First, they were puppets in a movie. Then, they were animated characters. Then, they were computer-animated characters. And now, they’re puppets once again.
Entertainment Weekly has revealed that the Muppet Babies, in addition to their animated series, will also be featured in puppet form in a series of shorts coming to YouTube starting today. The videos will premiere every Friday through August 1st. And here’s the first video now!
This brings the characters full circle from their very first appearance in The Muppets Take Manhattan, where, in puppet form, they performed that immortal classic, “I’m Gonna Always Love You.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the show’s executive producer, Tom Warburton, explained the genesis of the series:
…There’s always a little gap in between seasons and I thought, “How can we do something fun with the Muppets, with the Muppet Babies in between seasons while kids are waiting for the new episodes?” And I thought, “What if we…” Of course, I’ve always wanted have real Muppets with these characters, so I came up with this idea of them interacting with real kids and I talked to Matt Danner, my co-producer and supervising director, and he’s also the voice of Kermit. I said, “What if we did this?” And he has an adult Kermit puppet sitting on his shelf. So we got the five-year-old niece of one of the production assistant and we went to the park and just shot on my iPhone a little skit of going like, “Hey, I saw you go down the slide. I really looks fun, but I’m scared. Can you show me how?” And the girl goes down the slide and then Kermit goes down the slide. It’s down and dirty. We shot it in half an hour, and then I went to Disney and showed it to them and they were like, “This is great. We have to do this.” Then we had to go through the process of budgeting and scheduling and, on top of all the production we’re already making. And we did it. It was a 3-day shoot and every day my heart was just exploding with how cool it was to see the Muppeteers work with our characters. This has been a dream come true.
The puppets look fantastic, reflecting the extremely detailed textures of the characters seen in the show. (Of course, it helps that the characters always resembled puppets to begin with.) And the set recreation of Miss Nanny’s backyard is impressive, too. It really feels like they turned the animated series into a three-dimensional, tactile environment. And as if that wasn’t enough, Eric Bauza (who voices the animated baby Fozzie) confirmed in a Facebook post that it was the regular Muppet performers working the puppets!
There are probably some old-school Babies fans who will be disappointed that Summer made it to live puppet form before Skeeter. But with the lack of Muppet stuff lately, it’s just nice to see these characters come to life in a brand new (or should I say old?) way.
The second season of Muppet Babies is expected to premiere later this year.
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by Matthew Soberman