To: The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, California
From: Matthew Soberman, still devoted Muppet fan
Re: The Muppets on Disney+
First off, on behalf of Muppet fans everywhere, I want to thank you for finally putting The Muppet Show on Disney+. For many of us, this is the first time we’ve been able to see all 120 episodes. To be fair, you kind of left us hanging for over a decade for the fourth and fifth seasons, unless we were willing to use more dubious means to track them down (even if it was just to keep a five-year retrospective on the show going). But now, thanks to you, we can experience the entire series in its full form. This will undoubtedly help keep the Muppet magic alive by sharing the project that made them superstars with new generations of viewers.
And speaking of keeping the magic alive, now I’d like to get to the real point of this open letter. The Muppet Show is a big get for Disney+, but it only scratches the surface of the amazing Muppet back catalog. Did you know that, in addition to The Muppet Show, you acquired a number of beloved series and specials as part of your purchase of the Muppets all the way back in 2004? Now, this may be a little greedy given that we’ve already got The Muppet Show, but to be fair, you did promise a Season Four DVD release back in 2009, so we have been starved for archival content. Besides, we’re Muppet fans, and we have to complain about something (besides other people complaining about content advisories), so let’s move on to the other things we haven’t had an official release of in years! Each of these has plenty of people who would love to stream them. And because the back catalog is so big, this can’t be contained in just one open letter. Today, we’re just focusing on the television series (that again, you own) that would delight Muppet fans of all ages.
Muppet Babies (1984-1991)
Before the 2018 reboot brought the Muppet Babies back into the public consciousness, the original series enthralled kids with 107 episodes of music, comedy and adventure. Those 80’s and 90’s kids who watched the series are now old enough to have children of their own, meaning this could be great family viewing. But I do want to warn you there is a snag. Given that the series used many, many, many film and television clips, licensing can be very tough. But hey, we never thought we’d get The Muppet Show due to music licensing, so anything is possible! I know it may not be the most prudent option to start a list with, but it could very well be the most popular… and it ties in with an active series you produce! Corporations love synergy, and Muppet fans love Muppet Babies!
Bear in the Big Blue House
On that same note, you know what else 90’s kids remember fondly? Bear, Treelo, Tutter, Ojo, Pip and Pop, and all their exploits in a large, azure domicile. People certainly seem to be enthusiastic for the Disney Channel shows of their youth, and for many, Bear in the Big Blue House was a big part of it. Why not let them take a trip down memory lane with all the wholesome fun the big blue house had to offer?
Perhaps the most obvious choice after The Muppet Show would be its own 1996-98 follow-up. And at just 22 episodes, there’s far less that needs to be licensed. But it’s so worth it. How else can you show that the Muppets once jammed out with Prince? Or that Piece Brosnan can breathe fire? Or that Jason Alexander once dressed up in a ridiculous bat costume? The memes alone will be worth it.
The Jim Henson Hour
This is a tricky one to work on, because technically you only own half of a series. But unlike, say Doug, we’re not talking about Disney coming into a series halfway and owning the rights to later seasons. You literally own parts of episodes here, with the rest belonging to The Jim Henson Company. For the sake of ownership, I suppose you could release just the MuppeTelevision parts, and that would be delightful. But hey, a wish list is nothing without wishes, and luckily, thanks to a certain extraterrestrial talk show on your streaming service, you happen to have a good working relationship with the other rights holder. Because of how the episodes were divided in the Muppet acquisition, I don’t think any fans have expected to ever see this short-lived series available intact. If you ever wanted to shock Muppet fans, this would be the show to share.
Little Muppet Monsters
Do you know what else would knock Muppet fans’ Loungefly Animal socks off? Releasing episodes of a series that never aired. Little Muppet Monsters only had three of its episodes aired way back in 1985, while eighteen were produced. That’s fifteen episodes of lost Muppet content! Even though the animated segments were never completed, there’s live-action footage that would enthrall fans. And people would finally know where that GIF of Kermit typing really fast comes from! You’d be doing a public service.
Don’t touch that dial, Disney! (Or ToughPigs readers!) Check back soon to see part two of my open letter, including specials and direct-to-video projects!
Click here to look for Donald Duck’s PO box on the ToughPigs forum!
by Matthew Soberman