Muppet Babies was released on DVD for the first time this week! If you have little fans of the show, you’re definitely going to want to check out Muppet Babies: Time To Play! If you have yet to see this show and want to know what to expect, then read on, we’ve got all the details!
I had never seen Muppet Babies before I reviewed this DVD. I actually haven’t even seen the original incarnation of the Muppet Babies from the 80’s, which I wish I had so I could actually have something more to compare this one to. However, I am a big fan of the Muppets in general, so I was looking forward to seeing some new Muppet content from Disney, since the last we’ve gotten was ABC’s The Muppets, over two years ago. I was completely aware that this new show was aimed directly at kids though, so I wasn’t expecting anything groundbreaking.
As I watched these episodes of Muppet Babies for this review, I was really of two minds. On the one hand, I thought it was cute, had fun songs, and would be a great show for little kids watch. It had great morals that are important to teach little kids, and the use of the Muppet Babies’ imaginations is a great vehicle to deliver those messages in an entertaining way.
On the other hand, as a Muppet fan, I really wasn’t getting much “Muppetieness” out of the show. To be fair, there is some, is just noticeably restrained. Gonzo is weird, but a very muted version of weird, where he likes juggling Brussel sprouts while whistling instead of wrestling a brick, or eating a tire, or enjoying literal torture. Miss Piggy has an attitude, but only in small amounts until she learns a lesson, like being a good sport when you lose is an important part of becoming a winner.
I know this is a weird criticism for a show aimed at the 3-6 crowd, but I feel like the show is too positive. Maybe that’s a good thing for a normal kid’s show, but it seems very off for the Muppets.
The biggest place where this is a problem (for me) is the inclusion of Statler and Waldorf. I was initially excited to see them included in the show as the Muppet Babies’ next door neighbors, but instead of being hilariously critical of everything, they just kind of make kid-friendly jokes. This is most apparent in their interactions with Fozzie.
In terms of characters acting like their original ‘adult’ selves, Fozzie is the closest. He kind and supportive, and he makes the exact same kind of cheesy terrible jokes as a kid that he makes as an adult. His jokes have always been notoriously bad, and everyone knows it. It’s why we like him.
However, in this show, everyone laughs at his jokes, unironically, INCLUDING Statler and Waldorf. Yeah, it would be cruel and weird if two old men made fun of a toddler in real life, but these are the Muppets. It just feels wrong for Statler and Waldorf to be nice. And also for Fozzie’s jokes to actually land with his audience.
One thing I did enjoy were the cameos and appearances from other Muppets, beyond our core five, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Animal. (Six if you count the inclusion of new character, Summer Penguin.) As mentioned before, Statler and Waldor are neighbors to the main characters and show up in several episodes, Rizzo shows up for an episode, as well as Bunsen and Beaker, and Camilla the chicken is in several episodes as one of the chicks that live in the chicken coop in the backyard. Gonzo has picked her out as his favorite. Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths even make a background cameo in a picture, and all the adult Muppets appear in a very brief cameo gag in an episode that involves time travel.
I also really enjoy the voice acting in the show, particularly Jenny Slate as Miss Nanny. She always does a fantastic job no matter what she’s in, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear her voice here. The performers of the Muppet Babies themselves all do a good job as well, especially Eric Bauza as Baby Fozzie, who sounds exactly as you would expect a younger Fozzie to sound.
In the end, this is definitely not a bad show, it’s just not aimed at my demographic, even as a Muppet fan. However, if you have kids in the toddler to kindergarten age range, I think this is definitely something they could enjoy.
This set, while not a full season, does offer a lot of entertainment value, especially for its target audience. If I’m buying a show for myself, I prefer season sets, but for kids, a DVD with a selection of episodes like this is perfect.
As the disk tells you upon loading it into the player, it is equipped with Disney’s FastPlay, which essentially makes the DVD function like a VHS, playing all the episodes in order with the bonus features at the end. This functionality is, again, perfect for kids.
The DVD contains four episodes, as well as two more bonus episodes. What exactly makes these other two episodes ‘bonus’ I can’t tell, as the six episodes are the first six episodes of the series, and they are presented in order. Every episode contains two cartoons, giving the set 12 shorts in all.
For bonus features, the set also contains 10 bonus ‘Show and Tell’ shorts, where the Muppet Babies each take turns showing and telling the viewers about something. These are cute, and a very kid-friendly bonus feature.
The set also has 6 music videos which, while they all seem to be just clips from the show, are perfect for their target audience. For kids who love the music from the show, they’ll love watching these videos.
This set is not for me, but that doesn’t make it a bad show. Not every show has to appeal to every person, and that’s fine. Muppet Babies knows its target audience, and caters directly to them. It doesn’t need to appeal to me, because it’s not made for me. That being said, if I had a kid, I wouldn’t have a problem letting them watch this. It’s cute, colorful, and fun, and is a great show for little kids. If you have anyone within the target age-range of this show, I’d definitely recommend it.
Purchase: Muppet Babies: Let’s Play!