Saturday, February 10, 2007


There's news from Muppet Central that the Muppets may well be coming back. A ten minute presentation pilot has been filmed and this could lead to a new series. What's being proposed is a mock documentary (ala "The Office") showing the Muppets trying to create a new show. It's a format I think would work really well.

The above clip really brings back memories. My older sister and I used to sit in the back of the car when we were kids singing Mahna Mahna. I imagine it drove my mother up the wall.

One of the very first jobs I had in animation involved working at the Henson studios in London one weekend. I was working at Passion Pictures at the time and we were told we would be working the weekend (to get a job finished). We were all a bit glum at the prospect, but the minute the production staff mentioned we'd be working at the Henson Creature Workshop in Camden, suddenly we were all incredibly enthusiastic. It was an amazing building stuffed with Muppets. The reception had display cases with Skeksis in them, one of the meeting rooms had Statler and Waldorf sat either end of a couch (so you'd sit between them). The workshops were full of animatronic creatures.

A year or so later I went there for a meeting along with Curtis Jobling to develop or pitch tv show ideas (I can't quite remember which). I remember sitting in a development meeting at one point with Rygel from Farscape sat at the head of the table. There were Muppets everywhere. I also pinched one of their coffee mugs which had Jim Henson Company written on it with a picture of Kermit, which they were perfectly happy for me to have, but, I think I would have been pushing my luck if I'd picked up Statler or Waldorf and stuffed them in my bag too.


dragonhead said...

The Muppets coming back? Interesting. Just hope they still make it with the love that the original show had.

In regards to the previous video: even though animation may not directly involve paper anymore, isn't it important for an animator to have drawing skills?

I. N. J. Culbard said...

There's a lot of people who still use animation paper and scan scenes in. The only point where I use paper is in storyboards and rough designs (and then I don't use animation paper, just regular A4 paper). I draw on a wacom tablet, so drawing is still very much an integral element as it would have been using animation paper, it's just on a different surface using a different tool. The key difference in drawing on a tablet and drawing on paper is hand-eye coordination. You don't look at the pen tip when you're drawing you look at the screen. For people not comfortable working that way there are graphics tablets where you have the screen on the tablet surface, there are also pens you can buy which allow you to draw on paper on the tablet (so you're not looking up at the screen, you're back to looking at the pen tip).

Anonymous said...

that would be good news.

they've tried it before,
IMO have struggled to get back some of the charm of the classic muppet show.

Muppets Tonight wasn't very good, but the recent Wizard of Oz tv special had some nice scenes- that felt more like the classic (pre-disney) muppets.

the office premise is stale.
although it is a good vehicle to hang jokes on...I'll definitely watch the first episode should it air.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

A mate of mine Rich Dolan worked over at Henson's in Camden for a while,he said the building looked proper run down from the outside,like an old warehouse,I suppose the average person would never suspect what went on in there !!

I love the Muppets but I'm not too sure about a new series !!

I. N. J. Culbard said...

It boomed in the days of wall to wall variety shows, so it's understandable that the show has trouble finding a home with todays audiences. Mention of "the Office" makes me wonder if it's aimed at the audiences that originally watched the show rather than being aimed at potentially new audiences. If the show had kept running, instead of Jim Henson dropping the curtain on it to move onto bigger and better things, then it could well have evolved into what they're proposing now quite some time ago.

I think Sesame Street is still going isn't it?

Jo Bling said...

Yeah but Sesame Workshop is an altogether seperate beast, Ian. Speaking directly with hensons execs and, regardless of how the critics loved it, the Muppets Tonight show (which I loved) bombed with the viewing figures. And that in itself put paid to our own hopes of getting a show off the ground with them as I recall.

I'd heard about the new "single camera" pilot. Look forward to seeing how it goes...