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Little Muppet Monsters

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MuppetMonsters-30Years-4
First aired September 14, 1985
Last aired September 21, 1985
Network CBS
Seasons 1
No. of episodes 3 aired, 18 made
LMM promo Edit
Slide scan
LMM The Works Edit
Tug, Boo

Boo, Scooter and Tug

LittleMuppetMonsters edit1

Tug, Boo, Molly and Scooter

Little Muppet Monsters was a 1985 Saturday morning TV show which aired only three episodes on CBS, with as many as 15 episodes going unaired.[1] The first season of Muppet Babies did very well in the ratings, so CBS decided to expand the series from half an hour to an hour-long block, pairing Muppet Babies with Little Muppet Monsters to make an hour-long package (with its own intro) called Muppets, Babies and Monsters.

The show was anchored by three young Muppet monsters, TugBoo, and Molly, living with Muppet rats, penguins and other characters. Muppet Show characters such as ScooterKermit, Janice, and Floyd appeared in cameos. The Electric Mayhem were featured in both intros watching the show on television, as they excitedly bounced about on a living room sofa. Miss Piggy also appears in the intro.

Muppet segments included "Fozzie's Comedy Corner," with Fozzie discussing issues related to old jokes, illustrated through animation of a baby chicken, and Gonzo presenting a cavalcade of weirdness, using silent film footage. Each episode also featured an original Muppet song.

Recurring animated segments included "Pigs in Space," "Kermit the Frog, Private Eye" (with Fozzie and Miss Piggy, as introduced by the puppet Kermit), "Muppet Sports Shorts" starring Animal, and Muppet Labs with Bunsen and BeakerGonzo would also have appeared in animated segments.

Storyboard director Scott Shaw discussed the show in MuppetZine issue #3 (Winter 1993):

The concept of this second half-hour was neither simple nor particularly well-developed. A trio of new (live-action) Muppet Monster Kids, working from the basement of the adult Muppets' home, create their own television station which broadcasts only to the TV sets in the house upstairs...

Although eighteen episodes were produced, only three of them ever aired; Henson Associates and CBS agreed that the concept had never been properly thought out and just wasn't up to Henson's high standards. To Jim's credit, it was his idea to pull the show from the Saturday morning lineup. ...I've always felt that the juxtapositioning of live-action and animated Muppets invited an unfavorable comparison, to which the cartoon version inevitably suffered; the puppetry was just too good. The combination of Muppet babies, adults and kid monsters was very disorienting. Also, due to a lack of development time, the concept -- and therefore, the writing and designs -- never quite jelled.

A major factor that contributed to the show's cancellation was the fact that Marvel Productions had trouble delivering the animation on time. Marvel "blew it," as series writer and puppeteer Kathy Mullen remembered in 2013, and there were no completed shows to fill the extra half hour: "So they [CBS] put another Muppet Babies on, two episodes back-to-back, the viewership shot up, and they said, 'Forget Little Muppet Monsters.'" As for the unaired episodes, "We never finished them. The puppet wrap-arounds were done, but they never put the animation in."[2]

The show was split at about 50% animation and 50% puppetry, with appearances by Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and others being shot in London, and the rest in New York. The puppet segments from three unaired episodes were leaked to the internet in 2015.

Even after Little Muppet Monsters was cancelled, an instrumental version of its opening theme was used in the Muppet Babies end credits from 1985 onward.

Episodes

  • "In the Beginning" - 9/14/1985
  • "Space Cowboys" - 9/21/1985
  • "The Great Boodini" - 9/27/1985
  • "Hi, Mars" - Unaired
  • "Monster Measles" - Unaired
  • "Gonzo's Talent Hunt" - Unaired
  • "Can't Stop the Music" - Unaired
  • "Boo Monster Ace Reporter" - Unaired
  • "Feels Like Rain" - Unaired
  • "Foo-Foo Phooey" - Unaired
  • "Penguin for a Day" - Unaired
  • "Gunko" - Unaired
  • "Mail-Order Guest" - Unaired
  • "Episode 14 (Title Unknown)" - Unaired
  • "Episode 15 (Title Unknown)" - Unaired
  • "Episode 16 (Title Unknown)" - Unaired
  • "Episode 17 (Title Unknown)" - Unaired
  • "Episode 18 (Title Unknown)" - Unaired

Puppet Cast

With
And

Voice Cast

Crew

Imagination illustrated (1)

Michael Frith's design for Tug (Big Brother Monster)

Merchandise

PlayskoolLittleMuppetMonstersBoo

Playskool frame tray puzzle by Guy Gilchrist

Henson archivist Karen Falk spoke about the series' licensing campaign: 

As to Little Muppet Monsters, I do not have any licensed product from that show. There was an ambitious licensing program discussed (toys, games, puzzles, apparel, housewares, and stationery) but very little produced.

According to the Henson newsletter, Toy Fair 1986 would have seen the launch of plush by Hasbro, board games and puzzles by Milton Bradley, puzzles by Playskool, costumes by Ben Cooper, stickers by Diamond Toy, balloons by Balloon Concepts, boys and girls sportwear by Allison Mfg., greeting cards by Hallmark, belts by Lee Belts, pajamas by PCA Apparel, and party supplies and gift wrap by Beach Producers. The show was not on the air long enough for this to occur. A Playskool puzzle drawn by Guy Gilchrist was produced in very limited quantities. [3]

Unaired Episodes

  • Puppet segments from the unaired episodes "Foo-Foo Phooey," "Gunko" and "Gonzo's Talent Hunt" were leaked to the internet in 2015. These are incomplete but run 31 minutes in total. Songs are "Pooch On the Loose," "Gunko" and "Even Carrots Get the Blues." Some Fozzie and Kermit segments are missing. While a scene between Tug and Kermit is missing on the tape, it's known that Tug and Kermit did film together during the series. (Although in the first episode, Tug visits Kermit without interacting onscreen.)
  • The episode "Foo-Foo Phooey" featured a "Frog Scouts" segment. This may have been animated, as the cartoon model sheet for Gonzo shows him wearing a scoutmaster uniform (and crash helmet).
  • In CBS' 1985 Saturday morning preview special (All-Star Rock 'N' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular), Pee Wee Herman and Rowdy Roddy Piper introduced a scene with Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo from an unaired episode. Other clips shown were from slightly different edits of scenes. A different take of the penguins, and a different take of Gonzo saying "see what I mean?"
  • In a newspaper article, the unaired song "Gunko" is credited to "James Carroll." (Possibly Joe Carroll?) [4]
  • Steve Morgenstern wrote on episodes "Gunko," "Foo-Foo Phooey" and "Gonzo's Talent Hunt," while Sarah Durkee wrote the episode "Feels Like Rain." This included the song "It's Not Gonna Rain" by Durkee and Chris Cerf.

Notes

MuppetMonsters-30Years-19

The cast in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years.

  • The three monster kids were also seen briefly in the special The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, which was broadcast in January 1986. The special was shot before the decision was made to take Monsters off the air, so the show cheerfully plugged the Muppets' latest production -- even though that production had been cancelled four months earlier.
  • The series aired as the hourlong "Muppets, Babies and Monsters," with one set of credits. Each hour began with a different, short clip from the upcoming Muppet Babies or Muppet Monsters episode before the "Muppets, Babies and Monsters" titles. Episode 1 showed a clip of Tug Monster welcoming us to the show. Episode 2 showed Baby Kermit as "Indiana Frog." Episode 3 showed The Big Bad Wolf interrupting Snow White (Skeeter).
  • The opening and closing titles to episode 3 ("Muppets, Babies and Monsters" and "Little Muppet Monsters") are slightly different from the opening and closing titles to episode 1, incorporating some different clips. Episode 2's opening titles match episode 1 (closing titles unknown).
  • Tug Monster appears briefly in the introduction to The Muppets at Walt Disney World, mauling Michael Eisner. All three monsters were reused multiple times in Mopatop's Shop.
  • The penguin band are known as "Nicky Napoleon and his Emperor Penguins."
  • Posters for Pigs in Space, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppet Movie and other Muppet productions appear on the set walls.
  • Gonzo's segment in the first episode "In the Beginning" features clips from the 1923 Snub Pollard silent comedy film "It's a Gift."
  • Footage from "Kermit the Frog: Private Eye" in the MB&M opening sequence is photographed differently than in the final show.
  • The final episode of Muppet Babies, aired in 1990, reused some animation from "Little Muppet Monsters" episode 2. Due to that, you can hear Jim Henson voice Kermit for a single line. Henson passed away earlier that year.

Sources

  1. Jim Henson: The Works (pg. 208)
  2. Tough Pigs interview with Kathy Mullen
  3. Jim Henson's Red Book
  4. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1961&dat=19851007&id=HpYzAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V-kFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1388,2788334>

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