Lost Signals: Muppets Tonight (1996)
Ever 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.
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.