The Retro Bin: Video Power (1990-1991)

Today, The Retro Bin spotlights a popular video game themed kids’ show from the 1990’s.

No, not that one. This one featured several different video game characters from different titles.
No, that was 80’s. This show featured several video game characters together as a team of action heroes.
captain-n
Wrong again, but you’re getting warmer. In addition to the aforementioned cartoon segments, this show featured a live-action host and game show elements.
OK, I’ll turn over all the cards. The show in question is Video Power, an American television series that aired in two different formats from 1990-1992 in syndication.
Both formats of Video Power revolved around video games, and actor Stivi Paskoski presided over both series playing video game master Johnny Arcade, of the South Hampton Arcades, no doubt.
Season 1 Intro:
“DUUUUUDE! That was Funky, Funky Fresh!”
 
The first format of Video Power consisted of both live-action segments and cartoon segments from the Acclaim Entertainment-produced series, The Power Team.
The cartoon was an adventure featuring Johnny Arcade and a team of heroes from different NES games and a Game Boy game published by Acclaim: Max Force, a policeman from NARC; Kuros, the knight from Wizards and Warriors; Tyrone, a basketball player from Arch Rivals, because we all know how well pro athletes work as superheroes…
prostars-title
“LAME!”

Kwirk, a tomato from the game of the same name;

“In that opening, Kwirk jumps out of an NES, but the game Kwirk was exclusive to the Game Boy! Johnny Arcade is a big fat lair!!”

…and Bigfoot, a monster truck that had its own video game. Yes, the monster truck was a member of the team.

“What’re you sayin’, buddy? That vehicles aren’t essential to the team dynamic? Well, good luck walking to your next mission, smart guy!”
***************************************************************

The main enemy of each episode was mostly Mr. Big and his thugs, Joe and Spike, from NARC, while Malkil from Wizards and Warriors sometimes appears with the villains of NARC.

“Poseurs! If we suck so much, then why are these guys trying to rip us off?”
*****************************************************************

In the live action segments, Mr. Arcade would review and preview games that were currently out or forthcoming for consoles, as well as giving hints and tips for gamers that were having trouble achieving certain tasks in games. Sometimes he would go to an expo or a convention to show the booths of forthcoming titles. Viewers were also able to write into the show to receive hints.

For the show’s second season which began in the fall of 1991, the producers of Video Power completely overhauled its format and opening.

“DUUUUDE! the first theme was awesome, but that theme was TOTALLY BODACIOUS TO THE MAX!!!”

The Power Team were given the pink slip and the series was turned it into a game show. Johnny was joined by Terry Lee Torok, who served as his co-host and did more actual hosting that Arcade did, and Steve Treccase, the former Remote Control keyboardist who served as the leader of an in-house band that was added to the show as well. The game consisted of kids in the audience putting “Johnny on the spot” by asking him questions, a round of video game playing, a quiz, more game playing and a prize round. The winning player would….

…You know what? Who cares? This show was just 90’s cheese. That’s really all you need to know. Video Power was a very 90’s video game cash-in show. End of story. I’m out.

“HA-HA! In your face, producers!”
“Word??”

The Retro Bin: Fonzie and Friends (1980, 1981)

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about the laws of the universe. Among them:

  • The tide is inevitable.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
  • TV stars are much more fun when they’re turned into cartoons
A good example of the latter would be when ABC was riding high on the success of Gary Marshall’s Happy Days and decided to air a Saturday morning cartoon based on the franchise titled Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.

Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

Fonz and the Happy Days Gang was produced by Hanna Barbera studios and debuted on ABC and ran from 1980 to 1982. Actors Henry Winkler (Fonzie), Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham) and Don Most (Ralph Malph) reprise their roles from Happy Days. The shows’ premise has Fonzie, Richie and Ralph, along with an original character, Fonzie cut-up dog named Mr. Cool (voiced by the legendary Frank Welker) having wacky adventures while traveling through various eras in a time machine owned by a girl from the distant future named Cupcake (voiced by Didi Conn, perhaps best known as Frenchy from Grease) trying each week to return to the gang’s own time, 1957, Milwaukee. All of this is explained in the shows’ intro, which was narrated by Wolfman Jack.

The episodes followed a predictable formula: The gang would travel to a different era and have a run in with the local weirdos (including King Arthur and Merlin in Camelot in one episode. Camelot is a work of fiction and not part of history, but whatever…), Richie and Ralph would panic. Mr. Cool would engage in some comically stupid shtick. Cupcake would use her 25th century magic, which more often hindered than helped the situation (more on this later), and Fonz would use his powers of cool to save the day and romance whatever young woman would be on the scene at the time. In fact, Fonzie’s coolness was downright super natural in this series. He could fix anything just by hitting or kicking it,  everything that is, except for the time machine, which would routinely send the gang to the wrong destination in every episode. Just like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, Fonzie could seemingly do anything, except take himself and his friends home.

Now time to indulge in a bit of Talkin’ Nerdy: It was hard to know exactly what to make of the character of Cupcake. All we knew about her was that she apparently owned the time machine (how she came into possession of the device is anyone’s guess) and that she was from the distant future. Yet she had these magical powers. Was Cupcake a witch? Was she an alien? Do all humans evolve to have magical powers in the future, or was Cupcake in some way unique? Not a single one of these points was ever addressed on the show. Perhaps Cupcake’s magic was the result of scientists genetically modifying tomatoes too much. Who knows?

Fonz and the Happy Days Gang apparently did pretty well in it’s initial season, since it was renewed for a 2nd season. During this time, ABC and Hanna-Barbera produced another animated series based on one of Happy Days‘ spinoff series, Laverne and Shirley. The series was titled Laverne & Shirley In the Army (although the “In the Army” part never appeared on the shows’ title cards) and it debuted on ABC in 1981.

Be all that you can be, and many viewers chose to be somewhere else when this cartoon was on!

Here’s the shows’ intro

The series was loosely based on one episode of the live action L&S titled ‘You’re In the Army Now”, in which L&S join the army and are ordered around by a tough drill sergeant named Lavinia T. Plout (played by Vicky Lawrence).  H-B execs must’ve said “We love it! But let’s replace Vicky Lawrence with a pig!”
Yes, that’s right. The shows’ premise had L&S having wacky adventures in the army while constantly being at odds with their commanding officer, a talking pig named Squealy (voiced by Ron Palillo, who’ll be forever known as Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter), who was constantly threatening to report L&S to his commanding officer Sgt. Turnbuckle, who was mentioned more often than seen. Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Cindy Williams (Shirley) reprise their roles for the cartoon.

lenny-and-squiggy

“Where’s our cartoon? We was on dat sitcom since day one! An’ then we get passed over for a talkin’ pig?!? What the what,man?!”

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding Laverne & Shirley in The Army (it was posed at least thrice on YouTube) was “Why was L&S’ commanding officer a pig?” I’m guessing that this was still during that time when network executives thought that the presence of an animal character instantly made a cartoon seem more appealing to kids. Apparently, Hanna-Barbera really liked the idea of a cartoon about wacky WACs because over on CBS, The All New Popeye Hour was renamed to The Popeye and Olive Show (which ran for only a half hour) and featured a regular segment titled “Private Olive Oyl” which had Olive and Alice the Goon serving in the army for who knows what reason and driving their commanding officer, one Sgt. Bertha Blast (voiced by Laugh-In‘s Jo Ann Worely) bonkers on a daily basis. Both ideas were inspired by the 1980 movie Private Benjamin starring Goldie Hawn.

Private Olive Oyl

Private Olive Oyl. Yes, this was a thing that actually happened. Someone thought of this. Someone greenlit it, and someone put it on the air.

Anyway, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang ran for 2 seasons. L&S’ 1st season was Fonz’s 2nd season. The following year, an additional 8 episodes of L&S in the Army aired as part of another series which sported one of the longest titles for a Saturday morning cartoon ever: The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour. In these episodes, L&S were joined by Fonzie and Mr. Cool, who were now working in the auto maintenance department of L&S base. There was no final episode of Fonz and the Happy Days Gang where the gang was returned to their own time, but we can assume by this series that Fonzie and Mr. Cool eventually made it home, although the whereabouts of Richie, Ralph and Cupcake were unknown. Either they, like Fonzie, successfully made it back to 1957 Milwaukee or the 3 of them shacked up together in a harem in ancient Baghdad. The mind boggles. Meanwhile, on the live action sitcom Happy Days, Ron Howard and Don Most had left the show. Ron Howard would go on to become a famous movie director, while Don Most would go on to voice Eric the Cavalier on CBS’ Dungeon & Dragons. Ironically, the in universe explanation of why Richie and Ralph were no longer on Happy Days was the 2 of them had joined the army (although both actors returned for Happy Days‘ series finale).  Having Squealy and Mr. Cool together in the same cartoon must’ve blown the needle off of the Annoying Meter, and having a talking animal appearing with a non talking animal pet was just…bizarre. As previously stated, there were only 8 episodes of Laverne & Shirley with Fonzie (the other 5 weeks were reruns of L&S’ 1st season), so I tend to think of this season as Season 1.5 rather than season 2. This series was a co-production between H-B and Ruby Spears (the Mork & Mindy cartoons were produced by Ruby-Spears).

All of these shows were gone from ABC’s Saturday morning schedule the following season. Both series resurfaced (in reruns) on the Pat Roberston owned Family Channel (formerly the Christian Broadcasting Network – CBN) and ran on weekday afternoons under the umbrella title “Fonzie and Friends”, with Fonz and the Happy Days Gang running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Laverne and Shirley in the Army running Tuesdays and Thursdays (FAM didn’t air any of the L&S episodes with Fonzie for whatever reason. Perhaps it was felt that Fonzie’s green army pants clashed with his treademark leather jacket. Who knows?). Fonz and the Happy Days Gang turned up one more time in 1999 as part of TV Land’s short lived Saturday morning program block “Super Retro Vision Saturdays”.

The trend of doing SatAM cartoons based on live action prime time sitcoms seems to have petered out, although one can only imagine what things would be like if networks were still making cartoons based on their popular prime time shows.

Sheldon_and_Leonard

Sheldon: A Saturday morning cartoon about us? I suppose that I’d be open to that idea, provided that we wouldn’t be saddled with some annoying, unrealistic non-human comic relief mascot.

Leonard: We’ve already got one of those, Sheldon.

Sheldon: You’re referring to Wolowitz, correct?

Leonard: No comment.

The Retro Bin: Fred and Barney Meet The Thing (1979)

It’s time for another segment of The Retro Bin. Saturday mornings in the 1970s has brought us some pretty way out concepts. Marvel Comics owned the rights to several Hanna-Barbera franchises at the time and was publishing comic books based on them, including The Flintstones. This in turn lead to one of the What-the-what-est titles in animation history, Hanna-Barbera’s Fred and Barney Meet The Thing.

Fred and Barney Meet The Thing was a 60 minute Saturday morning cartoon which ran on NBC from September 8th to December 1st, 1979. The show’s title was misleading, as there was no episode in which Fred and Barney actually meet The Thing. In fact, the characters never appeared on screen together except in the shows’ opening title sequence and the wraparounds which aired between shorts. The former of which can be seen here. Apologies in advance for the poor video quality:

I’m not going to talk much about the Fred and Barney part of the show, primarily because it’s nothing that everyone doesn’t already know. It was basically The New Fred and Barney Show,which ran on NBC a few months earlier. Yep, it’s The Flintstones. The modern Stone Age shtick. Fred schemes. Barney does the sidekick thing. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill. The Thing segments are more noteworthy because of how nutty the shows’ concept was. Initially, I thought, “Hey. Hanna-Barbera is making a cartoon starring The Thing. That could be good.” Was it a new series about the Fantastic Four? Nope. Was it a television version of Marvel’s Two-in-One comic book series in which Ben Grimm teams up with a different Marvel character every issue? Nope. It’s a series which featured the ever lovin’ blue eyed powerhouse surviving high school shenanigans!

Loki WTF

OK, here’s the setup: Test pilot Ben Grimm seeks the help of his scientist friend Dr. Harkness to find a way to restore him to his human form. The scientist experiments on Ben and does turn him human, but not in his test pilot form, but rather in the body of a skinny, scrawny American teenager called “Benjy” Grimm. However, Benjy does now have the ability to switch back and forth from human to rock form at will courtesy of a “Thing Ring” (actually 2 rings, one on each hand) which Benjy would clasp together and chant “Thing Ring, do your thing!” Interestingly, Benji lost his Jimmy Durante style mode of speaking while in human form.
Peter Parker…whoops, I mean, Benjy attended Centerville High School getting into Archie-style misadventures along with his school chums. The popular and somewhat shallow girl Betty, her wealthy boyfriend Ronald Radford, who was just as snooty and uppity as he was rich, Betty’s kid sister Kelly (whom I must admit to kind of liking. She was very cute) who was also the only other person besides her father, the aforementioned Dr. Harkness who knew his secret, The Yancy Street Gang (Spike, the diminutive leader with a Napoleon complex, tall, skinny, gangly, sunglasses wearing Stretch and Turkey, the big dumb guy who resembled a modern day version of Zonk from the Bronto Bunch. Perhaps he’s Zonk’s descendant), here reduced to being a 3 member Bronto Bunch instead of being a dangerous street gang, and their scatterbrained, giggling teacher Ms. Twilly.

Yeah, this is precisely what comes to mind when I think of The Thing from Marvel Comics.

You’re probably wondering what happened to Reed Richards, Susan Storm-Richards and Johnny Storm. Well, you’ll have to keep on wondering because we never found out. The Fantastic Four never appeared on the series, nor did Ben ever mention being part of a team. You have to wonder why H-B felt the need to change so much. Did they think that if the show resembled the comics too much that kids wouldn’t take it seriously?
Between segments were wraparounds in which the characters would indulge in telling bad jokes. As previously stated, this was the only part of the show aside from the opening titles in which the Flintstones cast would interact with the Thing cast. Some examples of these would be:
The Thing: Hey, Fred. Is it true that you have trouble making up your mind?
Fred: Well, yes and no.
or
Turkey: Hey, Spike. How come you won’t let Stretch an’ me go to the zoo wit’ you’s?
Spike: No way! If they want you, they can come an’ get you!
or
Barney: Hey, Ms. Twilly, how come you’re standing outside with your purse open?
Ms. Twilly: I heard that there was going to be a change in the weather!

“Don’t quit your day job, Bubbula!”

 For the 1979-1980 season, the show was expanded to 90 minutes with recycled episodes of HB’s The New Shmoo added to the lineup and the shows’ title changed to Fred and Barney Meet The Shmoo, although the Thing segments were still part of the show. The Shmoo would return in the “Bedrock Cops” segments of The Flintstone Comedy Show (1980).
shmoo
“Hanna-Barbera really thought that I would fit in living in Bedrock with the cast of The Flintstones? What were those guys smoking?”
 
Fred and Barney Meet The Thing was one of the strangest SatAM series to come down the pike, but at least we know that no network executive would ever try to mess with popular a comic book super hero character in this fashion nowadays.
SeniorBusiness-Executive1
“Actually, I’ve been toying with this idea for a new series where Ben Grimm travels around the country solving mysteries along with 2 kids and a dog…”

 

“IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!!!”

What follows are the sound effects of a network executive being beaten senseless by an orange rock monster. You don’t want to see this. It isn’t pretty.

The Retro Bin: Yo Yogi! (1991)

It’s that time again! Time for another installment of The Retro Bin. Remember that great animated series that featured all new versions of those beloved classic cartoon characters that we grew up watching? The one that debuted in the early 1990s? The one that had all of those great jokes and well written stories? The one that gave us a reason to start watching cartoons again? That show was Steven Spielberg’s Tiny Toon Adventures, but we’re not going to be talking about that show today. Instead, we’ll be talking about a cheap Hanna-Barbera produced knockoff of that show. A Saturday morning “quickie” (as in quickly gone and forgotten) from 1991 titled Yo, Yogi!.

yo_yogi

When the shows’ title is a worn out buzzword, that’s not a good sign.

Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies begat The Flintstone Kids, which had sex with Tiny Toons to spawn this show. Yo, Yogi! was like Tiny Toon Adventures, only without the memorable characters, clever writing or funny jokes. Yo, Yogi! was one of the last Hanna-Barbera produced Saturday morning shows before NBC abandoned Saturday morning cartoons in favor of live action, teen-centric programming (i.e., Saved By the Bell clones) the alphabet networks did away with SatAM cartoons altogether. Yo, Yogi! ran for only a single season (1991) on NBC. Apparently, someone at H-B studios thought that shrinking Yogi Bear down to half of his height and dressing him up in a lime green puffy jacket and red hi-top sneakers would be a good idea.

“DUDE! The green jacket and rd hi-top are so 90s! It’s AWESOME!!”

*********************************************************************
Anyway, here’s the premise:Yo, Yogi! takes place in Jellystone Town (so it’s a town now?). Yogi Bear, along with his sidekick Boo-Boo and their pals Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss and Cindy Bear (voiced this time around by Kath Soucie) have been de-aged into 14-year-old teenagers. The characters hung out at Jellystone Mall (which appeared to be patterned after the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota) owned by “Diamond” Doggie Daddy with Augie Doggie as his heir to the mall business. Yogi and the gang work at an agency called L.A.F. (short for Lost and Found – The initials spell out LAF, as in ‘Laugh’, get it?) where they act as detectives trying to solve mysteries under the supervision of the mall’s security guard Officer Smith. Dick , or “Dickie” Dastardly as he was called here (doing his best Montana Max impression) and his sidekick Muttley would cause trouble for Yogi and his gang. New character Roxie Bear was a teenager who was causing trouble with Dick Dastardly and she was Cindy’s rival and Yogi’s competitor. The characters were never seen at home or school. Some other H-B characters were also turned into teenagers, such as Top Cat, Wally Gator and Hardy-Har-Har, while other characters such as Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, were featured as young children. Magilla Gorilla appeared in 1 episode as a famous rapper named Magilla Ice (groan!)
**********************************************************
Here’s the shows’ opening:

A lot of this show didn’t make much sense to me. First, if this series is supposed to take place before the old shorts, does that mean that Jellystone started out as a mega mall and was later torn down to make room for a national park? Second, why did Yogi and his friends wear more clothing as teenagers than they do as adults? And why was Dick Dastardly always trying to mess with the L.A.F. Squad anyway? What did he get out of it? At least in DD’s previous incarnations, he had clear motivations. In both Wacky Races and Fender Bender 500, he wanted to win the race, and he preferred cheating to achieve this goal. In Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Dick wanted followed Yogi’s Gang around so that if they found any treasure, he could ambush them and claim the treasure for himself without having to do any actual work. Here, he just meddled in the gang’s affairs simply because he seemed to have nothing better to do. And like in his previous appearances, if he didn’t devote so much of his time to trying to screw over the good guys, he’d probably do all right for himself. And it didn’t make sense how some characters were de-aged for the show, while others weren’t. If Yogi and company all hung out with Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy in the present, how is it that Auggie and his dad are still the same age here? Unless the Auggie Doggie on Yo, Yogi! is actually Doggie Daddy as a puppy and the Doggie Daddy on this show is his father, who’s also called Doggie Daddy…

Sorry. Didn’t mean to blow your mind. I think that it’s best to think of Yo, Yogi! as an alternate reality rather than a flashback, as that would make a tad more sense. Tiny Toon Adventures was one of the best written TV shows of the 1990s. Yo, Yogi! didn’t seem written at all.

The main problem that I had with Yo, Yogi! was the entire mentality of the show’s supposed appeal smacked too much of this:

Steve Buscemi - How Do You Do Fellow Kids

Or to put it another way, if anyone remembers that one episode of The Simpsons titled “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show”, the worst thing about Yo, Yogi! was that the whole series was a “Poochie”; a soulless by-product of committee thinking. It was based on the premise that kids would be more willing to watch a show with established cartoon characters from several decades earlier if they were remade to be “cool”, and it seemed like the entire series was concocted in board room by executives who don’t have a creative bone in their collective bodies. I doubt that the producers of Yo, Yogi! even knew what a writer was. The shows’ producers and writers tried to make Yo, Yogi! like Tiny Toon Adventures without realizing what is was that made TTA so great. Quite frankly, if taking established characters and trying to update them for younger audiences by making them desperately cool and hip is the only way to get them back on the air, then I think it’s better that they stay buried.

NEVER FORGET

The Retro Bin: Little Muppet Monsters (1985)

Mark this day on your calendars, for you’re about to witness something historic: we’re about to dig into the first Retro Bin entry that’s not about a Hanna-Barbera cartoon! It’s not that we have a grudge against HB, it’s just that the Retro Boxes typically cover toons from the 70’s through 90’s, and HB produced a lot of stuff during that era, so there’s a lot of that studio’s shows to cover. But we don’t just riff on Hanna-Barbera’s retro-cheese, we’re equal opportunity wise-crackers. Now, on with the review:

Today we’ll be looking at Jim Henson’s Little Muppet Monsters, an extremely short-lived live-action/puppet/animation hybrid series which ran briefly on CBS. If you don’t remember this show, that’s hardly surprising; Little Muppet Monsters is one of those shows that takes longer to talk about than it actually ran, which was for exactly 3 weeks from September 14 to September 28, 1985.

 
First, a little history is required: in order to review Little Muppet Monsters, one must first familiarize ourselves with CBS SatAM at that time. Into the WABAC machine….
 
The year was 1985. CBS was riding high on the success of their Saturday morning cartoon series Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, which was itself based on a brief but highly popular musical fantasy sequence from the film The Muppets Take Manhattan, released a year earlier in 1984, in which Miss Piggy poses the hypothetical question of what it might have been like if the Muppet Show gang had known each other when they were little. Muppet Babies was therefore based entirely in un-reality, which is good because if one were to ever stop and ponder the show in any kind of canonical fashion, it would only raise a ton of puzzling unanswerable questions, such as: why, if only 2 of the Muppet Babies, Scooter and Skeeter, were related, did they all live together in the same house? And where were their parents? Nanny (voiced by Barbara “June Cleaver” Billingsley) was clearly just a domestic and not the owner of the place. So just where and what was this house with no master where the Muppets lived? (It might have been more plausible if the producers had made the house a nursery school or a day care center.) And speaking of Scooter, why was he even there? On The Muppet Show, Scooter was just a kid while the other characters were adults, so logically, neither he nor Kermit’s nephew Robin should have been on MB at all, as realistically they weren’t even gleams in their moms’ eyes during that time. And what was the deal with Bunsen and Beaker? They didn’t live with the other Babies; they just occasionally visited, so where did they live, and who was in charge of them? And why and how does a baby (albeit a baby scientist) have a baby assistant? How does that work? Or perhaps Bunsen and Beaker were/are brothers? And why was Baby Piggy still macking on Baby Kermit? If we’re supposed to believe that for this series, Kermit and Piggy grew up together and were raised together in the same house no less, then they should feel more like brother and sister. And what was up with Animal? Since when was he “younger” than the others, like they tried to established on the show? I suppose they just needed a reason to explain why he was the way he was, i.e., more feral and animal-like than the actual animals on the show. I had always suspected that his behavior was due to years of living the hardcore rock-and-roll lifestyle, months on the road, wild parties, alleged sex with groupies and years of being fried had simply taken their toll on him. There I go over-thinking things again. Muppet Babies is just one of those shows where it’s best to check your brain at the door and simply roll with it, as any hint of logic would’ve killed the entire series.
 
-Incidentally, I know I haven’t said much about Little Muppet Monsters yet, but given the show’s lifetime was so brief, there really isn’t much to say about it other than “It happened”. Anywho, Muppet Babies was a huge ratings hit; it did so well in its’ first season that CBS wanted to expand the show to an hour, thus Team Henson created a second show to fill out an additional half-hour; the combined venture was called Jim Henson’s Muppets, Babies and Monsters.
 
“The concept of this second half-hour was neither simple nor particularly well-developed,” according to storyboard director Scott Shaw. LMM focused on a trio of live-action (Muppet) monster kids named Tug, Boo and Molly. The 3 offered little in the way of characterization, as the series wasn’t around long enough for any of them to establish any solid identities. Tug and Boo were brothers and Molly was the token girl, but beyond that there wasn’t much to say about them. The show’s premise was that the trio had started their own TV station from the basement of the adult Muppets’ home (so wait, all of the Muppets live together in one house? Was this the same continuity as Muppets from Space?) which broadcasts only to the TV sets in the house upstairs, after an incident where Scooter has them put in the basement after Molly and Boo played water polo in the living room. (Again, huh? Since when is Scooter any kind of authority figure? It’s amazing how even Henson studio tends to forget that Scooter’s just a kid.) The kids were joined by Nicky Napoleon and his Emperor Penguins as their music act/house band.
 
 
 
 
The ‘shows’ broadcast on this quasi TV station were mostly recycled segments from The Muppet Show, only in animated form (CBS must’ve figured if kids will watch animated Muppet Babies, they’ll watch animated Muppet everything else), such as “Pigs in Space”, “Muppet Sport Shorts” featuring Animal for some reason (the dude’s a rocker, not a jock), “Fozzie’s Comedy Corner” in which a live-action Fozzie Bear tells variations on the “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke as an animated stick-figure chicken does strange things on-screen, “Gonzo’s Freaky Facts and Oddball Achievements,” pretty much the same basic idea as “Comedy Corner” only with Gonzo acting as host instead of Fozzie and the emphasis being on weirdness rather than jokes.  The final segment of each show was “Kermit the Frog: Private Eye”, allegedly film noir parodies starring Kermit as a Sam Spade-esque detective and Fozzie as his assistant, but they would usually drift away from this go off on some irrelevant tangent; the stories typically rambled and faltered and rarely came to any logical conclusion. As with the show as a whole, one really couldn’t say anything about the segments beyond, “OK, so that happened.”
 
 
As per tradition, here’s the show’s opening:
 
 
 
 
 


Of the thirteen episodes that were produced, only three of them ever aired (and some of the remaining 10 epsiodes were incomplete at the time of cancellation). Ironically, it was Jim Henson himself who decided to pull the plug; Henson Associates and CBS agreed that the concept had never been properly thought out and just wasn’t up to Henson’s high standards. A quote from the man himself:

“I’ve always felt that the juxtapositioning of live-action and animated Muppets invited an unfavorable comparison, to which the cartoon version inevitably suffered; the puppetry was just too good. The combination of Muppet babies, adults and kid monsters was very disorienting. Also, due to a lack of development time, the concept — and therefore, the writing and designs — never quite jelled.”

The now-vacant second half-hour was filled with repeats from Muppet Babies‘ 1st season. The ratings stayed strong, and everyone was happy. The only traces of LMM’s existence was the 6-note bridge from the LMM theme song, which remained part of Muppet Babies‘ closing title sequence throughout the remainder of the show’s run as well as syndication. Also, in another of TV’s great ironies, in 1990, segments of the animated “Pigs in Space” and “Kermit the Frog, Private Eye” from the second episode of Little Muppet Monsters titled “Space Cowboys” were re-shown in the final episode of Muppet Babies titled “Eight Flags Over the Nursery”.

Today, Little Muppet Monsters is no more. The series has yet to turn up on DVD, and given that most people have either forgotten about LMM or simply had no idea that it ever existed at all, it’s unlikely that it ever will. Some of the puppet models for the Monster characters have since been re-used for other purposes:

  • Boo Monster appears in The Jim Henson Hour episode “Science Fiction.” He is seen as an audience member of the “Miss Galaxy” pageant.
  • Boo Monster appears in The Cosby Show episode “Cliff’s Nightmare.”
  • Tug Monster made a background cameo in the opening of The Muppets at Walt Disney World.
  • The puppet for Tug Monster was later seen in Nick Jr.’s Muppet Time as Do Re Mi Monster and was later seen as different customers in Mopatop’s Shop.

Finally, in yet another great irony, all 3 central characters: Tug Monster, Molly Monster, and Boo Monster were seen briefly in the special The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, which was broadcast on January 21, 1986. The special was shot before the suggestion was made to take Little Muppet Monsters off the air, so the show cheerfully celebrated the Muppets’ latest production and the newest additions to the Muppet family—even though that production had been canceled four months earlier.