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Time to get things started, again

I read an interesting article today on the ridiculous youtube sensation that is the Muppets.
Now, comfortably middle aged, the zany puppets who came to prominence in the 1970s with "The Muppet Show" have recaptured their youthful bravado.

And they're doing it by popping up all over the Disney corporate matrix, including appearances on ABC and ESPN programs, top billing on the Walt Disney Company's homepage and, soon, in a network special and feature film written by "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star Jason Segel.

But nothing has brought audiences back into the fold quite like YouTube.

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of the Jim Henson's creatures have become internet sensations with their recent viral video cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody," and their more recently released version of the Christmas carol "Ringing of the Bells." The puppets take on the Queen classic has drawn over 11.5 million viewers.

Versions of "Ode to Joy" and short videos featuring the likes of the Swedish Chef demonstrating pumpkin carving have also attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers to the Muppets' YouTube channel.

The Muppets have been further shaking off their self-imposed seclusion (it's been over 10 years since their last feature film) with a series of strategic cameos on established television shows. Characters are popping up on programs such as "Dancing With the Stars," where Animal banged on the drums as Aaron Carter hoofed it to the theme from "The Muppet Show." Miss Piggy interviewed guests during the series finale.

Graham and I sort of informally watched the hit numbers on the Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody in the first week it was posted. Every day, it seemed, the video got another million viewers.

I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with the way that Disney has gone about relaunching the brand. I suspect that it's no coincidence that they timed the revamp of their youtube channel* shortly after the Sesame Street 40th anniversary. The internet was abuzz with muppet realted nostalgia in September, and I'm certain that the Disney people picked up on that. I've noticed the volunteer commercials on TV, and when I looked for muppet related things on my DVR after the youtube video hit, I was surprised to see the "Letters to Santa" airing for the second year in a row.

I think, though, that the internet is where the muppets really are going to shine, in part because the internet allows for the wacky experimentation that made the original Muppet Show so awesome much better than any other forum. I honestly don't know how the original Muppet Show got past studio execs back in the 70s. The only explanation I can think of was "It was the 70s and it was the Brits." No fucking way an American broadcast network nowadays would greenlight such a weird, wacky and surreal show. We were very lucky CBS agreed to syndication. But on the internet, the guard is let down a little, and there's room for exploration. And stuff like the Bohemian Rhapsody is just pure genius.

I hope they keep doing this good stuff.

*The youtube channel used to be several. Many characters had their own channels, featuring videos staring themselves.


( 2 comments — Say something )
Jan. 6th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
i didn't know disney had bought the muppets; i thought it was still all henson studios.

i still like the new videos, though.
Jan. 6th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
I love the muppets.
( 2 comments — Say something )