<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>OK, so, you saw <b>The Muppets</b> the film took in $41.5 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, so you're not alone. You've already memorized each word of "Life's a Happy Song" and have been thoroughly annoying friends and family by communicating solely through your Miss Piggy voice. What's next? <p>Whether you're a new fan charmed by the franchise for the first time, or a long-time admirer returning to the fold, it's clear that a lot of people have Muppets on the brain, thanks to the Jason Segel and Amy Adams-starred movie. Rather than "moving on with your life" and "thinking about things that a rational adult should be concerned about," here at Newsarama, we've compiled 10 options to further fuel your Muppetmania. <p>Sure, some are obvious the original <I>Muppet Movie</i>, or <i>The Muppet Show</i>, both of which served as huge direct inspirations of the new film. But we've gone a little bit deeper, and are recommending some things that you may not have heard of and aren't necessarily available at your local Best Buy, but are all important parts of Jim Henson's legacy that are worth a little digging. <p>Click "start here" on the upper-left corner to start the countdown, whether you're a very manly Muppet or a Muppet of a man. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
There are a lot of Muppet productions celebrating Christmas including 1992's theatrical release <i>The Muppet Christmas Carol</i>, and TV specials <i>It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie</i> (2002) and <i>A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa</i> (2008). <p><i>A Muppet Family Christmas</i> predates all of those, and the 1987 TV special represents a landmark event in Muppet history: it brought together the classic <i>Muppet Show</i> crew, the gang from <I>Sesame Street</i>, the <i>Muppet Babies</i> (appearing here as puppets, à la <i>The Muppets Take Manhattan</i>, rather than as cartoons) and much of the <i>Fraggle Rock</i> cast, a historic team-up of <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartoon_All-Stars_to_the_Rescue><i>Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue</i></a> proportions. <p>Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it's not currently in print on DVD probably because of rights issues stemming from Disney's 2004 purchase of the <i>Muppet Show</i> Muppets but the good news is that it can currently be found in its entirety on <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtgYDpvRCMI>YouTube</a>.
Disney owns Marvel, which means the publisher currently has the rights to Muppet comic books (they're currently reprinting the recent BOOM! Studios material; more on that later). But Marvel and the Muppets actually have a pretty long history. <p>In the '80s, Marvel's kid-friendly Star Comics line published comic books based on <i>Muppet Babies</i>, <i>Fraggle Rock</i> and a three-issue miniseries adaptation of the 1984 film <i>The Muppets Take Manhattan</i> (which, as hardcore Muppet comic book enthusiasts surely know, first appeared in <i>Marvel Super Special #32</i>). <p>None of these are in print right now, but back issues can be found reasonably cheaply. Plus, with Marvel publishing Muppet comics now, there's at least a remote possibility that some of these will come out of the archives. <p>And though it wasn't published by Marvel, the early '90s saw a <i>Dinosaurs</i> comic illustrated, in part, by <i>Winter Soldier</i> artist Butch Guice. The guy's got range.
Muppet productions are known for their musical numbers, the new film was certainly no exception, with <i>Flight of the Conchords</i> co-star Bret McKenzie serving as music supervisor. <p>Looking for more tunes past <i>The Muppets</i> soundtrack? Earlier this year saw the release of <i>Muppets: The Green Album</i>, a cover album featuring Andrew Bird singing "Bein' Green," Alkaline Trio performing "Moving Right Along" and viral videos whiz kids OK Go on "<i>The Muppet Show</i> Theme." <p>If you're looking for Miss Piggy and Ozzy Osbourne singing "Born to Be Wild" as a duet, you happen to be in luck (and have very specific desires) track down a copy of 1995's <i>Kermit Unpigged</i>. Feeling seasonally festive? There's always <i>John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together</i> from 1979. And of course, there's this: <p>
If you're a child of the '80s, you probably already know about <i>The Dark Crystal</i> and <i> Labyrinth</i>, both live-action fantasy films directed by Jim Henson (the latter co-directed by Frank Oz). <p>If you haven't seen them, both are available on Netflix Instant. Go watch, and report back. We'll still be here.
<i>The Muppet Show</i> is a big deal, but it's definitely not the only Jim Henson-related show that made an impact on TV. <p>The 1988 series <i>The Storyteller</i> brought folk tales to life, and in a nice twist for this list, is actually widely available on DVD. The year after that, <i>The Jim Henson Hour</i> (pictured) premiered on NBC, which was short-lived but included an updated <i>Muppet Show</i> segment called "MuppeTelevision." That show's greatest legacy just might be the "Cliff's Nightmare" episode of <i>The Cosby Show</i>, where Dr. Huxtable has a bad dream involving <i>Jim Henson Hour</i>-era Muppets, following consumption of a sausage sandwich too close to bedtime (who hasn't been there?) <p>The last go-around for a modern <i>Muppet Show</i> was the mid-'90s series <I>Muppets Tonight</i>, which lasted for a couple of short seasons on ABC and gave the world such segments as "Seinfeld Babies," where whomever went the longest without needing a diaper change won "the contest."
<i>Fraggle Rock</i> actually produced nearly as many episode as <i>The Muppet Show</i>, but even if you were a kid when it aired, you might have missed it episodes originally aired on HBO, which wasn't necessarily common in households in those pre-<i>Sopranos</i> days, unless your parents watched a lot of movies or were big fans of <i>1st & Ten</i>. <p>But here's some good news: Not only is it all available on DVD and Netflix Instant, it's also airing weekdays on cable channel The Hub. (Which is also not all that common, but if you do happen to get it, you can also treat yourself to some '60s <i>Batman</i> episodes.)
Well before <i>The Muppet Show</i>, Muppet characters were seen on television via commercials. <p>Jim Henson produced 179 brief commercials for coffee company Wilkins Coffee in the '50s, starring Wilkins (sort of a mildly sinister proto-Kermit) and Wontkins, who refused to drink the stuff much to his consistent detriment. <p> <p>Rowlf the Dog got in on the action in 1962, filming commercials for Purina Dog Chow: <p>
In a list of things to check out following <b>The Muppets</b>, what better to recommend than another movie, also in current theatrical release? <p><i>Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey</i> is a documentary on Kevin Clash, Elmo's performer since 1985 (also Clifford of <i>Muppets Tonight</i> fame and Baby Sinclair on <i>Dinosaurs</i> you know, "Not the mama!" and all that). The character subsequently rose to ubiquitous levels on <i>Sesame Street</i>, and the documentary steadily premiering in more and more cities nationwide has gained acclaim on the festival circuit.
Archaia Entertainment's partnership with The Jim Henson Company has yielded multiple projects involving the Henson characters not owned by Disney, notably several <i>Fraggle Rock</i> comic books. (One story was written by Sam Humphries, who in <i>Our Love is Real</i> depicted an interspecies romance that would likely startle even Kermit and Miss Piggy.) <p>On Dec. 7, the publisher is releasing an anthology based on <i>The Storyteller</i>, featuring contributions from Jeff Parker, Ron Marz, Katie Cook, former Marvel editor Nate Cosby (who also edited the book) and more. Newsarama's interview with Cosby on that project is <a href= http://www.newsarama.com/comics/archaia-immortals-jim-henson-storyteller-110408.html>here</a>. <p>Also on tap from Archaia is <i>Jim Henson's Tale of Sand</i>, a graphic novel that sees Ramón Pérez adapting an unproduced screenplay by Henson and frequent collaborator Jerry Juhl. <a href= http://www.newsarama.com/comics/a-tale-of-sand-jim-henson-110708.html>Read more about that here</a>.
Perhaps no project has captured the good-natured zaniness of <i>The Muppet Show</i> like <i>The Muppet Show Comic Book</i> from BOOM! Studios, by cartoonist Roger Langridge. <p>Starting with two four-part miniseries followed by an ongoing that lasted 15 issues, <i>The Muppet Show Comic Book</i> replicated the format of the TV series, while also playing to the strengths of the comic book medium. Langridge brought his own visual interpretation to the characters rather than simply directly replicating them, adding new life to the recognizable icons. <p>BOOM! Studios also produced <i>Muppet Christmas Carol</i>-style adaptations in comic book form, including <i>Muppet Sherlock Holmes</i>, <i>Muppet King Arthur</i> and <i>Muppet Snow White</i>. <p>Marvel now controls the Muppet comic book license, and has been releasing reprints of <i>The Muppet Show Comic Book</i> to coincide with the theatrical release of <b>The Muppets</b>. Whether or not they'll produce new material with the characters remains to be seen, but the comic book industry can only go so long without Dr. Julius Strangepork.