To: The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, California
From: Matthew Soberman, still devoted Muppet fan
Re: The Muppets on Disney+… Again!
It’s me again, your faithful open-letter author! Last time, I wrote to you about the extensive back catalog of Muppet television series that you happen to have in your possession which would make for great additions to Disney+, and now, I’d like to turn your attention to a cavalcade of specials and direct-to-video projects that would wow Muppet fans if you released. And in case you forgot, you already own everything on this list, so there’s little in your way to get this streaming and on our devices!
Tales from Muppetland
Disney, it’s no secret that you seem to like fairy tales. Thanks to your grand history of animation (and recent string of live-action/CGI remakes), you’ve made stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin live on in our culture as more than just mere bedtime stories. Jim Henson had an affinity for fairy tales too, and in your library sit three specials that continue in that tradition: Hey Cinderella!, The Frog Prince, and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. These specials show Henson’s unique style of storytelling, and allow a window into a time when the Muppets were still in a period of experimentation. The former two specials haven’t been commercially available in any form in the US for over a quarter century, while Bremen has been stuck in the vault since the early ‘80s. Plus, if you want a more contemporary spin on some folktales (with more familiar Muppets), there’s always Muppet Classic Theater, which would excite fans who haven’t seen it since the days of VHS. Isn’t it time to let them out?
Extras in the Making
If I may pass along another compliment, I also dig that you have extras as part of many of your titles. You may not know this, but you possess a handful of specials that would make excellent bonus features on several Muppet titles. Fans can see the evolution of The Muppet Show, even before the series was created, thanks to The Muppets Valentine Show and The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. These specials allow insight into the development of the show, and people can see how very differently things could’ve gone. (Maybe in an alternate timeline, Nigel would’ve announced the big release on Twitter!)
In addition, Of Muppets and Men shows off just how the show came together week after week. And for The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, there are the specials that tied into their respective films, The Muppets Go Hollywood and The Muppets Go to the Movies. Of course, it will likely take time to secure the rights to all the music that was on these programs (especially since there seems to be some trouble *coughcoughBrookeShieldscough* with certain songs from The Wizard of Oz, of which the last special I mentioned has an entire medley), but as you may have noticed, Muppet fans can be very patient. Put together, these comprise hours worth of some very special features.
I’d like to close this very wishful wish list with five favorites that have become beloved by Muppet fans over the years. The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show is a loving send-up of the variety sketch format that the Muppets had become an indelible part of. To get a little taste of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and more in a project that you actually own, break out The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years. (Think of it as having Spider-Man in the Avengers films.) Or salute the man who started it all with The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, an emotional tribute to the Muppets’ creator. And if you want to make an early holiday miracle, give us A Muppet Family Christmas. With its family reunion atmosphere and classic holiday tunes, this would be a burst of nostalgia that would bolster your yuletide lineup.
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
Okay, I’ll be honest: this isn’t exactly what I’d call a high priority, unless you want to show Marvel fans what Robert Downey, Jr. was doing before he suited up as Iron Man. It’s not terribly well-regarded amongst many Muppet fans, but I do have a personal reason for this request. You see, last Christmas, I watched this special, and discovered that it was secretly a comedy goldmine. I was laughing like a Disney villain who has the hero trapped right where they want them. I think it somehow warped me. And frankly, I want the world to see this again, so that I can unleash this madness on the world! Then we’ll see who’s laughing! (Hopefully everyone, so I don’t feel so alone.)
The Muppets at Walt Disney World
And finally, I’ll close with the biggest no-brainer that deserves to be on Disney+: The Muppets at Walt Disney World. Not only does it appeal to Muppet fans, but also parks fans, who’ll enjoy a time capsule of The Most Magical Place on Earth as it existed in 1990. (Younger viewers may be astonished to see how different EPCOT looked back then.) It’s got great music, Charles Grodin, nine years after The Great Muppet Caper, returns to antagonize the gang once again, and Raven-Symoné makes an appearance. That’s one heck of a special right there. Furthermore, it’s the last Muppet project released in Jim Henson’s lifetime, making it a sentimental favorite for fans of a certain age. It would be a great way to pay tribute to a great man. It’s sure to be a major crowd-pleaser for a wide audience.
As I’ve shown in this series of requests (and that’s not even all of it), there’s a whole world of Muppet content in your back catalog just waiting to be shared once more with the masses. Releasing The Muppet Show is a big win for everyone, and if you keep this up, the Muppets can entertain and flourish for fans young and old… and even better, make new ones, too.
Click here to wonder if Mickey Mouse will ever read this on the ToughPigs forum!
by Matthew Soberman