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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Muppets And Pee-Wee Herman: The Great Big Christmas Caper Adventure

I can probably recite the movie "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and I obviously like the Muppets, so I was thrilled to see Kermit and Pee-Wee on the Winter 1987 cover of Muppet Magazine.

Kermit visits and interviews Pee-Wee at his Playhouse.

It looks like Kermit told his experiences to a writer named Fred Newman.

I wonder if this is the same Fred Newman from The Disney Channel's late 1980s/early 1990s version of The Mickey Mouse Club?

My guess is yes.

Muppet Magazine often featured a fold-out parody poster. In Fall 1987, it was Ker-Mee Herman and some biker pigs in "Kermie's Pig Adventure."

This is genius.

Ask Dr. Honeydew was a hysterical column in Muppet Magazine.

Gotta love the "fun" fruit cake suggestions.

Back in the 1980s, stickers were so popular, they actually made magazines about them. This Pee-Wee's Playhouse story is from a magazine called "Stickers & Stuff." I kid you not.

This article is pretty informative.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse debuted on CBS in 1986.

The show was kind of a spin-off of the 1985 Tim Burton-directed film, "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure."

Pee-Wee's Playhouse featured live actors, puppets and animation.

One of my favorite segments was "Penny," a cartoon about a clay girl with pennies for eyes.

Penny animator Craig Bartlett also created Nickelodeon's animated series "Hey Arnold!"

In 1988, Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special debuted. Penny got her own Christmas mini-episode.

All the Playhouse characters were celebrating the holidays, even the food in the fridge!

These stop-motion animated sequences are incredibly charming and fun, and so full of character and imagination.

The freezer upstairs is "ice-fishing" for party refreshments from downstairs.

The characters here among the frozen fried chicken are red and green popsicles! Note that the green popsicle is one of those "break and share" popsicles with two sticks.

Pee-Wee forces Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello to make his Christmas Cards, and offers to give them bread and water when they are finished.

From the Christmas Special DVD commentary, we know that Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee) and Frankie and Annette became friends working on the 1987 film, "Back to the Beach."

The Christmas Special includes many guest stars, including Dinah Shore, Oprah Winfrey, Charo and Cher.

Cher tells everyone the Secret Word and leaves to work on her perfume line, presumably.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse was on the CBS Saturday Morning schedule with Jim Henson's Muppet Babies.

In 1990, you could also find Garfield and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on CBS. You could also watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: the cartoon. Yes, that existed.

In the Winter 1987 Muppet Magazine, the Muppet Babies starred in a hilarious version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

This clever take on the Christmas classic was illustrated by Bruce McNally and written by Louise Gikow.

The Muppet Babies animated series, created by Jim Henson and Marvel, debuted on CBS in the Fall of 1984.

A new character named Skeeter (Scooter's twin sister) was created for the show to give the series a female character to balance out the often outlandish Miss Piggy. I guess maybe they forgot about the rather mellow Janice when they were developing the TV series.

Skeeter and Animal were originally voiced by Howie Mandel.

Kermit was voiced by legendary voice-over actor Frank Welker. Gonzo was voiced by Russi Taylor (the voice of Minnie Mouse and Huey, Dewey and Louie on Disney's DuckTales).

Muppet Babies won many awards, and it is a shame that it is not aired regularly on television.

One of the big problems may be that Muppet Babies frequently used film clips from popular movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Now it's time for our very special guest star, Steve Martin. Yaaay!!

In the Spring of 1985, Steve Martin appeared in a special Muppet Babies story in Muppet Magazine.

This story was also written by Fred Newman.

Making a rare appearance here is a puppet version of Animal.

Animal did not appear in the Muppet Babies sequence in "The Muppets Take Manhattan."

Also making her puppet debut here is Skeeter.

Steve Martin gives Nanny a break and takes care of the Muppet Babies.

The Muppet Babies cartoon did not really portray the characters as "babies" in this way.

Steve Martin is one wild and crazy guy!

I like the special baby bottles for the different characters. I'm guessing the TNT is for Animal.

Animal was the only member of the Electric Mayhem to be regularly featured in the Muppet Babies cartoon.

Janice eventually made an appearance in an episode of the series (as a toddler). I would have loved to see Baby Floyd.

Younger readers may not know this, but MTV used to show videos all the time. That's why the Electric Mayhem was featured in this special MMTV Christmas poster in the 1987 Muppet Magazine.

It doesn't get much more 1980s than this.

The Muppets were never aimed just at kids, as seen in the 1984 Muppet comic strip (created by Guy and Brad Gilchrist).

What a dirty pig.

The Muppets always had an absurd sense of humor.

Bo, bless your little heart.

Wouldn't Kermit typically fit in at a beach like this?

In "The Muppets Take Manhattan" an amnesia-stricken Kermit is told by a doctor (played by Linda Lavin) that due to his lack of clothing and lack of wallet, they can't identify him, but he is most likely "Mr. Enrico Tortellini of Passaic, New Jersey."

In 1992, Walt Disney Pictures released The Muppet Christmas Carol. Hardee's restaurants had a special Muppet Funmeal Pack tied to the film.

To my knowledge, there were no commercials for this promotion.

I was able to get all of these finger puppets during one visit to a Hardee's in North Carolina.

I'm guessing that on the West Coast, you could find these at Carl's Jr. restaurants.

In 1998, the Muppets could be found at Blockbuster Video.

I don't know why they were dressed up. Was this for that Muppets Tonight TV show?

I found these at a flea market. I'm not sure how they were distributed. Did you get one with a kids movie rental?

Gonzo and Fozzie look like they are ready to do stand-up comedy in the late 1980s.

In 2004, Disney finally bought the Muppets.

Kermit and the gang had been appearing at Walt Disney World since 1990. Now they were officially part of the Disney family.

By 2005, you could find the Muppets on merchandise in the Disney Catalog.

Kermit dressed in a Santa suit really could be Disney's answer to the Grinch. I'd love to see a Kermit's Hoppy Holidays stop-motion animated Muppets special, done in the style of the old Rankin-Bass shows. I can see Macy's selling a Kermit the frog plush that ribbits and croaks Christmas songs.

Hopefully Disney's Muppets film starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams will be a new beginning for Jim Henson's famous characters.

Now it is time for something shocking.

Kermit, don't let your boss see this!


  1. Great memories here! I remember Muppet Mag, esp the one with Steve Martin. I didn't really get the joke about the red convertible in Tijuana, but I had a feeling it was something naughty; now it makes more sense.

  2. Those comic strips are hilarious. So is Kermit dressed as Pee Wee Herman. Very funny post. Can't go wrong with the Muppets.

  3. Hey Tom! When I was in high school, I donated my Muppet Magazines to our local library's used book store. I had second thoughts and quickly got them back. I'm so glad I did that!

    Thanks, A Snow White Sanctum! The comic strips are from a compilation book called "Jim Henson's Muppets: Short, Green And Handsome."

  4. It will be interesting to see how the new Muppet movie does. With Jason Segel writing and starring in it, how could they go wrong? The vampire puppet opera that he wrote for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was comic brilliance.

  5. Whoa. So glad you got them all back! Thanks for scanning those pages too. I probably had every magazine but I can't remember what happened to them.

    The posters inside the mags were neat. I remember one had Kermit as Bruce Springsteen and another had Dr Bunsen Honeydew as John Cougar Mellonhead.

    Another issue had photos of famous celebs next to photos of Muppet doppelgangers...I can't remember them all but I remember George C Scott next to Sam the Eagle and Lew Zeland next to John Astin from the Addams Family.

  6. TokyoMagic!: I think this new movie has a good chance of being a hit because Jason Segel is such a big Muppet fan, and he is a great actor and writer.

    Hey Tom! Glad you liked seeing the Muppet Magazines again! Yes, I still have those Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar parody issues. There's also one of Link Hogthrob as Max Headroom.

    I know I'm missing at least one issue (the one with Punky Brewster's Soleil Moon Frye) because I had a meltdown when I learned my dad threw it away (keep your stuff out of the living room, kids!!).

  7. wow, loved seeing all the pee wee magazine stuff...awesome! both pee wee and the muppets are special to me.