richard (May 8, 2003). "Henson Family Buys Back Muppets For $78 Million". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ King, Susan (1996-03-10). "The Muppets Put On a Show, Again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  3. ^ Mifflin, Lawrie (1996-03-10). "Following in the Frog's Footsteps". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-19. 
  4. ^ "Muppets Tonight! Means the Return of Cuddly Chaos". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  5. ^ "TV NOTES;High Hopes for Aliens". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  6. ^ "Muppets Tonight! Means the Return of Cuddly Chaos". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  7. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Muppets Tonight!". People. Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  8. ^ Hal Boedeker (July 18, 1997). "He's A Goober But CBS Has A Lot Riding On Urkel TV". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]