By Kyran Leahy – Film & TV Editor
The 1970’s brought us some major figures that lit up the world during the decade and have remained in the spotlight in modern times. From the actors that have remained ever present on the screens like Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino to the music of Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, and Elton John that have continued to dominate radio stations all over the world. There are plenty of acts out there who were able to play the music and light the lights of their decade and continue to be a part of the lives of many generations afterwards, but there is also a group that has managed to achieve that without even being human – that being the Muppets, who are once again back in the spotlight after the iconic The Muppet Show was brought to Disney+ against all odds on February 19th.
The idea of The Muppet Show being brought to streaming services was highly unlikely just a few months ago. The show not only had a multitude of song covers throughout its five year run, but several famous singers from Johnny Cash to Debbie Harry also appeared as special guests and sang songs of their own. There were several issues securing music rights because of the large number of songs used, with these issues being the primary reason Disney refused to release the later seasons on DVD. Thankfully, those issues seem to be behind us, with only a few segments and a small number of episodes being cut due to music rights or controversy regarding the guest. The release of The Muppet Show on Disney+ has allowed the already popular puppets to gain new fans and allow the old fans to reminisce of the days when they were some of the biggest celebrities in the world.
The Muppets came from the genius mind of Jim Henson, also the creator of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Labyrinth, that weird 80’s movie where David Bowie struts around in an outfit only David Bowie would wear. The Muppet Show, which premiered in 1975, gave so much life to a bunch of puppets that we do not even think of them as puppets anymore. The show sparked several movies, spin-offs, merchandise, and tabloids became more invested in Kermit and Miss Piggy’s relationship than several other celebrities. When Jim Henson died in 1990, the Muppets managed to live on, and despite a steady decline in popularity throughout the noughties, they found a new lease of life adapting to the times with viral internet videos and a successful reboot. For nearly fifty years the public has been invested in Fozzie’s jokes, Beaker’s misfortunes, and Miss Piggy’s long list of escapades, and they are showing no signs of slowing down.
If it was not painstakingly obvious, I grew up as a massive fan of the Muppets, and remain a fan of them today. It was one of the few shows that I grew up on that was also around on television when my parents were children, so it is fair to say that the Muppets appeared prominently in my upbringing. I had the VHS’s of The Muppet Show, along with probably every movie they released, The Muppets Take Manhattan being my favourite. I had plush toys, action figures, video games, the whole lot. I saw the 2011 reboot movie The Muppets as soon as it came out. I have several cherished memories with them, and to see an entirely new generation get the chance to fall in love with them like I did is both exciting and heart-warming for me. They have been a part of peoples’ upbringing for nearly half a century, and the characters are instantly recognisable to the eyes of everyone.
The Muppets are timeless, and they will remain timeless and they have an advantage that we lack, they never age. As we get older, they will always be around looking and acting the same. Their finest work being widely available on one of the kingpins of streaming opens the doors to many possibilities for the future of the Muppets. Many are crying out for a return to the big screen in a style similar to their take on A Christmas Carol, where Michael Caine was the human Ebenezer Scrooge surrounded by Muppets. When the Muppets announced special news regarding The Muppets Show earlier in the month, the first idea that came to the minds of fans was their own version of The Great Gatsby, which, let’s be honest, we would all love to see at some point. The future is bright for the wide range of beloved characters, but for now, we can sit back and watch their finest moments with ease at long last.