Lost Signals: Muppets Tonight (1996)

Sandra Bullock and Muppets Tonight

Muppets Tonight LogoEver since Strange Kid and I went to see The Muppets last week our minds have sort of been obsessed with searching out every old Muppet movie, TV series or holiday special that we can find around the clubhouse. Not only was The Muppets one of THE best films I’ve seen all year, but it really reminded me of what it was like to be a kid again (Strange Kid doesn’t have that problem). Seeing those “old friends” back on the screen again after so long and hearing Rainbow Connection really struck a chord that’s sorta awakened the dreamer in me again.

It’s not a perfect film, I’ll admit, but for fans of the legacy that Jim Henson has left behind its an awesome tribute and welcome addition to Muppet canon. Jason Segel deserves special credit in this regard as his enthusiasm for both his character in the film and the Muppets in general go a long way to make it a memorable experience. It even featured almost all of the Muppet characters ever created – including my all-time favorite, Uncle Deadly (who comes through in a big way)!

I say almost because, for whatever reason, it seems like the cast of Muppets Tonight is entirely absent. Muppets Tonight was a short-lived show that debuted on ABC back in 1996 before being cancelled (it was later re-broadcast on Disney). While the basic premise of the series was similar to The Muppet Show, the new show featured several new gags and characters like Johnny Fiama, Sal Minella, Bobo the Bear, Pepe the King Prawn, and Andy & Randy Pig. The show also starred Clifford, he originally appeared on The Jim Henson Hour, making his first major role as the “host.”

Although the show officially ended after only two seasons, there were a butt load of A-list guest stars that appeared on the show ranging from John Goodman and Jason Alexander to Whoopi Goldberg and Rick Moranis. There were also some really funny ongoing comedy sketches like Fairyland PD, Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine and my personal favorite Tales from the Vet which introduced us to the Andy Dick of Muppets, Dr. Phil van Neuter, and his assistant Mulch. The Tales from the Vet segments were very much a knock-off of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt and saw the eccentric mad doctor (really an adult take on Dr. Honeydew) revealing his animal-themed tales of terror.

Muppets Tonight Cast

In its own way Muppets Tonight is very much a pop culture time capsule of the mid-90s; one that brings back memories of endless hours playing Super Nintendo, watching WWF Superstars of Wrestling, and (of course) the Muppets.

Written by Rondal

Rondal is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club and a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and a mind for adventure. Rondal has written for other sites including Rue Morgue, Fuel Your Illustration and Bloodsprayer. His obsession with horror movies, 80s animation and action figures is considered unhealthy by medical professionals.

2237 posts
  • debbie

    my son (Ron’s cousin) was born in ’93 so the Muppets were part of his world. I “vaguely” remember Muppets Tonite untill this article and remember so much more. I loved, and still love the Muppets and so wish they were back on TV. My daughter missed the pleasure of watching the muppets growing up. I plan on seeing the movie with her but if I don’t get there….there’s always the dvd when it comes out =)

    • Same here! Maybe if we’re lucky this new movie will catch the eye of a few TV execs out there. 😀

      • LaDracul

        The Muppeteers already hope the movie’s success will lead to a TV show…I hope so, as there WAS a failed attempt to get a new one off the ground. (Enrique Iglesias said he was going to be a guest star on one years ago, but it never came to be.) But even this show was unfinished, which is a shame.

  • Dex

    We can only hope for a new show! I like Deadly’s final scene in the movie but his use as a stooge in the rest of it disappointed me.

    And one of my other favorites, Pepe, kinda got the..uh, short end of the stick also, okay? But I know this movie had to really focus on the core cast.

  • I just ‘digitally acquired’ the Muppets Tonight series and am about to watch it again to see how it held up over time. I hope the success of The Muppets gets them another shot at a TV show.

    I’ve been on a kick lately of seeking out obscure Muppet stuff too. I’ve been trying to track down the early 90s special where they go to Disney World. Have you seen that one?

    • You’ll have to let me know what you think of the show, looking back. I caught a few episodes like the one above on Youtube and have to admit that I liked them a bit more than the classic Muppet Show.

      I remember see a really poor copy of the Disney World special on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTnc3eXJU_Q), but nothing of good quality.