Friday, January 24, 2014

The Muppets and Sesame Street Revisited: A TVCU Quickie

What's a quickie?  See this blog.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Muppets are a group of puppet characters known for an absurdist, burlesque and self-referential style of variety-sketch comedy. Created in 1955 by Jim Henson, they are since 2004 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 portmanteau of the words "marionette" and "puppet", but also claimed that it was actually a word he had coined.[1] The Muppets debuted on the television program Sam and Friends, which aired locally on WRC-TV inWashington, 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 (1996–1998), 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),[2][3][4] and later formed The Muppets Studio; a division created specifically for managing The Muppets franchise.
Disney underwent an extensive re-branding of the franchise beginning in 2008, in anticipation of the seventh film; The Muppets.[5][6] 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.[7] An eighth film, Muppets Most Wanted, will be released on March 21, 2014.[8]

Sesame Street is a long-running American children's television series created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its educational content, and images communicated through the use of Jim Henson's Muppets, animation, short films, humor, and cultural references. The series premiered on November 10, 1969 to positive reviews, some controversy, and high ratings.
The show has undergone significant changes throughout its history. The format of Sesame Street consists of a combination of commercial televisionproduction elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect the changes in American culture and the audience's viewing habits. With the creation of Sesame Street, producers and writers of a children's television show used, for the first time, educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content. It was also the first time a show's educational effects on young children were studied.
Shortly after creating Sesame Street, its producers developed what came to be called "the CTW model" (named for the show's production company,The Children's Television Workshop), a system of television show planning, production, and evaluation based on collaborations between producers, writers, educators, and researchers. The show was initially funded by government and private foundations but has become somewhat self-supporting due to revenues from licensing arrangements, international sales, and other media. By 2006, there were independently produced versions, or "co-productions", of Sesame Street broadcast in twenty countries. In 2001 there were over 120 million viewers of various international versions of Sesame Street, and by the show's 40th anniversary in 2009, it was broadcast in more than 140 countries.
By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was the fifteenth-highest rated children's television show in the United States. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children. As of 2009, Sesame Street has won 8 Grammy Awards and 153 Emmy Awards—more than any other children's show.

From me:

The following are my excerpted introductions to the original Sesame Street and Muppet Show blogs.

OK, so this will be my position on muppets.  

For now, I'll say that if you don't like muppets in your shared crossover reality, just skip this and the Muppet Show blog.  Simple as that.  You can certainly (I hope) enjoy the bulk of the work that I and my colleagues have done while skipping over these two blogs.  But whether you like it or not, in the Television Crossover Universe, MY reality, they are here to stay.

On Muppet Monsters, Crazy Ivan had this to say a while back, which I have come to agree with:  While I respect the work you did on this, I have to question the decision to ignore the existence of Muppets as a seperate species / race / kingdom / etc. My own research into this fringe element of the Crossover Universe was made more palatable by conflating the Muppets of Sesame Street with the Monsters of (Pixar's) Monsters, Inc. If an enclave of monsters had learned early on that making children laugh would garner more energy for Monstropolis than making them scream, they might not have been well-regarded in the screamcentric society the lived in, and could have been summarily banished to Earth. I believe ELMO'S ADVENTURES IN GROUCHLAND supports such a theory, as does the large number of monsters populating Sesame Street. It also allows the origin of the Smile Time puppet demons to be the same as the muppets, though they obviously did not come to Earth to make children laugh.


Yes, in this blog, I'm going to show how Sesame Street fits into the TV Crossover Universe.  First, let me explain my take on Muppets.  When we see muppets on TV, we are actually seeing the being the muppet represents, not a puppet.  So if it's a big bird, it's a big bird.  If it's a frog, it's a frog.  They just happen to talk and are anthropomorphic. 

This is my take on cartoons and CGI as well.  If there is a CGI dragon, we're not seeing something computer generated.  It's a real dragon.  And if we are seeing, for example, Daffy Duck in Drew Carey's office, he's not seeing a two dimensional drawing, but a talking humanoid duck.

So let's talk about the nature of Sesame Street, and then I'll get to my crossover chronology.

Sesame Street is a street in New York City.  But it exists within a magical realm.  You can't just go there.  It's not on any map.  To get there, the portal to the street has to be open.  However, how and when this portal opens is kind of a mystery.  But it seems to do so one hour per day, weekdays only.

On Sesame Street, normal humans live with anthropomorphic talking animals and monsters.  A large part of their day revolves around discussing the alphabet, numbers, and things like cooperation. 

Often people from outside come to visit.  The magic of this street immediately erases the surprise that should be exhibited by these outsiders.  And when these outsiders leave, they don't forget their experience, but they choose not to discuss it, because who would believe it.

Kermit the Frog worked as a reporter for Sesame Street News before making it big as the host of the Muppet Show.  Muppets are the anthropomorphic talking animals, monsters, and immortal (though slightly insane) humans that make up the large part of Sesame Street.  However, the Muppets of the Muppet Show came from all across America, found each other, and chose to go into show business.

But how can we accept that there are famous Muppets?  Most people who watch the show think it's all special effects.  Those who actually encounter the Muppets in person tend to be in denial or shock, and block out the memories afterwards. 

So this blog is not about the Muppets.  I will cover the Muppet Show in another blog.  Today's blog is about Sesame Street, and is brought to you today by the letter S and the number 8.

One last thing.  I'm only going to discuss crossovers with other fictional characters.  Many real life celebrities appear on Sesame Street.  But when celebrities appear as themselves on fictional shows, then they are playing fictional versions of themselves.  But since all real people tend to exist in a multitude of alternate realities, I can't include them as crossovers that connect shows and place them in the same reality.

Another final note, unlike other shows, where the concept is that the events happened and were later turned into a TV show, Sesame Street is brought to us live, thus the dates of episodes are the dates they happened.

Sunny Day 
Sweepin' the clouds away 
On my way to where the air is sweet 

Can you tell me how to get, 
How to get to Sesame Street 

Come and play 
Everything's A-OK 
Friendly neighbors there 
That's where we meet 

Can you tell me how to get 
How to get to Sesame Street 

It's a magic carpet ride 
Every door will open wide 
To Happy people like you-- 
Happy people like 
What a beautiful 

Sunny Day 
Sweepin' the clouds away 
On my way to where the air is sweet 

Can you tell me how to get, 
How to get to Sesame street... 
How to get to Sesame Street 
How to get to... 


So for this blog we're going to talk about the muppets.  But, wait, you say.  Didn't I already do that?  No, I did not.  I did a blog on Sesame Street.  This is a blog on the Muppet Show.  Two shows with muppets that have crossovers, sure.  But still two separate series.  After all, I did separate blogs for Dracula and Frankenstein, and for Batman and Superman. 


It's the Muppet Show with our Very Special Guest Star, ... Robert E. Wronski, Jr.  YAAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!

It's time to play the music 
It's time to light the lights 
t's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.

It's time to put on makeup 
It's time to dress up right 
It's time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight. 

Why do we always come here 
I guess we'll never know 
It's like a kind of torture 
To have to watch the show 

And now let's get things started 
Why don't you get things started 
It's time to get things started 
On the most sensational inspirational celebrational Muppetational 
This is what we call the Muppet Show! (HOOOOONK!!!!!)

On to the Ruth Buzzi free blog...

Come join the discussion about Muppets or other TVCU related topics here.

For a different take on Muppets, here is Toby O'Brien's Inner Toob.

TVCU Mini-Chron:

12TH Century--SESAME STREET--Another Robin Hood poser was an ancestor of Ernie from SESAME STREET.

February 1954--BEWITCHED--"George Washington Zapped Here"--Esmerelda pulls George Washington from the past.  President Washington also appears in THE MUNSTERS, THE MUPPET SHOW:  SEX AND VIOLENCE, VOYAGERS, WILD WILD WEST, FUTURAMA, TIME SQUAD, and AN AMERICAN CAROL.

1954--THE MUPPET MOVIE--Though it came out in 1979, it takes place before Kermit got famous.  Kermit first started appearing on talk shows in 1955.  This movie shows how he got from the swamps to Hollywood, thus it should be placed here.  During their trip to Hollywood, Kermit and Fozzie stop to offer Big Bird a ride.  He declines, saying he's on his way to New York, to break into public broadcasting.  This shows us that Big Bird was not originally from Sesame Street.  This explains why Little Bird is the only similar type of his species to live there (and Little bird didn't arrive until the 1970s.)  Big Bird, arriving in New York, must have found he wasn't accepted by New Yorkers, until he found Sesame Street.  Once Big Bird found his home, he made it his mission to tell others how to get to Sesame Street.  Clearly, it was Big Bird who continued to advocate for the next 15 years until finally PBS agreed to do a live daily educational reality program on Sesame Street.

November 10, 1969--SESAME STREET--(Yup, going here again.)  Big Bird has a teddy bear named Radar.  Considering that Walter "Radar" O'Reilly slept with a teddy bear even as an adult, one wonders if he is the one who gave Bird his bear.

1969--SESAME STREET PITCH REEL--This is kind of the pilot for that reality show called Sesame Street.  Kermit hosted the Sesame Street News.  I suppose he was to Sesame Street what Chevy Chase was to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  Well, except that Kermit was  serious news man.

1969 to November 2009--SESAME STREET--Kermit is a news anchor for Sesame Street News.

1971--THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTEN--This movie seems to be another step in the story of how the Muppets got famous.  I'm giving a five year period between when the Muppets were successful on Broadway and the time they got their variety show.  Kermit apparently marries Miss Piggy at the end with residents from SESAME STREET and FRAGGLE ROCK in attendance.  Sesame Street was very successful by this point, and Kermit was still a good friend of them, and still working for the Sesame Street News.  The Muppets and Sesame Street residents would interact with folks from FRAGGLE ROCK over.  Uncle Travelling Matt is the only Fraggle to appear here, which fits since most Fraggles probably aren't born yet.  This film also features the MUPPET BABIES.  This would seem to contradict the Muppet Movie, but since the Muppet Babies were literally babies still, if they were separated and spread across the country after, they probably would not remember each other as adults.  I know I don't know any of the children I was friends with when I was ages 0 - 5.

1971--EVENING AT THE POPS--Kermit and the cast of Sesame Street appear here.

1973 to Present--SASAMSTRABE--German version of Sesame Street that Kermit occasionally guests on.

1974--JULIE ON SESAME STREET--Julie Andrews visits Sesame Street.  Kermit is a regular on Sesame 

1976--THE MUPPET SHOW--"Sex and Violence"--The pilot for the Muppet Show features a guest appearance from Bert.  Bert makes another appearance on the show this year.  George Washington appears, but his appearance is an actor playing him, thus his actual appearance here would be in the MUPPET UNIVERSE, which is the fictional world of stories in which the Muppets appear.

1976 to 1981--MUPPET SHOW--The muppets put on a variety show.  As I've stated in my SESAME STREET blog, these aren't puppets in the TVCU.  They are real mutant anthropomorphic animals, monsters, and weirdos.  The name Muppet is like calling the original SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE cast members Not Ready for Prime-Time Players.  Every week featured a celebrity guest host, and I'm not going to list them all.  It should be noted each of those guest stars are the TVCU counterparts of celebrities from our real 

December 24, 1978--CHRISTMAS EVE ON SESAME STREET--In this special, it's...yeah, you know.  Kermit appears because he's on both shows.

1982--IFTAH YA SIMSIM--This is a Lebanese show, but that doesn't mean "Death to America."  This is a Lebanese version of Sesame Street, and Kermit, being a huge star, shows up to help boost the ratings.

1985--SESAME STREET PRESENTS FOLLOW THAT BIRD--Social workers take Big Bird and place him in adoption.  He runs away from this new parents, and is abducted by criminals who want to make him a carnival act.  The Sesame Street residents including Kermit scour the country to find their friend.

1986--LEARNING ABOUT NUMBERS--featuring Kermit and the Sesame Street gang.

1988--SESAME STREET SPECIAL--featuring many guest-stars including Kermit.

May 16, 1990--Jim Henson passes away.  Jim Henson was the manager for the muppets and the folks on Sesame Street.

December 25, 1996--ELMO SAVES CHRISTMAS--Elmo uses a magic snow globe to wish that every day were Christmas, and then has to travel back in time to undo the wish when he finds there are negative consequences to his wish.  Kermit appears alongside the rest of the Sesame Street crew.

1998--THE BEST OF KERMIT ON SESAME STREET--Sesame Street honors arguably it's greatest break out star, Kermit the Frog, in an awards ceremony hosted by Grover.

1998--ELMOPALOOZA!--John Stewart of the DAILY SHOW is to host a retrospective on SESAME STREET but gets locked in his dressing room with the tapes.  Elmo attempts to salvage the show the best he can.  Kermit also appears.

December 2002--IT'S A VERY MERRY MUPPET CHRISTMAS MOVIE--Kermit loses the theater, and his friends rally to help.  Kermit is having an "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" moment where he travels to that alternate universe where he didn't create the Muppet Show.  On his way back to the TVCU, he briefly is pulled to the Dagoba system, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, where he meets Yoda, before finally getting home.  (Thanks to Crazy Ivan for clarifying this for me.)  The cast of Scrubs also appear in character, and also as the actors playing the characters.

August 14, 2006--SESAME STREET--Detective John Munch is seen on Sesame Street.  

January 2009--SCRUBS--"My ABC's"--Muppets have appeared on this show I once thought to be a self-contained crossover free show until Ivan set me straight about Apollo Bars and Cougars, but only within Doctor John Dorian's imagination.

Mid to Late February 2012--HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER--"NO Pressure"--Your Uncle Toby assures me that it was his cousin Conan, the talk show host, who visited McClaren's bar.  He talks about it here, where he makes the connection between HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and 'Lateline', 'Eaglehart', 'Arli$$', 'Web Therapy', 'Sesame Street', 'The Office', '30 Rock', 'Veronica's Closet', "The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch", 'Primetime Glick', "Elmopalooza!", 'DAG',  the Emmy Awards, 'The Simpsons', 'Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist', 'Space Ghost, Coast To Coast', and 'Futurama'.

 ALTERNATE REALITIES:  A Special Sesame Street Christmas

AVENUE Q---This is a broadway musical created by some of the original writers from Sesame Street.  It's an adult parody of both Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.

This is just a sampling of crossovers and history previously covered in TVCU blogs.  For the more detailed history and list of crossovers, please visit the original Sesame Street blog and the original Muppet blog.

And from Wikipedia again, here is some additional crossover information:

  • The Sesame Street gang made co-star cameos in the first three Muppet films. (The Muppet Movie featured Big Bird and some of the whole gang, The Great Muppet Caper featured Oscar the Grouch and The Muppets Take Manhattan featured nearly and entirely the whole gang, including Bert and Ernie and the Cookie Monster!)
  • The multiple characters from Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock, and even Muppets creator Jim Henson himself, join in with Kermit the FrogGonzoMiss Piggy and the whole Muppets gang to celebrate Christmas with them when they are visiting Fozzie Bear's grandma to join her in the festive holiday. (A Muppet Family Christmas)
  • Mickey Mouse, the Looney Tunes gang, Mr. MagooThe FlintstonesThe JetsonsSesameDennis the Menace and Doctor Who have all but homagedspoofed and lampooned the famous Charles Dickens Christmas story, A Christmas Carol. (Mister Magoo's Christmas CarolA Special Sesame Street ChristmasBugs Bunny's Christmas CarolMickey's Christmas CarolA Jetson Christmas CarolBlackadder's Christmas CarolThe Muppet Christmas CarolA Flintstones Christmas CarolAn All Dogs Christmas CarolWinnie the Pooh: Springtime with RooBah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes ChristmasA Dennis the Menace Christmas and Doctor Who in: A Christmas Carol respectively)


    In Mad episode "Ribbitless", a different explanation is offered for the muppets. They were all ordinary animals who ate butterflies that somehow mutated them into intelligent beings.


    Bonus.  Horror Crossover Universe! 

    Release Date:  April 22, 1990 (Contemporary Setting)
    Horror Crosses:  Ghostbusters
    Non-Horror Crosses:  Muppet Show; Murphy Brown; Looney Tunes; Doogie Howser M.D.; Back to the Future; Nathan Thurm; Cheers; Cosby Show; Golden Girls; E.T. the Extraterrestrial; Married with Children
    The Story:  The pollution caused by humans is literally killing Mother Nature.  

    HCU Comments:  This is a mega television crossover event.  And despite the silly premise, all the crossed series remain true to the shows and films they come from.  There is an appearance of Elong Spengler, president of Waste Busters.  He is said to be the brother of Egon Spengler of Ghostbusters and is played by the same actor.  And yes, the Muppets are in this.  To explain the existence of Muppets in the HCU, I reference the Angle episode in which puppets are brought to life possessed by demons.  Or the Buffy episode with a human turned into a dummy.  Or Chucky from Child’s Play.   Murphy Brown, Doogie Howser, Cheers, the Cosby Show, the Golden Girls, and Married with Children are all standard sitcoms and are brought into the HCU by this cross.  Looney Tunes characters are animated drawings brought to life by the Necronomicon ex Mortis based on the film Evil Toons.  Back to the Future is already well established as part of the HCU, but his appearance of Doc Brown and his Delorean is a greater confirmation.  Nathan Thurm is a character from Saturday Night Live, but just as with the appearance of Father Guido Sarducci, this cross does not bring in the entire cast of characters from SNL. Finally, this cross brings in the loveable alien E.T.  

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