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Destroy All Podcasts DX Episode 312 - Muppet Babies: Back to the Nursery

Hosts: Betty, Cade, Dylan, Jeremy

This is about '80s-'50s, Nanny's posterior, and cuckolded frogs.

Click [HERE] to use and abuse stock footage.

More after the cut.

DAPDX-312.mp370.91 MB
Posted 30 December, 2013 - 05:25 by Destroy All Pod...


2 comments posted
I miss the 80's-50's too.

Lord knows because of films like "Back to the Future", it gave those like me a sense that the 1950's were like that (at least to my mom who was a girl/teen during those days). Life is not all chrome, neon, tail fins and poodle skirts. Yet at least they made it seem a bit more optimistic than the usual Cold War paranoia we would see in the 90's and beyond reflecting on the 50's (Brad Bird's"The Iron Giant" is one example).

I suppose we all sorta wonder why the Muppets were there in Nanny's home at all. I wasn't too sure myself what got them there and all that, since we do see episodes where they even sleep overnight in their cribs. I guess I sorta assume it was an orphanage at some point because we never hear much about their 'parents' or guardians other than Nanny they would speak of.

Thinking of Nanny's carhop days kinda reminded me of a joke on early Simpsons episode had of Marge having to take up her old job while Homer was fired from the nuclear plant, if only for a quick joke, though they do go back to it a few seasons later just so she could tell Homer of her morning sickness leading to their eventual marriage.'s_Burgers

The whole bit about not showing the human characters like Nanny from the waist up (or the "floating voice" as described) is a pretty typical trope I noticed when it comes to certain cartoons involving small children or animals that are seen from their perspective than from the world as a whole. You can see this pop up as early as this one Ub Iwerks' "ComiColor" cartoon, Tom Thumb.

David Feiss' "Cow & Chicken" takes the trope to extreme levels with it's Mom & Dad characters being purposely drawn without anything above the waist, they're simply a pair of legs.

The use of stock footage such as the appearance of Ghostbusters and Star Wars in the opening title of Muppet Babies alone guarantees we'll never get a DVD release of this at all. This is of course due to the royalties or other such pay-offs in order to clear the right to use footage like that again. It's never an easy endeavor and that's why some shows on DVD are ruined by there never being any future non-broadcast media rights ironed out such as the music originally used in WKRP in Cincinnati.

The stock footage does range from silent movies to sports to movies and so-on. I recall one episode that used a shot from "Aliens" just so they could have Animal wake out of a cryogenic pod on a ship. Another episode had Kermit making a wish that they would continue to live together as grown-ups, leading to a clip from "The Great Muppet Caper" as the guys plot to get Piggy out of prison or wherever she was kept in.

One name in the credits that always stuck out for me (aside from Dave Coulier who I remember best from "Out of Control"), was this "Em Gee Film Library", one of several companies they obtain their stock footage from. When I was in college in the late 90's I came across the name again as they had distributed a number of silent films we would watch in film class. At some point in time I got to take a catalog they had leftover they were going to throw out, it was a goldmine of information though I didn't get much out of the company as I think they were winding down at the time. Not sure if they had any prints for sale then but I should've pounced on it.

Janice did show up in at least one episode of Muppet Babies I recall, it mostly had something to do with the 60's and Woodstock the way they stuck her in it.

When it comes to the amount of characters in the show, it is quite limited we don't get others like Dr. Teeth's band as babies here. In the earlier seasons, they sometimes had Bunsen and Beaker show up, but then would go M.I.A. after 1987 and for the last couple seasons they brought in Beans Bunny (from "The Tale of the Bunny Picnic" and "The Jim Henson Hour") as well as Statler and Waldorf (in grown-up form) to show up in some episodes.

The animation quality is pretty bland, though the earlier season looked better than what came after 1987 I noticed. The show was originally farmed out to Toei in Japan for seasons 1 to 3 and a couple episodes of season 4, with Nelson Shin's Akom Productions picking up from then on. Their episodes often were extremely bad with characters speaking out of the wrong mouths, unpainted areas of the backgrounds and other problems they could never do re-takes of in the first place. This episode I'm linking to is one example of the badness.

And because you got me thinking of the 1950's, here's a blog post I just made featuring scans of my mom's yearbook from '58!

Chris@StudioToledo's picture
Posted by Chris@StudioToledo on 30 December, 2013 - 17:53
Hearing you guys talk about

Hearing you guys talk about muppet genitalia being internal kept reminded me of an old MST3K episode where they joked on that being what Gumby's dad from a short where he landed on the roof of a house with the pointy end being where his crotch was. I suppose watching any animated character that is drawn like a mannequin figure always leads to those questions about what biological/sexual functions do they have in a real world perspective, since they really don't. I suppose passing it off as "internal genitalia was one way we could explain away such unseen areas of the body especially on pants-less characters. I simply graduated to the "use-your-imagination/fill-in-the-blanks" mode myself when it comes matters like this (I think underground comics from those like R. Crumb and Dan O'Neill did it best when genitals could appear or disappear when convenient to the story, cartoons often do shorthands like that to further the plot, such as a guy needing to know what time it is so there's a watch on his arm that's never seen before or since). People simply think too hard because it's never convenient.

Chris@StudioToledo's picture
Posted by Chris@StudioToledo on 31 December, 2013 - 19:16
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