The Muppets are a group of puppet characters known for an absurdist, burlesque and self-referential style of variety-sketch comedy. Having been created in 1955 by Jim Henson, they are the namesake for the Disney media franchise that encompasses films, television series, music recordings, print publications, and other media associated with The Muppet Show characters.
Henson once stated that the term "Muppet" had been created as a blend of the words "marionette" and "puppet", but also claimed that it was actually a word he had coined. The Muppets debuted on the television program Sam and Friends, which aired locally on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. from 1955 to 1961. After appearing on skits in several late night talk shows and advertising commercials during the 1960s, Henson's Muppets began appearing on Sesame Street when that show debuted in 1969. The Muppets then became the stars of multiple television series and films, including; The Muppet Show (1976–1981), The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), and The Jim Henson Hour (1989). After Henson's death in 1990, The Muppets continued their presence in television and cinema with Muppets Tonight (1996–98), a series continuation of The Muppet Show, and three films, The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Muppets from Space (1999); the former two were co-produced with Disney, who sought to acquire the characters since the late 1980s. In 2004, The Walt Disney Company purchased the rights to The Muppets (except for the Sesame Street characters, which were sold separately to Sesame Workshop, as well as Fraggle Rock and other characters retained by The Jim Henson Company), and later formed The Muppets Studio; a division created specifically for managing The Muppets franchise.
Disney re-branded the franchise beginning in 2008, in anticipation of the seventh film, The Muppets. The film, written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller and directed by James Bobin, was released by Walt Disney Pictures on November 23, 2011, and met with critical acclaim and commercial success. An eighth film, Muppets Most Wanted, was released on March 21, 2014. A new television show, The Muppets, premiered on ABC on September 22, 2015.
Fraggle Rock is a children's television series with a total of 5 seasons and 96 episodes running from January 10, 1983 to March 30, 1987 on HBO in the United States and CBC Television in Canada. The series was created by Jim Henson, primarily featuring a cast of Muppet creatures called Fraggles, with music by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee.
The vision of Fraggle Rock articulated by Jim Henson was to depict a colorful and fun world, but also a world with a relatively complex system of symbiotic relationships between different "races" of creatures, an allegory to the human world, where each group was somewhat unaware of how interconnected and important they were to one another. Creating this allegorical world allowed the program to entertain and amuse while seriously exploring complex issues of prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, environment, and social conflict. Fraggle Rock generally refused to over-simplify any individual issue, instead simply illustrating the consequences and inherent difficulties of different actions and relationships.
The show was a worldwide hit, just like Sesame Street and The Muppets franchise. The Theme song from Fraggle Rock was a top 40 pop hit in Britain during the phenomenon.
Sam the Eagle is a character from the syndicated television show The Muppet Show, performed by Frank Oz. The name "Sam" is probably derived from Uncle Sam, as the Bald Eagle is the official symbol of the United States. On the show, Sam acts as a censor and speaks as if unhip. He often gives self-important lectures in which he complains about some liberal idea only to find himself forced to stop in embarrassment. On one occasion he gives a lecture about conservationism in which he reads a list of endangered animal species that he feels are the focus of misguided efforts to save them, only to sheepishly withdraw his statement when he realizes that his own species is included. In another sketch, he lectures about the indecency that all people are naked underneath their clothes, then leaves in embarrassment upon realizing that all birds are similarly naked underneath their feathers.
As the voice of the older generation's sensibilities, he happily introduces his favorite singing duo, Wayne and Wanda, with gushing praise, calling them classy and artistic (though their routines invariably ended with typical slapstick violence). The couple sings old standards like "You Do Something to Me" and "It's only a Paper Moon". Sam's intolerance on one occasion had him throwing guest star Rudolf Nureyev out of the building in a fit of temper, mistaking him for a bum. To his credit, he becomes extremely upset when he learns of his mistake, and is forgiven.