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Film / The Muppet Musicians of Bremen

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The Muppet Musicians of Bremen is a 1972 Muppet special from Jim Henson, the last in a handful of Tales from Muppetland specials (after Hey Cinderella! and Tales from Muppetland: The Frog Prince).
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Narrated by Kermit the Frog, this special is a retelling of The Bremen Town Musicians, moving the location from a city to a southern town in Louisiana. It involves four runaway barn animals - Leroy the Donkey, TR the Rooster, Rover Joe the Dog, and Catgut the Cat - whose mean-spirited owners have either thrown them out or were set to kill them. With Leroy hauling a wagon of instruments (which his owner, Mordecai Sledge, had stolen), Leroy decides to become a traveling musician, in hopes that families will give him food and shelter, and after finding the other animals, they all join together to become traveling musicians.

This special was a little different from Jim Henson's past productions, in that very few of the Muppet performers lent their voices. Aside from Henson and Jerry Nelson, all of the voices were provided by outside talent. This special also featured impressive puppetry effects, particularly with the villains, who switch from being hand puppets in close-ups to full-bodied costumed characters in wide shots.

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The Muppet Musicians of Bremen contains examples of

  • Big Eater: Lardpork.
  • Composite Character: Unlike in the original story, the robbers based in the cottage are the animals' former owners.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What leads to Leroy, Rover Joe, and Catgut's departures from their homes. Mordecai blames Leroy for the fact that they only had time to steal a bag of instruments and decides to "retire" him by shooting him. When Mean Floyd finds out that the ghost sounds were actually Rover Joe's snores, he throws him out (through the window). Similarly, when Caleb Siles finds Catgut singing to and befriending the rats, he immediately throws her out the window and into a bucket of water.
  • Establishing Character Moment: At the beginning, Kermit says that the animals used to be sad because of the people who owned them, leading to a montage showing each owner expressing their main character trait - Mordecai getting angry, Lardpork eating, Mean Floyd looking scared, and Caleb Stiles being greedy.
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  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "I feel like a jack ass."
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Mordecai.
  • Meaningful Name: Lardpork.
    • Subverted with Mean Floyd. Despite his name, he is a lot more cowardly and childlike, the least mean of the bunch. The only really mean thing he does is throw Rover Joe out for not coming when he thinks there is a ghost.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: For the most part, Mean Floyd doesn't exactly live up to his name, being more of a childlike coward (though the others have their fears as well). However, when Rover Joe wouldn't attack when Floyd thinks there is a ghost (Rover Joe is sleeping and his snoring sounds like ghost sounds to him), and finds out that it had been Rover Joe the whole time, he throws him out.
  • Unknown Rival: While maybe not rivals, during the final confrontation, the animals do not realize their former owners are the "family" or even the people they think scared off the family (Leroy later commenting "Now I wonder who they were?"), and as they attack, in the dark, their former owners think the animals are the very things they are afraid of.
  • The Unintelligible: While Mordecai can be understood for the most part, there are times when he can't really be understood. As Kermit notes, "Sometimes it can be difficult to understand what Mordecai says, but maybe that's a good thing."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Why each animal departs from their owners. In the case of Leroy and TR, their owners want to kill them over it (while TR's owner Lardpork pretty much quotes this trope, he decides that he might still be good enough to eat), while Rover Joe and Catgut pretty much just get thrown out by their owners.


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