It’s time to play the music,
It’s time to light the lights,
It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight!
Those words still elicit a feeling of joy and excitement whenever I hear them. Just try reading that without wanting to sing the song.
What’s your thing? You know what I mean. I’m talking about that song, that toy, cartoon or other show or that movie that lights you up because it was the spark that turned you into a pop culture junkie for the rest of your life.
Some people have never had this moment so their interests lie in sports or science or even history. They prefer the literal world to the imagined one. This blog entry is not for them, unless they’re just curious about how the mind of the geek works. Yes, I called myself a geek. I fly my geek flag proudly. It’s a term of endearment for those of us who “geek” out about the things we love. We debate our position endlessly as to what is great and what absolutely sucks! No middle ground allowed here. Your opinion only matters if it matters a great deal to you.
For me, it all started with Sesame Street, probably around the time I was three or four. Rubber ducky was the one and a love affair that’s lasted longer than any other was born. That show shaped me in many ways and I still quote from it endlessly. I was in the company of a toddler recently and during a game of catch, he got too close to me so I told him to back up. He ended up backing up at least twenty feet. The first thing that popped into my head was, “Near… far.” If you get the reference, you too might be a geek.
But that was just the beginning of Jim Henson’s legacy. Soon after came the pièce de résistance, The Muppet Show. What more could a show offer – comedy, musical acts, drama and the best special guests. It was like Ed Sullivan for kids. Kermit was a wonderful and gracious host, always trying to keep his performers happy. I remember Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) singing about the “Rubber Band Man” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” most vividly.
Kermit and the gang went on to star in an ingenious spot of lunacy called The Muppet Movie. “Myth, myth!” “Yeth?” No other song stirs the heartstrings quite like “Rainbow Connection.” It’s a sweet little ditty that always gives me a warm fuzzy. Have a listen.
Moving right along, many other fun shows and films followed – Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and one that not everyone remembers, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. Only one other creative mind from my childhood would matter nearly as much, and that was Dr. Seuss. Henson died the year I graduated from high school and then Dr. Seuss the following year. It felt like my childhood had died right along with them.
It wasn’t until around 2001 that my love for the Muppets was stirred once again. A new line of action figures based on the Muppets was launched for the 25th anniversary. I was going to get them all. I was that type of collector, and I made sure I pre-ordered each wave of figures and secured whatever I couldn’t get through retail means on the auction site, eBay. I have practically all of the exclusives except for a few redundant ones created for special events.
In the very near future, there will be a brand spanking new Muppet movie in theaters. As much as I love the Muppets, I have to wonder–will it live up to my expectations? Will it be any good at all?
As the X-Files put so well, I want to believe. I want to believe that even though Jim Henson, the heart and soul of the Muppets, has been gone for over 20 years, the characters, a part of our collective psyche, can live on. Will someone else be able to capture the magic and bring them to life again? The actor, Jason Segel, is a huge fan too and this is a labor of love for him. He wrote the script and from the trailers, it looks like all of the manic energy and general silliness is there in abundance.
Here’s hoping for the best! I will most likely revisit this topic after Thanksgiving but in the meantime, enjoy the latest trailer.