I have three tattoos, and two of those are Muppet related. I have Kermit’s eye (aka the Muppet Wiki logo) on my left inner wrist, and I have Jim Henson’s original design for Big Bird on my right arm. But covering the vast majority of my left bicep is the TARDIS from Doctor Who, in honor of my late father who I lost earlier this year, and with whom I’d watched every episode with for 15 years. So with it sitting on my arm all day I think about the TARDIS a lot more than you’d think. The TARDIS is well known for being bigger on the inside, almost infinite, always changing, with wonders galore. Which got me wondering about another object that seems to follow the same rules;
Oscar the Grouch’s trash can. As we’ve seen a hundred times since 1969, Oscar’s can is big enough to hold a swimming pool, an elephant, Big Bird, and every human on the Street to sneak into the movies. So, is Oscar’s trash can a hint that he may be a time travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey? Because he has more in common with the Time Lord’s than you’d think…
Okay, so let’s start with what we already know – Oscar’s can is magically bigger on the inside, very similar to the TARDIS, which takes the appearance of a 1960’s Police Box. We’ve been inside the can multiple times in various productions, including our best look during Elmo In Grouchland (as seen above), with features like an ice skating rink, a bowling alley, a set of farm animals and full living quarters. Rooms confirmed to be inside the TARDIS include bedrooms, a swimming pool, double story wardrobes and even a zero gravity chamber. Whoever designed the TARDIS had to be the interior decorator of Oscar’s can, unless it was designed to be that way and all Time Lords have swimming pools as a feature in their ships.
The TARDIS also changes its inner appearances regularly, or as one Doctor calls it, ‘the desktop theme’. It can look sleek and clean, but it can also look kinda dingy and dirty, depending on what that particular Doctor feels like at the time (my personal favorite was late-Matt Smith era, Peter Capaldi era interior). The inside of Oscar’s can also changes appearance, as you can see here on Muppet Wiki, sometimes looking like a lovely home, other times looking like a literal dump, other times looking like Eric Jacobson’s garage apparently (the Webby Award one).
Then there are the regenerations. Though Oscar is still at his basis the grouch we know and love, there’s no doubt that he has changed over the years. Starting out as orange in Season 1, he became green in Season 2 and gave the excuse that it was swamp gunk from Swamp Mushy Muddy. I think this is a lie, and that Oscar regenerated between seasons. Since the show began he’s had 15 different looks, which is also how many Doctors there have been (including Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor). Coincidence? Absolutely not. And while you may say ‘But Jarrod, if Oscar regenerated, how come he keeps the basic look the same?’. For this, we turn to David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, and how the Doctor is using the same face for his 14th iteration. It appears that Time Lords can choose faces (also think Peter Capaldi’s Doctor choosing the face of the man he saved in Pompeii), even if it’s a subconcious reason they discover through the series. Perhaps Oscar is choosing to keep a similar face because he knows it will help the kids watching to learn and not be confused at a new puppet.
This allows Oscar to change small things, like giving himself a brown eyebrow instead of a blue one in the 70’s, or making his eye gap width shorter or longer, or, for some unknown reason, making himself shaggier. I don’t know if anyone at Sesame can hear me, but please change that puppet. It’s awful.
Grouches may also be immortal, or at least age extremely slowly like Time Lords. We’ve known Oscar for 54 years, and yet he seems the same age, even with his minor regenerations. His niece, Irvine, has been around since 1979 and yet when seen in 2016, 37 years later, she is still a baby. This can only be because grouches are aliens, probably.
The Numeric Con episode of Sesame Street establishes that Muppet Time Lords do exist, so my theories aren’t that far fetched. I can’t imagine we’ll ever get a solid answer as to the alien technology Oscar uses for his can, or how he continues to change his face. Unless Oscar appears in the upcoming 60th anniversary specials of Doctor Who. He’s playing Donna Noble, isn’t he?
By Jarrod Fairclough – Jarrod@ToughPigs.com
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