The Muppets' greatest hits

November 11, 2009
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There's lots of buzz around the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street." And as a member of the first generation of viewers of that groundbreaking show, I feel compelled to chime in.

Here, then, is a very subjective collection of 12 moments where the Muppets proved themselves as wonderfully fun, moving, and/or original as anything ever created by mankind. (Adapted from a chapter in "Kid Culture" (Cider Mill Press), which I co-wrote with my former Indy Men's Magazine collaborator Todd Tobias.

Feel free to chime in with moments you think I've missed.

1. Kermit the Frog singing "It's Not Easy Being Green." ("Sesame Street")

2. Ernie singing "Dancing Myself to Sleep" and driving his roommate Bert crazy in the process. ("Sesame Street")

3. Johnny Cash singing "Dirty Ol' Egg Suckin' Dog" with an offended Rowlf the Dog on piano. ("The Muppet Show")

4. Kermit on the bicycle. ("The Muppet Movie")

5. Ernie and Shawn Colvin singing "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon." ("Elmopalooza")

6. Bert presiding over the meeting of the National Association of W Lovers. ("Sesame Street")

7. The "Don't Forget to Watch the Movie" pre-movie short. (Lowe's Theaters)

8. The alien creatures doing the nonsensical "manamana song." ("The Muppet Show")

9. Beaker singing "Feelings"--although the laugh track is annoying. ("The Muppet Show")

10. Every page of "Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum."

11. Ernie jamming to "Put Down the Duckie." ("Sesame Street")

12. The moment when Statler and Waldorf join in with John Denver and the Muppets on "Home on the Range." ("The Muppet Show)

Care to add your own favorites?

  • Sesame Street Fever
    To this day I will still randomly break into the "Captain Vegetable" song from Sesame Street at the top of my lungs, alarming my cats and my fiancee . . . And of course, "yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uuuuuhh huh uuuuhh huh."

    Then there's the whole original Muppet Show episode in which Alice Cooper guest starred, trying to get Kermit to sign a contract with the Devil -- no way you could get away with that on "family" television these days. Especially now that the Muppets have been bought by Disney. (Sigh.)
  • Snuffy Lives!
    Great list, Lou.

    Here's my moment: For a long time, viewers never knew if Mr. Snuffleupagus was real, or just Big Bird's imaginary friend. Big Bird was the only one who ever saw him--no adults ever did. This storyline absolutely enthralled me, since I had two imaginary friends of my own (Lakamasina and Papaty). Finally, after years of "is he or isn't he?" Snuffy was revealed in an episode in fall of '85. I still remember Big Bird's "I told you so." I was seven, I was relieved, and I stopped watching Sesame Street soon after.
  • The Funniest Thing Fozzie Bear Ever Said
    Yeah, it's not exactly Sesame Street, but since you went "Muppet Movie," I have to go there. My two all-time favorite muppets were Fozzie Bear and Ralph the piano-playing dog. Fozzie tried so hard to be funny (as did myself as a Beaker-looking kid), that I love the one-liner presented so casual and off-hand.

    Kermit: [navigating in the Studebaker] Bear left.
    Fozzie: Right, frog.
  • Slimy to the Moon
    "Sesame Street" had a series of episodes in the '90s involving a plucky earthworm named Slimy. At one point, he joined an international team of worm astronauts on a daunting space mission, and Tony Bennett appeared in person to sing "Slimy to the Moon" (to the tune of "Fly Me to the Moon"). It was not only hilarious, but wistful and touching in a surprising way. He was a special worm. And I think it won an Emmy.
  • The Beetles
    Sesame Street had a muppet band called the "Beetles" and they sang a song Letter 'B' to the tune of Let It Be by the Beatles. As a young child my dad (a huge Beatles fan) was surprised to hear me singing along to Let It Be on the radio. He said, how do you know this song? I said, from Sesame Street. He said, Sesame Street??? I said, yeah, you know, Lett-er Beee, Lett-er Beee. A hilarious moment for him and a story he tells over and over at family gatherings each year.
  • yay muppets!
    From the Great Muppet Caper:
    (at a very fancy restaurant)
    Fozzy: If you put enough sugar in this champagne, it tastes just like ginger ale!

    The saddest song EVER is "Saying Goodbye" from Muppets Take Manhattan. I watched it right after graduating from college and cried a lot.

    Sesame Street classic:
    Rubber ducky, you're the one!

  • The Swedish Chef
    Der Chicken in Der Basket!
  • Twiddlebug Connection
    I love the Twiddlebugs. In fact I might just have to go watch them on Youtube.....never mind that I'm older than Sesame Street.

    Also no list is complete without mentioning The Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie.
  • Muppet favs from the gournd floor.
    Well, I was a viewer from the start and have started again recently with my daughter (2.5 yr old).

    1) Most recently "Law and Order: Special Letters Unit"

    2)Ernie's original "Rubber Duckie".

    3)Big Bird's Song "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" (He thought it was a word and pronounced it so.)

    4)"These Are The People In My Neighborhood" with Bob.

    5)and of course with you Lou... "It's Not Easy Being Green"
    • C is for Cookie
      No one is listing "C is for Cookie" . It gets stuck in your brain but it just makes you think of all the great cookies you have ever had and will in the future.
    • Great list
      Good stuff, readers. Keep 'em coming. I remember "Letter B." Have to look up "Slimy to the Moon."
      The Rainbow connection sung by Kermit the frog, is my all time favorite! "Why are there so many...songs about rainbows? And what's on the other side?" :)
    • Swine
      Barishnikov dancing "Swine" Lake, Michael Jeter's "Mr. Noodle", the pirate introductions in "Treasure Island"
    • 3 songs
      C is for cookie

      Rubber Ducky

      Sunny Days (theme Song to Sesame Street)
      I grew up watching the show and still think it holds up today, 20 years later. It was even mentioned on Scrubs in Season 8 (My ABC's episode).
    • YES!
      Ab-kuh-def-gee-jekyll-min-op-er-stew-its-iz.....I always loved that one!
    • Would You Like to Buy an O?
      Maybe it's just because I am from New York, but this song on Sesame Street always tickled me when I was watching with my kids!
    • go gonzo and grover!
      I always how they did "high class" stuff for kids like the opera diva doing " C is for Cookie" - all those muppets dressed as Egyptians. OR how about " Monsterpiece Theatre"? There's the late comer " Pepe "' who is " not a shrimp but a King PRawn!" But Gonzo and Grover, the underdog heroes- forever optimistic. Grover as a waiter and never getting it right. GOnzo in love with a chicken . Saddest moment? Gonzo singing" Someday I'l go back there " in MUppets in Space.
    • Sesame Street
      I don't think you've missed anything, but when I was 6 years old, the old 45rpm records that came with a book that shared the lyrics to the song on the record were some of my greatest pleasures. Rubber Ducky, The Alphabet Song (when Big Bird mistakenly thought the entire alphabet was an actual word), The People in Your Neighborhood! As far as the show goes, I'm OLD school. I loved watching that pinball flip from light to light and bumper to bumper while it counted to 12!
    • Follow That Bird
      Thereâ??s a hilarious homage to the â??North by Northwestâ?? crop-dusting scene in â??Follow That Bird.â?? Bert & Ernie are flying a bi-plane, looking for Big Bird, who has taken a sabbatical from Sesame Street. Ernie, piloting the plane in a very Ernie-like manner, sees him in a field and accidentally buzzes him. The shot is set up like Hitchcockâ??s, with Big Bird seeing the plane over his shoulder and then starting to run toward the camera, etc.
    • Lou you missed one
      I can't remember which Muppets movie it was but Kermit and Piggy go on a date with somebody driving a bus and "the band" playing on the bus. The song you missed was Animal doing "Love Song!!!!!" The coolest tune ever!
    • Robin Hood
      The Muppet Show was the best. I love the moment when Gonzo (as the Sheriff of Nottingham) surprises Miss Piggy (stealing role of Maid Marion from Lynn Redgrave). Kissee! Kissee!!!

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