I fear the children of today do not value the Muppets like they should, and I find that very sad.
My daughter is 9, and though she didn’t really grow up watching Sesame Street, I have raised her and her younger brother to properly respect these flocked entertainment icons of yore; in this house we celebrate every Muppet film, from The Muppet Movie to The Muppets Most Wanted. Yet her friends seem indifferent to — if not shockingly unaware of — the storied history of this now 65-year-old franchise. When given a chance to watch 2011’s The Muppets during a sleepover, one child proclaimed the Muppets to be “boring.” Another shocking referred to Kermit (whose name she did not know) as “the frog with the spikes on his neck and the demon eyes.”
Such blasphemy — and yet, can I blame her? Though Disney spent more than a decade trying to wrest control of the Muppets from the company founded by their creator, Jim Henson (tense negotiations that Frank Oz, veteran Muppeteer and voice of Ms. Piggy, believes contributed to the creative genius’s untimely death), once it finally succeeded in 2004, the Mouse hasn’t seemed to know what to do with them.
The aforementioned 2011 effort to revive the film franchise proved promising, even if The Muppets seemed a little confused about that fact that a Muppet film should focus on the Muppets, and not the relationship woes of a human played by co-writer Jason Segel. Certainly the songs (from the filks behind the brilliant musical comedy Flight of the Conchords) were brilliant. But audiences appeared largely unmoved, and the (much better, more Muppet-y) 2014 followup Muppets Most Wanted vastly underperformed.
A 2015 attempt to meld the Muppets with the cringe comedy sensibility of The Office resulted in a woefully misjudged NBC sitcom that lasted just one season. The launch of Disney+ brought with it an announcement of a new Muppet TV series that was abruptly cancelled before a single episode was made. A token effort has been made to introduce little ones to the beloved characters with the Disney Jr. version of Muppet Babies, but it’s nowhere near as weird, charming, or uniquely Muppet-y as the ‘80s original, which Disney seems totally uninterested in licensing. At least they finally put the classic ‘70s The Muppet Show on the streaming service — though I find it baffling that they haven’t attempted to launch a modern-day followup (perhaps having been burned by the reception to The Muppets Tonight, the criminally short-lived mid-’90s attempt at a reboot).
This is all a very long way of saying that I am at least mildly heartened by the fact that the one thing Disney+ has going for it in October — it’s only significant Disney+ Original of note all month — is a new Muppet movie, even if it is being used to sell a Disney theme park attraction. The Muppets Haunted Mansion (Oct. 8), direct by Kirk Thatcher, co-writer of Muppet Treasure Island and director of The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, sends daredevil Gonzo into the titular edifice for a night of scares.
Don’t get me wrong: This spooky season treat probably won’t reach the heights of the Muppets heyday. But at least an effort being made to keep these characters alive, you know?
Demon-eyed frog indeed.
Here’s everything else coming to Disney+ in October. Prepare to be underwhelmed: This is the first time in a while that there won’t be a new Marvel or Star Wars show on offer.
Series with new episodes premiering weekly in October
- Chip ‘n’ Dale: Park Life (Season finale Oct. 13)
- Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.
- Marvel’s What If…? (Season finale Oct. 6)
- Turner & Hooch (Season finale Oct. 6)
Movies and complete series/seasons coming in October
Arriving Oct. 1
- Alvin and the Chipmunks
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
- Just Roll With It: You Decide Live!
- Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales
- The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!
Arriving Oct. 6
- Among the Stars (S1) — Disney+ Original premiere
- Black Widow
- Disney Junior The Chicken Squad (S1): “The Surprise Party Surprise / U.F. Oh-No”
- Drain The Oceans: The Mississippi River & Arctic War (S1)
- Drain The Oceans (S4)
- The Ghost And Molly McGee (S1), 5 episodes
- Impact With Gal Gadot (S1)
- Muppet Babies (S3), 9 episodes
- Puppy Dog Pals (S4), 5 episodes
- Spidey And His Amazing Friends (S1): “Rocket Rhino / Trick Or Trace-E”
Arriving Oct. 8
- Disney Junior Mickey’s Tale Of Two Witches
- Muppets Haunted Mansion
- Under Wraps
Arriving Oct. 13
- Apollo: Back To The Moon (S1)
- Just Beyond (S1), Disney+ Original premiere
- Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures (S1): “The Spooky Spook House / Clarabelle’s Banana Splitz!”
- Secrets Of The Zoo: North Carolina (S1)
- Secrets Of The Zoo: Down Under (S2)
- The Wizard Of Paws (S1)
- Zombies: Addison’s Moonstone Mystery Shorts (S1)
Arriving Oct. 15
- Lost Cities With Albert Lin: The Great Flood
- Megacity Of The Maya Warrior King
Arriving Oct. 20
- Disney Insider: “Drawn To Life, Muppets and the Haunted Mansion, Our Very Own Studio Tour”
- Disney’s Magic Bake-Off (S1), 4 episodes
- Marvel Studios: Assembled — “The Making of Black Widow”
- PJ Masks (S5), 6 episodes
- The Wild Life Of Dr. Ole (S1)
Arriving Oct. 22
- Rookie Of The Year
Arriving Oct. 27
- Disney Insider: “Harmonies of Harmonious, Tiana’s Cuisine, Galaxy’s Edge Expands… Virtually”
- Marvel Studios: Assembled — “The Making of What If…?”
- Port Protection Alaska (S4)
Arriving Oct. 29
- Bob Ballard: An Explorer’s Life
- McFarland, USA