Recently, I asked YOU, the readers of this website, to give me your opinions of Muppets Haunted Mansion via a classic Tough Pigs article format we call Two Things. The concept is very simple: You tell me one thing you liked about the special and one thing you didn’t like.
I got SO many responses that I’m splitting this follow-up post into two parts. This is the first part, which I’m cleverly calling “Part 1.”
As you read these, you’ll notice some recurring themes. For one thing, the most common “Didn’t Like” response was that the special wasn’t long enough. A lot of folks also enjoyed seeing the sheer number of characters, but wished there weren’t quite so many celebrity cameos. So Disney, the message from the fans is clear: Next time, make a longer production with just as many Muppets but fewer famous humans!
And now, the comments from YOU, the readers:
Liked: All the clever puppetry techniques used.
Didn’t Like: The underutilization of Kermit.
Didn’t Like: Vampires
Liked: It was a sincere attempt at making something good and Muppety.
Didn’t Like: Disney cheaping out on the budget and imposing a lot of pointless cameos.
Liked: The homages to the Muppet Show in the dining room scene
Didn’t Like: Wish there was more of Kermit and Piggy’s party. While we see familiar faces at the mansion they weren’t themselves and wanted a little more of themselves being goofy.
Leonardo Milani Santos:
Liked: The mirror scene and how it was actually scary
Didn’t Like: Some of the effects weren’t as good as I expected
Liked: The writing was very similar to The Muppet Show. Jerry Juhl could have written it.
Didn’t Like: I don’t have an answer for this. I think it’s the best thing the Muppets have done in a long time.
Liked: Gonzo’s character development, realizing his fears of being alone, it was so touching
Didn’t Like: Anything with Pépe. I’m sorry, he was the weakest part to me. While his plot line with Constance Hatchaway was interesting, the stuff leading up to it was annoying, to me at least.
Liked: The music was ok.
Didn’t Like: That it was a short movie. It could have been longer.
Liked: I loved the deep dives with older Muppets being used in the Mansion. Almost as if they were ghost Muppets themselves.
Didn’t Like: The story seems really rushed, in terms of pacing, it’s just quick!
Liked: So many ghostly Muppets!
Didn’t Like: Elderly Gonzo and his withered nose. It was effective, but I was not expecting actual body horror in a Halloween special.
Liked: Seeing that many underused Muppets again.
Disliked: The story/writing was OK, but nothing more.
Liked: The return of classic Muppets Tonight era Muppets (Johnny and Sal etc)
Disliked: The weird Beauty and the Beast references in life hereafter
Liked: Gonzo as the main character
Disliked: The length
Liked: Loved the investment in the production quality and promotion (special effects, scenery, casting of cameos, and the nearly countless Muppet characters included). Such a great sign from Disney!
Didn’t Like: What took them so long? I’ve been waiting for a Halloween special since the 1980s! Could more productions be on the horizon? A Muppets/Star Wars crossover seems like a natural to me.
Liked: The background gags at the “real” Muppets’ Halloween party – bunny Behemoth, Santa Cacti, etc.
Didn’t Like: Darren Criss’s song. He’s got a good voice, but the ghosts/busts have nothing interesting to do.
Liked: Easter Eggs in the production design!
Didn’t Like: Dedopdiddlydogbop didn’t have his voice, they gave him actual dog sounds. Missed opportunity.
Liked: I really appreciate how much of the Haunted Mansion ride experience was incorporated in the show.
Didn’t Like: Too short, I wanted to see more.
Liked: I loved the use of Johnny Fiama and Sal and that we had a lot of forgotten characters brought back in this special. The ballroom scene was fantastic.
Didn’t Like: I didn’t really enjoy the beginning, I’d say, 15 minutes of the special. It just felt very slow paced in my opinion.
Liked: Everything to do with Taraji P. Henson
Didn’t Like: The inexplicable CG ghosts at the end (I have to assume they’re from the theme park, which I’ve never been to)
Liked: All the Muppet cameos and appearances from characters we haven’t seen in a while like Johnny Fiama and Phil Van Neuter
Didn’t Like: Celebrity cameos were unnecessary. They were sometimes so quick that you didn’t even see them, and I didn’t recognize most of them.
Liked: The songs were just fantastic.
Didn’t Like: Pepe is still the worst Muppet and shouldn’t be a main character.
Liked: Ghost Muppets putting on a show (Life Hereafter)
Didn’t Like: Pepe & The Bride went on too long
Liked: I LOVED the entire Life Hereafter number. What the Muppets and Kermit need right now is more of that musical energy, and it gave characters like Joe from Legal a chance to show off their singing chops for the first time! (My verdict- What a smooth baritone! Court adjourned!)
Didn’t Like: The running time made it feel a little awkward. I do wish it was a little longer and focused more on Gonzo’s arc early on, or more lighthearted and a little shorter.
Liked: In the last few years, nearly every great Muppet musical performance outside of the recent theatrical films has been by the Electric Mayhem, and “Dancing in the Moonlight” is no exception. The performers absolutely nailed it, and it was nice seeing all the celebs enjoying themselves and getting funky with the Muppets during the credits.
Didn’t Like: I feel like they either needed to make this longer or trim some fat at the beginning. It’s almost half-way done before things really start cooking and the emotional beats don’t quite hit when they should.
Liked: It was fun!! I just felt very happy watching it!
Didn’t Like: The whole bit about Gonzo facing his fear felt very forced? It just felt like it came out of nowhere….. not to mention that old Gonzo was absolutely terrifying.
Liked: I liked the focus being shifted to other Muppets like Gonzo and Pepe. It’s so fun to showcase the other characters because so many other Muppets can carry a show beside Kermit if they’re given the chance. Imagine more shows with Fozzie, Rowlf or the Band at the helm?
Didn’t Like: I didn’t like how short it was. It felt like the special was missing some stuff (especially knowing that there were scenes removed in pre-production) so I wish the special could have been a full feature-length movie.
Liked: Walter’s cameo!
Didn’t Like: Gonzo’s limited movement was odd in the first scene.
Liked: It was very nice to have an emotionally good story revolving around Gonzo.
Didn’t Like: Not enough Bunsen and Beaker; budget cuts be damned!
Liked: The costumes on both Muppets and humans were absolute perfection. Kudos to the wardrobe team.
Didn’t Like: Sorry, you’re getting three things… One, I have and always will believe the magic died with Jim no matter what they do from here on out. It will never fully be recaptured. Two, the story itself was so shallow and uninteresting. Yeah, it was only an hour and some change but I feel like there wasn’t any real plot. And finally, and most importantly, I hate Disney with the searing passion of a thousand Hells. I felt above all it was merely a huge advertisement for the theme park exhibit instead of a celebration of characters. Corporate profit over the rainbow connection will never fly.
Liked: All the character callbacks and Brian Henson being part of it.
Didn’t Like: No Clifford
Liked: So many, but I’ll single out that Matt Vogel was great as Kermit! Also, if Danny Trejo becomes the new Whoopi Goldberg in terms of repeated cameos I’m good with that
Didn’t Like: Wish there was more Piggy!
Liked: This is one of the few Muppet things in the past decade that I think has really gotten the tone of the Muppets right for the most part. The special exists to be fun and silly first and foremost.
Didn’t Like: I’m sorry but Pepe isn’t a sympathetic character. He doesn’t really care about anyone else and so while he can be fun as a side character, it’s really hard for me to care about him as a leading character.
Liked: Very well written and acted plot, especially by Will Forte, Bill Baretta, and Dave Goelz. [Editor’s note: Will Forte does not appear in the special. Perhaps Marian was thinking of Will Arnett?]
Didn’t Like: Some of the celebrity cameos felt a bit forced/shoehorned into the special.
Liked: Loved seeing Kermit as a ghost leading a musical number. It was great to see him leading the mayhem instead of being stressed out by it.
Didn’t Like: Grim Grinning Ghosts should’ve been a full-fledged musical number instead of tacked onto the end of an original song.
Liked: The resurrection of some characters we haven’t seen in years, if not decades. Mulch, Van Neuter, Johnny, Sal, etc.
Didn’t Like: The celebrity cameos go by rather quickly and some are hard to distinguish. I get that the Muppets are the stats, but they made such a huge deal over the cameos on social media. Seeing Ed Asner as a ghost was both fun and chilling, I will say.
Liked: The musical numbers, especially ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’
Didn’t Like: Having the major characters like Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie etc. barely having a role. Especially Piggy.
Liked: The story, this was a perfect combination of Muppets sketch comedy while also telling a story. There were a lot of scenes that made some parts feel disjointed but it was really good! It was the perfect combination of telling both jokes for the sake of telling jokes and an engaging story.
Didn’t Like: This one might be controversial but the character choice. When you think of Muppets, who’s the other character when thinking of Gonzo? Rizzo. Like Kermit and Piggy or Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus, these characters aren’t duos but if you ask the majority of people what you think about when thinking of one or the other, another character associated with said character comes to mind. Does Pepe really make one think of Gonzo? Not that I hate Pepe nor is this saying I really hate the choice of characters, but it’s like having a special starring Ms. Piggy and Rowlf the Dog. It can be done, but you’re constantly gonna be thinking “Where’s Kermit and why Rowlf?”
Liked: Appearances from a wide variety of characters, from the well-known to obscure.
Didn’t Like: The setting. I know, I know, it’s in the name, I’m just one of those rare people these days who doesn’t get into horror/spooky-themed stuff. Something about Muppets talking glibly about the afterlife felt unsettling to me.
Liked: Ensemble work! There weren’t 999, but like 100 Muppets showed up to play.
Didn’t Like: Gonzo says “Cool” too much.
Liked: Sweetums’s appearance was great! So good to see him back and being used a bit more
Didn’t Like: Walter’s underuse 🙁 He could have been used so well for this special as some kind of host and whilst I thought Will Arnett was great, there could have been more for Walter in that role, as a partner possibly
Liked: Recognizing and looking for so many Muppets
Didn’t Like: It ended. I wanted the story to go on, continuing with breakfast and on into the next days.
Liked: The zaniness of the Muppet Halloween party.
Didn’t Like: Gonzo’s puppetry seemed sluggish and off.
Liked: Pepe and Constance’s scenes
Didn’t Like: Still not used to the ‘new’ Kermit
Liked: The return of Johnny and Sal was pretty cool to see!
Didn’t Like: It wasn’t long enough
Liked: I loved the huge variety of characters. Didn’t expect to see Johnny Fiama in 2021.
Didn’t Like: The current Gonzo puppet. They really need to retire that thing.
Liked: I liked that they reprised some of the old Muppets gags, like the ballroom dancing scene, or the Sal and Johnny banter.
Didn’t Like: I really didn’t like that there wasn’t much of a story. It felt like the whole Haunted Mansion/Magician thing was an after thought. Some of the best muppet moments are when they break from the story to wink at the audience but this didn’t have that because the story wasn’t there to break away from.
Stevie Boy Nicholl:
Liked: The cast
Didn’t Like: Not long enough
Liked: All those monsters
Didn’t Like: The bride scene could have been tightened up.
Liked: The nods to muppets like the ballroom joke scene
Didn’t Like: Didn’t know the guest stars
Liked: The ballroom scene and the way it it seamlessly meshed with the “At the Dance” segments and characters from The Muppet Show
Didn’t Like: “They didn’t sing Grim Grinning Ghosts! I have no idea how this movie happened without that song…
Liked: The return of many 90’s era Muppets, especially Johnny and Sal!
Didn’t Like: Gonzo’s puppet build. Nose has been overlarge for a decade or more, but now it’s stiff! Half the time his lower jaw didn’t appear to move!
Liked: The advancement of puppetry filmmaking
Didn’t Like: It was startlingly scary instead of funny. As a fan of the Jim Henson years and Jim Henson Productions years from the 1990s, I’ve noticed the humor is different now than it used to be.
Liked: A lot of joy and memorable moments packed into a concise 49 minutes
Didn’t Like: Scary, old, bone-hands, shriveled nose, Gonzo
Liked: Letting most of the main Muppets just be in the background
Didn’t Like: Too short!
Liked: The wonderful fan service with many long-awaited returns of Muppets.
Didn’t Like: I wish they would have gone further with the concept of annoying ghosts that never stops using more Muppet characters than celebs.
Liked: Miss Piggy and Kermit dressing as each other in the Halloween party
Didn’t Like: The Bride stuff was too long
Liked: Diverse crowd of muppets and cameos
Didn’t Like: Pepe’s B plot needed some work.
Liked: I loved all the Muppets that came back for the big number. Also, I loved the secondary storyline with the Bride and Pepe.
Didn’t Like: Old Gonzo. It fits the bill, but it haunts me in my dreams.
Like: Fozzie as the Hatbox Ghost
Didn’t Like: John Stamos’ cameo. It felt very forced to me.
Liked: All the different characters spotted
Didn’t Like: The celeb cameos
Liked: Dancing in the moonlight
Didn’t Like: Grim Grinning Ghosts
Liked: Old-man Gonzo is totally the highlight for me. New and weird and great – that moment packed an emotional punch – and it was totally original and totally Muppety.
Didn’t Like: I like Pepe. I love Pepe. But I think he’s better in smaller doses. I wish Gonzo had been paired with Scooter or (a recast) Rizzo or Kermit.
Liked: The Musical numbers
Didn’t Like: Needed a few more jokes.
Liked: I liked the reference to the “At The Dance” skit!
Didn’t Like: I did not like the design of older Gonzo during the mirror scene. I was not expecting it whatsoever, so it really scared me!
Cole J. Dakers:
Liked: The return of Johnny & Sal
Didn’t Like: It was too short
Liked: Haunted party scene
Didn’t Like: The digital background screen. It really threw me off and made Gonzo and Pepe look weird, especially in the mouth
Liked: I loved the tie-in to Grim Grinning Ghosts!
Didn’t Like: WHAT WAS WITH GONZOS EYES?! There was no movement of either the eyes or brows….
Liked: The sets?
Didn’t Like: Weak story. No plot, no drama.
Didn’t Like: Bit lightweight.
Liked: Puns, glorious puns!!
Didn’t Like: The overabundance of digital sets.
Liked: I liked that Wayne and Wanda were back!
Didn’t Like: I did not like Fozzie’s teeth – they freaked me out!
Liked: Loved that the dog from the tale of the bunny picnic was in it!
Didn’t Like: That there’s not more of it
Greg M. Janover:
Liked: The references diehard fans love
Didn’t Like: Not one appearance of an original guest star of The Muppet Show, especially Alice Cooper!
Liked: The fact that the Muppets went to The Haunted Mansion and I got to see it
Didn’t Like: THE FACT THAT IT LED TO KIRK THATCHER TWEETING ABOUT BEAN BUNNY BEING TOAST, WHICH IS UNACCEPTABLE
Didn’t Like: Not only this Muppet production, but all productions the past 10 years or more. The arm rods and live-hand sleeves is edited away. I don’t like that. The entire Muppet spirit and feeling is that the rods and the sleeves are visible.
Liked: I love how it was actually fantastic. It’s the best Muppet thing since at least Most Wanted. No complaints about the actual special. It gives me way more hope about the Muppets’ future than I previously had.
Didn’t Like: I kind of hate how Disney’s marketing focused exclusively on the celebrities that showed up an average of 2 seconds each. It’s like they still think people dislike the Muppets and thought that marketing anything else about the special would drive people away.
Liked: The music! I’ve had “Dancing in the Moonlight” playing on repeat since the special came out.
Didn’t Like: The CGI flames on the candles. Was it really too difficult to light the candelabra?
Liked: The attention to detail! All the little background references and Easter eggs were perfect
Didn’t Like: A silly thing, but I would have liked if the hitchhiking ghosts at the end were Muppets as well
Liked: The art design – wall paper, door knobs and door frames, stair case, fence, etc. The attention to detail and all the little gems in there blew my mind. I would like some fabric designed after the wallpapers, please!
Didn’t Like: I prefer it when the human lead performances are not quite so over-the-top. I realize they were playing ghosts but I feel it plays better a little less heavy handed.
Liked: Everything else! It was funny, terrifying, and entertaining at the same time!
Didn’t Like: I thought the party room was somewhere in the Haunted Mansion, but BOY I was wrong.
Liked: The character exploration of Gonzo!
Didn’t Like: Not quite enough Robin the Frog.
Liked: It felt like classic Muppets. Much better than the actual Haunted Mansion movie Disney did in 2003. Proof that they should bring back Muppet movie adaptations like how they did A Christmas Carol.
Didn’t Like: The goat. It was annoying and not funny when they did it in The Grinch, and it was likewise also annoying and not funny here.
Liked: How many Muppets there were
Didn’t Like: How quick it was
Liked: The utilization of old assets without feeling like they were cutting corners! Everything was new and fresh despite being familiar
Didn’t Like: Too much CGI. The muppets thrive in practical effects! I know this is probably a side effect of the pandemic, but still. It would have been so cool to see Hitchhiking Ghost puppets, right?
Liked: The classic vaudeville like Muppets humor and a new cover by the Electric Mayhem!
Didn’t Like: How the human actors drove the plots rather than being along for a Muppet-driven plot
Ty Karac Sargent:
Liked: There were lots of Muppets in the special.
Didn’t Like: There weren’t enough classic Muppets in the special.
Liked: Loved the many retro cameos that popped up throughout, particularly Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker! Very reminiscent of Oscar and Peter Ustinov in The Muppet Movie.
Didn’t Like: I disliked the John Stamos cameo. Not because it was bad, mind you, but because it was a genuine jump scare, of which I am not a fan. Fun, sure! But my heart only just slowed back to its normal rhythm.
Liked: The Doglion door carving.
Didn’t Like: Not enough Uncle Deadly.
Liked: How they used the art of puppetry to create some horrifying and scary scenes, showing that puppets aren’t just for silliness and teaching the alphabet. Wouldn’t surprise me if they got it from The Dark Crystal. No shock value whatsoever.
Didn’t Like: That Dr. Van Neuter didn’t talk, despite Brian Henson returning to voice Sal. After all, his segments were based on horror stories.
Liked: I like that it was heavily based on the ride.
Didn’t Like: Not much I didn’t like, but could have been longer.
Liked: The AMAZING Dancing in the Moonlight video at the end – this kind of number with celebrities are what the Muppets are all about!
Didn’t Like: Gonzo didn’t have a song
Liked: Taraji P. Henson‘s singing voice
Didn’t Like: The virtual backdrops
Liked: Fozzie Bear playing the Hatbox Ghost
Didn’t Like: Rizzo not being a main character with Gonzo & Pepè
Liked: Room 999
Didn’t Like: Hitchhiking ghosts
Liked: The sweetness and silliness of it, why so many of us love the Muppets in the first place! Great guest appearances.
Didn’t Like: I felt like they kind of replayed a bit of the story from Muppets from Space with Gonzo not knowing where he fits and what he wants. That felt a bit recycled. I still enjoyed it and I loved” Gonzo, but it felt like we have already seen a very similar storyline.
Liked: Excellent use of Muppets in place of ride features
Didn’t Like: The cameos should have just been more Muppets
Liked: The special had a wonderful “Muppety” vibe full of silliness and irreverence.
Didn’t Like: Gonzo’s “moment” at the end didn’t feel earned from an emotional standpoint.
Guek De Bont:
Liked: The fact that other Muppets (Gonzo in this case) get the spotlight instead of Kermit. Gonzo is in my opinion the best casting for the lead role in this special.
Didn’t Like: The fact that more of the famous Muppets make such a small appearance that it wouldn’t matter if they were in the special or not. They could do so many great things with Honeydew and Beaker as an example.
Liked: My favorite part was the callback to the classic Muppet Show skit in the ballroom scene.
Didn’t Like: The Bride was horribly mis-cast.
Liked: I liked almost everything!
Didn’t Like: I didn’t like that Rizzo the Rat barely had a part.
That’ll do it for Part 1! Keep an eye on this haunted website for Part 2!
Click here to celebrate the return of Johnny and Sal on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com