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Archive for July 10th, 2017

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by Brian Wilson

Raquel Welch:  “Thank you Kermit, I had a wonderful time, but I don’t think I changed my image.”

Kermit the Frog:  “You may not have changed your image, but I think you may have changed ours.”

This above exchange between Raquel Welch and Kermit the Frog happened during the closing moments of an episode of The Muppet Show that aired, according to IMDb, on November 25, 1978.  During the episode, a scantily clad Raquel had, among other things, performed a sultry version of Diana Ross’ “Baby, It’s Me” while dancing with a giant (and surprisingly agile) Muppet spider, letting her disco freak flag fly.  At the wrap-up Kermit joked that Raquel’s presence was perhaps scandalous enough to end the series (“well, we’ve done everything we planned to do, so I seriously suspect that this is the end”).

 

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However, I believe our lovable frog may have been suffering from selective amnesia.  The Muppet Show changed the Muppets’ image right from the very start when it came bursting onto the scene as a syndicated series in the fall of 1976.  Jim Henson reportedly wanted to prove that his puppets were more than just the sweet little characters teaching tykes lessons on Sesame Street.  He wanted a series that kids could watch but adults would also enjoy on other levels.  In that regard, The Muppet Show is for kids the way Bugs Bunny cartoons were for kids:  madcap, lively, energetic, but with subversive jokes that would fly over the heads of the little ones watching.  And there was a danger present too.  Anything could happen on The Muppet Show:  sudden explosions, mishaps, Muppets eating other Muppets, a pig diva prone to rages of jealousy and becoming destructive in the process.

The first signs of Jim Henson wanting to change the Muppets’ image can be found in a very early episode of the series, the second one to ever air. Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street appear as special guests, and Bert especially radiates fear, nervous about being away from his comfortable home. Bert suddenly finds himself in a romantic dance number with the provocative Connie Stevens, who tries wooing him as they pair up for a rendition of the song “Some Enchanted Evening.”  After Stevens tries to plant one on his quivering lips, Bert declares that he and Ernie must leave this wild place, flee back to the innocent world of Sesame Street. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Summer is upon us in full throttle and for some this is the annual opportunity to leave the house.  Others no doubt will avail themselves of the opportunity to attend films, plays and other cultural events, as well as day trips, museum visits and some time in the parks.  Here at Wonders in the Dark, the current order of business is the Greatest Television Series countdown, which launched on the heels of the concurrent voting to determined the subject of the eighty essays that comprise the venture.  Thus far the writing and the responses have been exceptional, and we still have a long way to go – well into September in fact.  Thanks to all who have placed ‘likes’ and left comments, as well as those who prefer to read and lurk.

Lucille and I were mostly home bound this past week -after of course our morning duties in the school system.  My own summer school program runs until Monday, July 31st.  I have had to cut back my movie going to open up time to write my own essays and to engineer marathon viewings of my subjects, and that has been a blistering affair.

We did see two more films in the ‘Strictly Streisand’ Festival at the Quad, and the new 4K restoration of the classic French prison drama Le Trou by Jacques Becker at the Film Forum: (more…)

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