“The Muppets” opened in theaters last week, and it has already raked in more than $29.5 million at the box office.
The movie was close to perfection. Only one thing was missing: the Muppet Babies.
Launched in 1984's “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and given their own animated series (aptly titled “Muppet Babies”) the following fall, they also made a split-second appearance in the 1987 television special “A Muppet Family Christmas.”
“Muppet Babies” ran for seven seasons, winning four Emmys for Outstanding Animated Series. What made the show so magical was the "anything is possible" message it sent to kids. It also contained the signature Jim Henson elements that made audiences gravitate toward his many creations: Humor which kids and adults could enjoy, parodies of things like “I Love Lucy” and “Star Wars,” Kermit’s nephew Robin depicted as a tadpole in a fishbowl (on “The Muppet Show,” he was a young frog).
Also, audiences only got a "Muppet Baby’s"-eye view of Nanny's purple sneakers and green-striped stockings (tip of the hat to the muffled voices of the adults in “Charlie Brown,” perhaps?). Speaking of Nanny, fans will also recall what seemed to be a salacious relationship between her and the cop who lived next door – Officer Caruthers.
(Miss) Piggybacking on the success of the new movie, CNN spoke to Dave Coulier (of “Full House” fame), who provided the voices for five “Muppet Babies” characters: Animal, Bunsen Honeydew, Waldorf and Statler, and Bean Bunny. Coulier replaced Howie Mandel during the second season with the voices of Bunsen and Animal.
CNN: Did you “learn” the voices or did you incorporate voices that you already used?
Dave Coulier: I just mimicked what Howie had done. They were pretty big shoes to fill because Howie had come up with such great voices.
CNN: Do you have a favorite character?
DC: Waldorf and Statler are my favorite characters. They are so funny, and how many times do you get to “rip” on a show that you're a part of?
CNN: Did you work in the studio alongside the other voiceover artists, or were your schedules completely different?
DC: We all worked together and laughed a lot. Hank Saroyan was our director, and he finally made me and Frank Welker sit at opposite sides of the recording studio because we made each other laugh so hard. Lots of fart humor and having our characters say things that were never fit for a Saturday morning cartoon.
CNN: Did you ever ad-lib any of your lines?
DC: We had to stick to the script most of the time, but Hank would occasionally let me ad lib.
CNN: Do you think “Muppet Babies” will ever be released on DVD?
DC: I sure hope “Muppet Babies” gets released on DVD. I've heard there are a lot of legal issues in regard to live-action movie rights. We used a lot of footage that studios own and it may be cost prohibitive to release the show at this point.
CNN: What was up with Nanny and Officer Caruthers?
DC: I'm not really sure what was up with Nanny and Officer Caruthers. I guess I'll have to leave that one to all those warped minds out there.
CNN: What do you think became of Skeeter?
DC: I'm not sure what happened. Maybe Skeeter got too close to one of Bunsen's experiments gone awry?
CNN: Do you have any funny production stories from behind-the-scenes that fans might enjoy?
DC: We used to do what we called "efforting" sounds - whenever a character would grunt, while pushing a heavy object for instance. In one scene, Fozzie (played by Greg Berg) and Animal (played by yours truly) had to climb a ladder. As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making "efforting" sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at Frank Welker and we couldn't contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing. As we're catching our breath, and with perfect timing, Greg Berg - in character as Fozzie - says sheepishly, "Excuse me." I was laughing so hard that I had to crawl out of the studio. Good times.
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Hank: I believe that Coulier is referring to DVDs, not airings on TV. Rights seem to be different for video releases.
Katie: There was in fact a Muppet Babies lunchbox in Walter's room. This is the biggest acknowledgement of the Babies' existence in 20 years of Muppet productions.
Also, you might be interested to know that there was a "Muppet Show" series of comic books over the last few years, and Skeeter made a return appearance (and her first ever appearance as an adult) in the "Family Reunion" story arc.
The Muppets were such a big part of my childhood. I remember watching The Muppet Show with my parents and how I thought it was the funniest and best show on Earth. It was something we did as a family. I also remember getting up and watching The Muppet Babies on Saturday Morning Cartoons. What great memories. I really hope they release a Muppet Babies DVD. It will be great to share with my kids.
FYI, re: Dave Coulier's comment about rights clearances on MUppet Babies film clips, Star Wars, Raiders, Cosby, Johnny Carson, etc. ... as not only voice director, but story editor and VP of network series production for Marvel and executive in charge of every episode of Muppet Babies.. i assure you and Dave all that each and every clip and frame of a clip was cleared worldwide, in all media in perpetuity per our contractual obligations with the Henson organization. whoever started these rumors is just plain wrong or has the agenda of keeping the shows off the air. all clips were cleared by my office at Marvel, they could have been shown on Mars on a particle beam device and would have been cleared. anyone with questions about these rights especially at Disney should contact me.
I LOVED Kermit's nephew, Robin.
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