In 1984, the Muppets were on a bit of downslide. The Muppet Show had ended its five-season run in 1981, the same year the Muppets had last been on the big screen in The Great Muppet Caper. That’s not to say that Henson and company were bored by any means. 1982 had seen the all-puppet feature film, The Dark Crystal, and Fraggle Rock was introduced on HBO in 1983. And, of course, there was always Big Bird and his friends on Sesame Street to keep Muppeteers busy. But the Muppets – Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and the rest of the gang – were sort of off the radar at the time. They’d had a few TV specials here and there, and The Muppet Show was still being shown in syndication, but the characters were essentially shelved while Henson focused on other creative ventures.
But that all changed when their new film, The Muppets Take Manhattan, was released in theaters. It wasn’t that the film itself, which told of Kermit’s journey to bring the Muppets to Broadway, was a huge success. In fact, of the six original Muppet features, Manhattan ranks #5 with a box office take of only $25 million (Muppets from Space is #6, which should surprise no one). However, there was one scene in Manhattan that was destined to bring the Muppets back into the spotlight.
If you were alive in 1984, you probably loved this scene; I know I did. The little Muppets were adorable and the song was a catchy 1950’s throwback, complete with Fozzie, Gonzo, and Scooter backup singers. Although it is cuter than cute, if you think about it, there’s no reason for the scene to exist; it’s a dream sequence (not a flashback), and it’s inclusion doesn’t progress the story at all. It feels like a scene from another film, and there is some indication that this is not entirely by accident.