|Also known as||Jim Henson's Muppet Babies|
|Created by||Jim Henson|
|Based on||The Muppets|
by Jim Henson
|Developed by||Jeffrey Scott|
|Theme music composer||Hank Saroyan|
|Opening theme||"Muppet Babies"|
|Ending theme||"Muppet Babies" (Instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||107 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production companies||Marvel Productions|
|Original release||September 15, 1984 –|
November 2, 1991
|Preceded by||The Muppet Show (1976–81)|
|Followed by||Little Muppet Monsters (1985)|
|Related shows||Muppet Babies (2018)|
Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, commonly known by the shortened title Muppet Babies, is an American animated television series that aired from September 15, 1984, to November 2, 1991, on CBS. The show portrays childhood versions of the Muppets living together in a nursery under the care of a human woman identified only as Nanny (the whereabouts of their parents are never addressed), who appears in almost every episode, but her face is never visible; only the babies' view of her pink skirt, purple sweater, and distinctive green and white striped socks is shown. The idea of presenting the Muppets as children first appeared in a dream sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), released two months before Muppet Babies debuted, in which Miss Piggy imagined what it would be like if she and Kermit the Frog had grown up together.
Muppet Babies was produced by Henson Associates and Marvel Productions. The rights are now held by The Walt Disney Company which separately acquired both the Muppets characters and Marvel. Although the episodes were 30 minutes (including commercials), it was typically shown in 60 and even 90-minute blocks during the peak of its popularity. Outside the United States, the show was distributed by Walt Disney Television. A reboot of the series premiered on Disney Junior on March 23, 2018.
The Muppet Babies live in a large nursery watched over by Nanny, who is seen only from the shoulders down. The babies' imaginary games transition from the nursery into scenes that become "real" to the babies, such as finding themselves aboard a pirate ship or in the land of Oz. Often these fantasies are filled with stock footage scenes or live-action clips from popular movies such as Star Wars, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones. Each episode contains a related musical number. When the pretend game becomes too perilous, or when an interruption occurs (often in the form of Nanny checking in or the imaginary game straying too far from its original premise), the scene dissolves and they find themselves in the nursery once more.
The central idea of each episode is the power of imagination. Sometimes, the babies use their imagination to solve a problem (when Nanny's newspaper is accidentally ruined, the babies write their own newspaper to replace it), but occasionally their imaginations run away with them (overhearing Nanny's phone call to the garbage collector to help her decide which armchair to donate to charity leads the babies to fear that one of them [which was thought to be Fozzie] is going to be thrown away). Other frequent themes involve the babies coming up with new ways to play with old toys, imagining what life will be like when they are adults, or facing common childhood firsts such as a visit to the dentist or a new addition to the family. Nanny is the voice of reason, congratulating them on their creativity or soothing their fears.
Main article: List of Muppet Babies (1984 TV series) episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 15, 1984||December 8, 1984|
|2||13||September 14, 1985||December 7, 1985|
|3||16||September 13, 1986||December 27, 1986|
|4||18||September 19, 1987||January 16, 1988|
|5||13||September 10, 1988||December 3, 1988|
|6||18||September 16, 1989||January 13, 1990|
|7||8||September 15, 1990||November 3, 1990|
|8||8||September 14, 1991||November 2, 1991|
The series stars Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Scooter, Skeeter, Rowlf the Dog, and Gonzo as the main muppets. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker made regular appearances as did Camilla in the form of Gonzo's stuffed baby chick. In the final two seasons, Bean Bunny and Statler and Waldorf began making regular appearances.
Several Muppets made guest appearances including Janice as an older preteen, and Kermit's nephew, Robin, a young frog.
Scooter's twin sister, Skeeter, was unique to the Muppet Babies animated series, having no live-action puppet incarnation, although she did appear in a few comics in the early 2010s. The reason Skeeter never appeared as an adult Muppet served as the basis of a sketch on the adult comedy Robot Chicken, 20 years after the series finale.
In 1984, The Muppets Take Manhattan, the third full-length Muppet film, debuted. The film included a fantasy sequence in which Miss Piggy imagined what growing up with Kermit would have been like. While Piggy sang, baby versions of Rowlf, Fozzie, Scooter and Gonzo acted as backup singers. The live-action sequence was so popular that The Jim Henson Company turned the idea into a half-hour cartoon program. In order for 107 episodes to be produced, Henson and Marvel hired two companies: the Japanese-based Toei Animation for seasons 1–3 and five episodes of season 4, and the Korean-based AKOM Productions for episode six of season 4 through season 7, both of which also animated G.I. Joe and The Transformers for Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions.
Muppet Babies proved highly popular and ran on CBS from 1984 to 1991, a total of seven seasons. At the height of its popularity it ran in two- or three-episode blocks. Even after the conclusion of the series, it had remained so popular that CBS continued to air reruns of the series until the fall of 1992.
For a brief run in the second season, the program became Muppets, Babies, and Monsters, and a second half-hour was dedicated to a new show called Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters. This show featured live-action puppets and cartoons starring the adult Muppet characters. The program lasted three weeks before Jim Henson pulled the plug, despite 18 episodes having been made. The show then reverted to an hour of Muppet Babies, but a portion of the Little Muppet Monsters theme could still be heard in the show's end credits for the remainder of its run. Muppet Babies later expanded to 90 minutes after CBS pulled Garbage Pail Kids before it even aired due to controversy.
It is noted for starting a trend of relaunching popular cartoon characters as younger versions of themselves. This trend can be seen in numerous TV series such as A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Flintstone Kids, Baby Felix, Tiny Toon Adventures (the main characters actually are the "successors" of the Looney Tunes, the latter themselves as their instructors), Tom & Jerry Kids and Jungle Cubs (based on characters from Walt Disney's animated film The Jungle Book) as well as merchandise items such as Baby Snoopy, Baby (Betty) Boop, Disney Babies, Baby Hello Kitty, Care Bear Cubs, Baby Strawberry Shortcake and Baby Garfield. In recent years, Baby Looney Tunes, Sesame Beginnings, Baby Mario from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Little Astro Boy and Total DramaRama continued the concept. The show was a critical success during its time on the air: the show won four consecutive Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program, 1985–88, and won a Humanitas Prize for Children's Animation in 1985.
Muppet Babies was voted "Top Cartoon of the Childhood Days" by the Irvin Hall newspaper's weekly review of the Pennsylvania State University in 2007.
Hank Saroyan served as executive in charge of series, voice director, story editor, song producer, and composer.
Approximately 100 of the songs were co-written by Alan O'Day and Janis Liebhart, with the exception of the theme song and "Rocket to the Stars" which were written by Hank Saroyan and Rob Walsh, and "Dream for Your Inspiration", written by Scott Brownlee. The song that played during the ending credits was laughingly titled "Hank in the Box" in deference to Hank Saroyan.
The series entered local syndication through Claster Television in 1989, and ran until 1992. Syndication rights were sold to Nickelodeon (1992–1999) and Odyssey Network (1999–2001).
Although not every Muppet Babies episode was released on VHS, a number of them were released between 1993 and 1995. One series released on VHS called "Yes I Can" included three videos, which featured two Muppet Babies episodes inside. The series focused on Robin the Frog, who asks his uncle Kermit for assistance in different chores he was struggling with such as cleaning his room or doing homework. Kermit would lead off into a Muppet Babies episode which told of a similar situation. Sometimes, he would give examples about achieving Robin's trouble. For example, in one Yes I Can video, Robin is worried about making new friends, and Kermit tells him that sharing is an example of having a good friendship, which leads directly to a Muppet Babies episode.
There have been no plans announced of any DVD releases of Muppet Babies. One possible reason is that clips from other TV shows and movies (such as Star Trek, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The $25,000 Pyramid, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Batteries Not Included) were used extensively in imagination sequences, closet opening scenes, and scenes on the television in the nursery and thus could pose difficulties in terms of resolving possible copyright issues. In 2003, four episodes were made available, in uncut form, as bonus DVDs with 10-inch Muppet Babies plush toys: "The Daily Muppet", "Eight Take Away One Equals Panic", "Piggy's Hyper-Activity Book", and "Gonzo's Video Show".
There are 18 VHS releases in all
U.S. 1st Releases (4):
U.S. 2nd releases 'Yes I Can' Release (3):
McDonald's Releases (4):
Kids Klassics Releases (1)
KRAFT Foods Mail-in Releases (1)
Video Buddy Interactive Releases (3)
UK Releases (2) (works on any VCR):
Episode 109: Close Encounters of the Frog Kind Episode 102: Dental Hyjinks
Episode 110: Gonzo's Video Show Episode 101: Noisy Neighbors
Australia Releases (2) (works on any VCR):
Episode 207: I Want My Muppet TV! Episode 206: Snow White and the Seven Muppets Episode 201: Once Upon an Egg Timer
Episode 104: Raiders of the Lost Muppet Episode 102: Dental Hyjinks
Total 25 VHS Release Episodes in order:
In January 2009, IGN named Jim Henson's Muppet Babies as the 31st-best in the Top 100 Best Animated TV Shows.
Main article: Muppet Babies (2018 TV series)
A reboot of the series premiered on Disney Junior on March 23, 2018. As opposed to the traditional animation of the original show the reboot instead uses CGI, but is still targeted to children ages 4–7 with each episode consisting of two 11-minute stories. Disney Junior, Disney Consumier Products and Interactive Media's Content & Media group, and TVNZ are co-producing the show. Mr. Warburton, creator of Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door, serves as the executive producer while former SpongeBob SquarePants writer Eric Shaw serves as the story editor.
Baby Kermit, Piggy and Gonzo made small appearances in the drug prevention television special (later released on home video) Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (1990).
The live-action version of the lead characters also appeared, in the form of an old home movie, during the 1987 television special A Muppet Family Christmas. The segment itself was cut from later releases because of complications with musical rights for "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".
An adult Skeeter was featured in the "Family Reunions" issues of The Muppet Show comics.
In the mid-1980s, PVC Muppet Babies toys were available as prizes in McDonald's Happy Meals. Each non-articulated character came with a wheeled vehicle. Some time later, special Christmas stuffed versions of the Muppet Babies were available in Happy Meals, too.
In 1992, after the last aired Muppet Babies episode in 1991, an episode book collection of Muppet Babies was produced from the book company Grolier. It was called The Muppet Babies Press Books. The book mostly discussed character traits and learning for young children. It was produced and ended in 1992.
There were two Muppet Babies LP records produced and released on Parker Brothers/Columbia Records. Both albums were produced by Hank Saroyan and Rob Walsh and featured extended versions of songs from certain Muppet Babies episodes. The first album, "Rocket to the Stars", was also a fully produced stereo story-adventure starring the Muppet Babies characters in which the songs were woven into the all-new story written by Saroyan. The second album was strictly more fully produced longer versions of songs from the show. BMG released a CD version of the first album when it bought Henson. The CD was renamed "Rock It to the Stars", likely due to Parker Brothers/Columbia Records owning the name "Rocket to the Stars". The songs on this album are: "Muppet Babies Theme", "Merry-G0-Round", "Sleep Rockin'", "Dream for Your Inspiration", "Good Things Happen in the Dark", "Camilla", "Rocket to the Stars", "Practice Makes Perfect", "Be What You Wanna Be", "I Can't Help Being a Star", "Closing Theme".
For the second, music-only Muppet Babies LP, "Music Is Everywhere", the songs were: (side one) "Music Is Everywhere", "Table for One", "Wocka Wocka Wocka", "Snow White Blues", "Wishes Have a Way, "Best Friends", "Runnin' Out of Time"; (side two) "We Love Cartoons", "Show Us the Real You", "Amadogus", "Semi-Weirdo", "Art Is for Your Heart", "Playin' in the City", "TV Maniacs".
From 1985 until 1989, Marvel Comics produced a monthly comic book of the Muppet Babies with their Star Comics imprint, drawn by Marie Severin. The series lasted for twenty-six issues. The back-up stories on the last two issues, #25 (May 1989) and #26 (July 1989), were drawn by Nate Butler. In 1992, Harvey Comics acquired the rights to produce Muppet Babies comics and produced a further 3 issues (restarting at issue #1).
The Muppet Babies also appeared in Star Comics Digest (also known as Star Comics Magazine). This comic was printed in digest-size format, and features a number of reprinted short stories in each issue. The series itself lasted for thirteen issues from 1986 until 1988. The Muppet Babies appeared in some, but not all, of the issues. Other short stories contained in Star Comics Digest included Madballs, Heathcliff, the Care Bears, and Top Dog.