Editor’s note. My blog platform has been acting up. The first two attempts at publishing this left out some important stuff. I hope I’ve got it right this time.
Although The Muppet Show went off the air in 1981, the Muppets are still solidly ingrained in American pop culture. This is because Jim Henson and his associates have used every media platform you could think of. There were little things like calendars, coloring books and records, and big ones like TV specials. These started coming out early in the show’s history. Here are some of the 15 post-Muppet Show specials that continued the tradition:
The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show (1982)
The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986)
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree (1995)
A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)
There were also two full-length television movies:
It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie 2002)
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005)
And a number of theatrical movies, including:
The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Muppets from Space (1999).
And, most important to Elvis fans, there were three direct-to-video DVDs:
Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs (1993)
Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
Kermit’s Swamp Years (2002)
Muppet Classic Theater is where the Elvises were born.
Muppet Classic Theater was released in 1994 and contained six ten-to-twelve minute long skits inspired by fairy tales:
Three Little Pigs
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Elves & and the Shoemaker
I guess the similarity of the words Elves and Elvis gave the Muppet’s brain trust the idea to show the elves as Elvises in The Elves and the Shoemaker.
The Muppet Classic Theater adaption of the story featured Kermit the Frog as the Shoemaker, who makes shoes so ugly that nobody will buy them. The banker demands that he pay half of what they owe him the next day, or he will toss them out. His nephew, Robin, wishes for a miracle and his wish is answered.
Later that night, three elves show up and start making blue suede shoes.
In addition to making shoes, the Elvises banter back-and-forth with some clever dialog. And, of course, they sing. They do an original song called “Bad Shoes Blues,” and it is excellent. It clocks in at over two minutes long, and they don’t just stand still and sing. The puppeteers got very creative with the action.
Some of the lyrics of the verses are hard to understand, but the lyrics to the chorus are very clear:
Listen to the news
No more bad shoes blues
Any old rhythm you choose
I got the blue suede shoes
I’ve watched this video five or six times, so I’ve started to notice some cool little things. Here, one of the elves moves around in front of the workbench, and the other two start doing choreographed moves behind him.
As they leave the shoemaker’s store, the host’s voice-over says, “Ladies and gentlemen, the elves have left the building.”
The blue suede shoes are a huge success, and the shoemaker pays off the banker. In appreciation to the elves, he makes them sequined white jumpsuits. They move to Las Vegas and play the big room at the Palace Hotel, two shows a night. The skit ends with them doing a reprise of “Bad Shoes Blues.”
Hopefully, this long introduction has you ready to watch The Shoemaker and the Elves video. It was posted online four years ago, and when I started this research, it had been viewed only 157 times. Now it’s 169, so in addition to my views, some other folks pushed up the total. I think some of you were intrigued with my tease last week and looked it up on Google. Now everybody can check it out, too. I can’t wait to see what the count is a week from now.
Here it is. The Elves and the Shoemaker. I think you’ll love it.
The Muppets returned to TV in 1996 in a new show called Muppets Tonight. It ran for three seasons, which was long enough for three more appearances by the Elvises in a recurring feature, “Great Moments in Elvis History.”
Next week, we’ll look at all three.
© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.