The series that followed, from 1976 until 1981, was a huge success. Outside of the Sesame Street universe, it solidified the Muppets’ fame. For an entire generation, it was also a beloved childhood symbol. Elton John, Sylvester Stallone, Liza Minnelli, and John Cleese were among the many celebrities who appeared on the show.
Adult comedy based on the Muppets
Many of the phrases were smart and, at the time, risqué for the Muppets. There were, however, talking animals and a lot of physical comedy going on at the same time. As a result, The Muppet Entertainment became the archetypal example of a crossover show that appealed to both young and old viewers. The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1983) were all major box office hits (1984). The trend continued: these were films with a broad family appeal, with adult-oriented celebrity cameos and the rare remark that made you go, “Whoa! I can’t believe the Muppets just said that!” The Muppet films, on the other hand, tended to appeal to younger rather than older viewers. With The Dark Crystal, Henson attempted to break the mould once more in 1982. The film was a serious, dark fantasy adventure picture with new puppets and inventive creatures that looked like they may have come from The Land of Gorch.
The Dark Crystal received mixed reviews and financial success, but it went on to gain a cult following after being released on home video. In 1986, Henson released Labyrinth, a more family-friendly fantasy musical adventure starring David Bowie (in a significant departure for him at the time). The picture, like The Dark Crystal, received mixed reviews but performed better at the box office than The Dark Crystal. In the years to come, it, too, would develop a cult following on home video. With The Storyteller, Henson wanted to continue the darker stuff on television. He then attempted to merge classic Muppet humour with more edgy content in The Jim Henson Hour. The Jim Henson Hour was just 13 episodes long. Shows like Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock, which were geared solely at youngsters, did well for him.
After then, it was Henson’s son Brian who carried the Muppet torch. He created the Dinosaurs series, which the senior Henson had been working on before his death. The 1991-94 series featured live action anthropomorphic Dinosaurs in a sitcom setting (all created by the relatively young Henson Creature Shop). Both The Flintstones and The Simpsons owed a lot to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs tended to appeal to a younger audience, despite attempts to jokingly address more serious themes such as drug misuse, pre-marital sex, and media restriction.
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