Well, here we are, a week into the year 2019. So far, it feels a lot like 2018. But I’m feeling optimistic, and hoping this year will be a little bit happier than last year for us Muppet fans. With that in mind, and also stealing an idea from my esteemed colleague Joe Hennes, here are my Hopes for a Muppety 2019.

A New Muppet Something-or-Other on Disney’s Streaming Service 

This is the year Disney launches its own streaming service, Disney+. This is exciting because it gives us yet another source of entertaining movies and TV shows to watch, and yet another subscription we have to pay for every month. There have already been plenty of rumors indicating that a new Muppet series is on the table (and Kermit the Frog recently alluded vaguely to a “big announcement” in 2019), so I feel pretty good about this one. 

But what will it be? Will they lean closer to the old-school variety show format? Will they strike the ideal balance between crazy chaos and contemporary comedy that 2015’s The Muppets never quite found? Or will it be a procedural crime drama featuring the Muppets solving murders? Whatever it is, I’ll be watching! 

Old Muppet Something-or-Others on Disney’s Streaming Service 

One of the reasons the Disney people are all jazzed about Disney+ is that they can use it to stream stuff that they already own, including lots of old favorites that the audience already loves. As long as they’re diving into their huge catalog, there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t include classic Muppet specials, movies, and… dare I say it? The complete run of The Muppet Show? Maybe that’s too optimistic, but I hope Disney knows there are lots of Muppet fans out there pining for all 120 episodes. And I hope they understand that if we don’t get those, episodes, we’ll be really, really annoyed.

Another Big Boffo Live Muppet Performance

The Electric Mayhem’s 2016 concert at the Outside Lands festival was thrilling, but it was just an appetizer for 2017’s full-fledged live Muppet stage show at the Hollywood Bowl and a 2018 follow-up at London’s O2. Audiences have pretty universally loved these shows, so the Muppets should keep that tour bus rolling. NYC’s Radio City Music Hall would be a perfect location for the next one, but I’m sure there’s another perfect venue where you live too. Here’s hoping Kermit and his crew get another chance to make that magic happen.

Diamond Selects Dr. Teeth and Zoot

I guess it’s been apparent for a while now that Diamond Selects’ line of Muppet action figures doesn’t have a lot of life left in it. Still, in 2018 we finally got the Swedish Chef figure we’d long hope to see become a reality, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that Dr. Teeth and Zoot manage to see the light of day in 2019, before the whole line is officially done. The proposed Sam and Rizzo figures would be nice, too, but our Diamond Select Floyd, Janice and Animal figures are looking mighty lonely without their bandmates. Can they ever truly get in the groove without the golden tones of Dr. Teeth’s keyboard and the sleepy sax of Zoot?

Lots of Great Stuff for Fans Old and Young for Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary 

Sesame Workshop has already teased that they have big plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, one of the greatest television programs in history. So I’ll just say I hope the celebration is fun for Sesame fans of all ages, with delightful Muppet appearances on TV, a TV special worthy of the show, and some nifty merchandise (How about a Teeny Little Super Guy replica glass?).

Also, it would be great to see some sketches and online videos in the spirit of the classic years… Ernie exasperating Bert in their apartment, Oscar being mean to everyone, Prairie Dawn directing a pageant, Telly being nervous, and of course, Cookie Monster eating cookies and everything else. Pop culture parodies are all well and good for getting YouTube hits, but it would be lovely to see the characters just being themselves.

A Cool, Engrossing, Visually Impressive Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 

It looks like Henson’s new Dark Crystal series on Netflix has a lot of potential. The promise of prioritizing puppets over computer animation is intriguing, and indicates that the show will have a tangible, hand-crafted feel similar to the movie. The Jim Henson Company knows animatronics better than anyone, and they’ve lined up an impressive voice cast for the new and returning characters.

But should there even be a new Dark Crystal production? The 1982 movie is flawed, with fantastic visuals but a thin story and a fairly boring lead. And in fact, that’s why I think a prequel series with a new cast of Gelflings is a good idea. A multi-episode series not starring Jen has the potential to be a more fully-realized story than the movie. And it’ll be neat if a whole new generation of young viewers discovers Aughra’s removable eyeball.

More Great Behind-the-Scenes Info 

This year’s documentary Muppet Guys Talking let us sit in on Muppet performers talking about what they do, and it was equal parts entertaining and informative. Frank Oz continues to share valuable insights and memories on Twitter on a semi-regular basis. But we Muppet fans are nothing if not greedy, so I’d like to get another dose of behind-the-scenes memories and how’d-they-do-thats. Frank has vowed never to write a book, but how about a Muppet memoir by Dave Goelz? Or maybe this is the year we finally get that Fraggle Rock coffee table book? Or an oral history of Aliens in the Family? I want to know everything about everything!

Another Great Year for Tough Pigs

We have our work cut out for us this year. Our series of reviews of every episode of The Muppet Show continues to be some of this website’s best work, and our new Sesame Street: 50 in 50 series looks to be just as fascinating. Before too long we’ll be back with the second season of our Movin’ Right Along podcast to talk about The Great Muppet Caper. And as always, we’ll be coming at you with news, commentary, and tomfoolery related to every Muppety thing under the sun.

So I hope it’s all insightful and witty, and I hope there’s plenty of exciting new stuff for us to write about. And when I read this again on December 31, I hope I feel great about how many of my hopes came true. That would be the best new year’s gift of all. Well, that and those Zoot and Dr. Teeth toys.

Click here to celebrate Aughra’s eyeball on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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