Starring: John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Claudio Gora, Terry-Thomas, Mario Donen
Runtime: 1h 45min
Diabolik: a criminal mastermind! Think 1960s Batman villain/dark James Bond. He has a suave underground lair, fast cars and even faster dames, revealing showers, infinite tricks up his (immaculately tailored) sleeves, and a lust for adventure and danger surpassing even Rick O’Connell. He also has A Dame of His Own; Eva – a trusted sidekick and confidant as well as Secret-Lover-in-the-Night-Time (or really any time, it seems). Like her man, the Dame has expensive taste and her only wish for her birthday is an emerald necklace owned by a powerful politician’s wife. Cue heist!
Now, being a Criminal Mastermind, Diabolik has managed to piss off both law inforcement, represented by inspector Ginko, and a mafia-like crime syndicate, led by the ruthless Valmont. They’re both after his hide, and throughout the movie our anti-hero and Eva must thwart their plots and avoid capture, traps and certain death.
Danger: Diabolik is the epitome of the 1960s in our minds (of course, as we are very young and nubile, we didn’t experience the decade ourselves); it’s colourful, cool, sexy and sleek. At first, Diabolik himself was presented like a clear hero – his first heist was immaculately planned with no loss of life. However, as the film progressed, he started killing people left, right and centre. Still, he is much more humane with more of a moral compass than say crime boss Valmont, and we loved how we ende up rooting for both Diabolik and Inspector Ginko. Diabolik and Eva seem very much in love and in a surprisingly healthy relationship. You know, apart from the crime of it all.
We loved the art/graphics of this, the fact that we learn nothing about the backstory of this gentleman criminal (we guess there might be more meat on that bone in the original comic, but we enjoyed the mystery of it all), the Morricone score and the drama queen that is Diabolik himself. It’s a funny, cool, stylish and thoroughly entertaining watch, and we recommend it to basically everyone. Enjoy!
What we learned: Clearly, there’s a universe out there where cars and guns come cheap, but fabric for women’s clothing is out of everyone’s price range. Also, it is impossible NOT to pronounce Diabolik as “diabolique.”
Finding a good cheap Scotch whisky can be tough. There’s a lot of junk on the shelf right next to gems. And the words “glen” or “loch” or “malt” on the label aren’t an indicator of quality on any level. You kind of have to know where the good stuff is and that’s where I come in. I’m lucky enough to get to sample tons of whiskies every year which means I tend to find the stuff that truly does stand out at every price point.
To that end, it’s time for a list of the best Scotch whiskies under $30. For this endeavor, I’m starting at the lowest end that you can really go with decent Scotch whisky in the U.S. From here, I’ll take on the Scotch whisky world in $10 increments while filing in the best Scotch whisky — blended and single malts — along the way. But before we get to all of that, let’s talk about the bottom-shelf stuff that clocks in under $30.
Let’s not kid ourselves with what Scotch whisky at this price point means — these are the whiskies that are made for mixing. These are whiskies that you cut with Coke, fizzy water, and/or into a cocktail. Most of them are built for that purpose only and have zero function otherwise. Let’s not pretend that there are some hidden gems listed below that are going to rival whiskies that cost $20, $50, or $100 more. Hell, there are whiskies that cost $10 more that blow these whiskies out of the water… but I’ll get to those next time, when I’m covering the best whiskies under $40.
Lastly, please note that price in whisk(e)y is a constantly moving target. These whiskies are priced according to my local Total Wine in Kentucky in January 2023. The price of these bottles may vary slightly higher or lower depending on whatever region that you live in. Okay, let’s dive in and find you a solid and cheap Scotch whisky for your bar cart!
Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months
This blended scotch from Loch Lomond is as bottom shelf as you can get in the U.S. That said, this blend takes barrels of grain and malt whiskies from the famed Loch Lomond distillery and aims them towards a fruity and sweet nature before proofing and blending.
Nose: A slight note of bourbon vanilla shines through on the nose with hints of citrus, almonds, and watered-down honey — kind of like stirring honey into a tepid glass of tap water.
Palate: The palate has a mix of dried fruits — raisins, prunes, and maybe dates — with more watered-down honey syrup, a touch of Almond Joy, and a hint of mulled wine.
Finish: The end leans into the dried fruit and mulled wine spices with a final note of what feels like smoked honey.
This whisky won Double Gold at the famed San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2022. Does that make it the best whisky from Scotland, of course not. It does however make it a decent blended scotch worth using as a base mixer for bolder flavors like Coke, ginger ale, or fruity lemonades.
Willam Grant & Sons have a deep bench of whisky distilleries to draw their malt and grain whiskies from for this expression, which includes The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Girvan (Scotland’s largest producer of grain whisky). The ripple with this blend is the triple barreling with new oak, American oak, and re-fill American oak, the latter two both being ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: The sip opens with clear butterscotch next to an almost tin can vibe with a hint of spicy and honeyed malts.
Palate: The palate is slightly fruity with apple core and stem notes next to more of that spiced malt and butterscotch with a soft mineral water note.
Finish: The end is malty but only just barely as the apple core, honey, and butterscotch fade away pretty quickly.
This is a great option if you’re looking for a standard highball whisky. Add a little fizzy water, ice, and a citrus twist and you’re all set.
This whisky was created back in the 1970s when Johnnie Walker discontinued Johnnie Red for a spell. The whisky is a blend of 40 Highland and Speyside whiskies that are up to 15 years old with a mild peat backbone.
Nose: This opens with a nose full of apple hand pies with plenty of cinnamon spice, brown sugar syrup, and buttery pie crust next to a hint of light chocolate powder.
Palate: The taste leans more into a gingersnap warmth with an echo of Nutella that’s more hazelnut than chocolate and a slight touch of smoked apricots.
Finish: The finish leans into that smoked stone fruit but then sweetens towards a maple syrup note that’s short but impactful.
This is another solid bet for whisky and Cokes or standard highballs with good mineral water and a touch of citrus.
This is a release from Diageo that utilizes a lot of Speyside whiskies. Eight single malts are chosen for this blend to highlight the small region within the Scottish Highlands specifically.
Nose: This is classic Speyside from nose to finish with apple and honey dominating the whole way through.
Palate: The palate adds a warm oaty malt and spice next to a very slight nuttiness and maybe a touch of orange marmalade. Imagine an oatmeal-walnut scone with a dollop of that jam on top and you’ll be there.
Finish: The end is short, spicy warm, and slightly honeyed.
This is very “Speyside” forward with all that honey and apple. Overall, this is built for making a nice highball with good fizzy water and a nice garnish.
Johnnie Walker’s entry point expression is also the best-selling scotch expression on the planet. The whisky is a blend from Diageo’s deep stable of distilleries around Scotland that’s specifically designed to be mixed and not taken straight.
Nose: The nose reminds you more of a sweet and citrusy Speyside or Highland whisky.
Palate: The palate holds onto those notes while adding a peppery spice and a hint of orchard fruits.
Finish: The end shifts towards Islay with a wisp of smoke as the sip fades quickly away while warming you with alcohol heat.
This is the original highball whisky from Johnnie Walker. This is built to be a mixer specifically so treat it as such. It does make a hell of a whisky and Coke.
The Famous Grouse is an old-school blend that got its start in a Scottish grocery store where grocers often blended their own whiskies to sell. The whisky is now a mix of single malts and single grains with a focus on parent company partners Highland Park and The Macallan.
Nose: There’s a Christmas cake nose that’s spicy, fruity, and malty and supported by a note of citrus.
Palate: The palate keeps those nose notes rolling with an additional whisper of oak and a hint of malted cookies dipped in lightly smoke honey.
Finish: The end is short and creamy with a distant wisp of campfire smoke far off in the distance.
This is a nice step toward peatier blended malts. It’s very well-balanced and perfect for highball sipping.
Dewar’s blends malt and grain whiskies from over 40 distilleries with the famed Aberfeldy at its core. The whisky is blended and then aged for an additional six months in oak to marry all the flavors before proofing and bottling.
Nose: There’s a matrix of vanilla, oak, and caramel up top that leads towards malts and Christmas spices with an emphasis on nutmeg.
Palate: That vanilla gets very creamy and a sweet, almost peanut brittle edge arrives with a little dried fruit.
Finish: The mid-palate holds onto that sweetness as the maltiness and warmth come back for a fairly quick fade toward the finish.
This is edging toward “on the rocks” territory but truly shines as a highball whisky with a real depth to it. That said, you can also take a shot of this with a beer back (preferably pale ale or bitter) and you’ll be all set.
This single malt from the famed Highland distillery, Glenmorangie, is built to be the ultimate single malt mixing whisky. They don’t release much else about the blend, besides it being a mix of their iconic single malts “made for mixers.”
Nose: The nose is full of grapefruit pith next to ripe pears and vanilla pods, all in equal measure, next to a hint of orange oils and maybe a little wildflower.
Palate: The palate builds on that orange towards a bright orange sherbert, a vanilla pudding creaminess, burnt sugars, light and sweet marzipan, and a touch of dark chocolate infused with red chili flakes.
Finish: The finish really leans into the spicy chocolate and gets slightly bitter as the spice mellows towards mulled wine spices and a touch more sweetness.
This is made to be mixed so mix it into your favorite Scotch whisky cocktails. Start with a penicillin and go from there. You won’t be disappointed.
The whisky in the bottle is a blend of sherry-cask-finished whiskies from The Macallan, The Glenrothes, and Highland Park. The whisky is then cut down to a very accessible 80-proof and then bottled in a nicely understated bottle.
Nose: There’s a sweet malt buried under a buttery scone dripping with raspberry jam with a touch of light spice lurking in the background.
Palate: The sherry really kicks in on the palate with big notes of dates soaked in black tea next to creamy caramel, vanilla cake, and a touch of dry raisins.
Finish: The end doesn’t overstay its welcome and leaves you with a lovely note of chocolate-covered cherries with a sweet/dry vibe.
This is the closest you’re going to get to a sipper at this price point. You can pour this over a big glass of rocks and it’ll be pretty tasty (a truly solid B). But you really want to mix this into whisky-forward cocktails or highballs more than anything else.
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When visiting Boston the easiest, most affordable way to get around is the MBTA (Metropolitan Busing and Transit Authority.) Referred to by locals as the “T”, the centerpiece of it is four subway lines and a special bus line with dedicated lanes, the Silver line. The MBTA connects Boston and Cambridge with much of the surrounding Greater Boston Area.
Blue Line: Connects the north shore town of Revere, through East Boston, by Logan International Airport, then to the Aquarium, and finally into Government Center. At Gov’t center you can change from the Blue line to the Green line.
Green Line: From Gov’t center trains go northbound to Cambridge. Heading south of this, there are four branches to the green line – B, C, D, and E trains. They split off onto separate routes.
Red Line: From Park Street it goes north into Cambridge, or south towards several suburban communities.
Orange Line: Connects the north of Boston suburbs Medford, Malden, and Somerville with the downtown, including North Station and the Boston Garden, Downtown Crossing, theater district, Chinatown, Huntington Ave, MFA, all the way to Jamaica Plain.
Silver Line: Rapid bus service line with dedicated lanes to the Seaport District, Airport, South Station transit hub, and Chelsea.
The TD Garden, a massive arena, this is the replacement for the famed Boston Garden.
North Station – This is a major transportation hub – MBTA, Amtrak, located under the TD Garden arena.
The Hub on Causeway – A multi-use development featuring the Big Night Live concert venue, Cinema, Star Market grocery store, restaurants and eateries, hotels and apartments, offices, and the entrance to North Station.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Charles River Esplanade -a beautiful tree filled park, seventeen miles long, along both banks of the Charles River. It extends from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University (BU) Bridge. It is the home of the Hatch Memorial Shell, historical monuments, recreational facilities, playgrounds, hiking and biking paths, boating docks, community boating.
On the Boston side, the Esplanade is isolated from the downtown by Storrow Drive, so one gets to it by walking over one of the pedestrian overpasses. Great for walking, jogging bicycling, boating, picnicking, fishing, kite flying, snowshoeing, and sailing. Famous for the annual fourth of July Fireworks & Boston Pops Concerts at the Hatch Shell. Charles River Canoe and Kayak, in Cambridge, offers season boat rentals.
Boston Public Market – indoor, year-round marketplace featuring New England artisans and food. Next to it, outdoors is the Haymarket, Boston’s oldest open air market.
Quincy Market – Housed in a massive, historic 1824 building. Houses dozens of bakeries, restaurants, and restaurants. Some offer live music. And there’s often live music, juggling, comedy, or other free outdoor performances. This is a long, two story hall, with a central rotunda and eating area.
Faneuil Hall – This historic building has a marketplace and visitor center on the first floor, and on upper floors has a military museum and armory.
Local terminology! Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market are two separate buildings, each with separate establishments. But they are located right next to each other: Bostonians refer to the two as if they are one destination. When we say that “we’re going to Faneuil Hall” (or, Quincy market), we mean that we’re visiting both.
New England Holocaust Museum – Built to pay tribute to the six million Jewish people killed and to honor the survivors. Located on the Freedom Trail, near Faneuil Hall, it offers a unique opportunity for reflection on the importance of human rights.
The New England Aquarium – New England’s largest aquarium, it features three stories of exhibits. The central feature is a three story high central tank, surrounded by a spiraling staircase, that houses many kinds of sea life, including sharks and Moray eels. Don’t miss the Dolphin shows, or the free outdoor seal exhibit.
Boston City Hall and Plaza – Around the City Hall is a large public space where occasional concerts, markets, or seasonal activities, including a beer garden, take place. Government Center MBTA station is located beneath the plaza.
The Rose Kennedy Greenway – A mile long, 17 acre linear park of gardens, promenades, plazas, fountains, art. It goes through Chinatown, Financial District, the Waterfront, up to the North End.
Harborwalk – A near-continuous, 43-mile linear park along Boston’s shoreline. Starting in Charlestown, then to the downtown and North End, across bridges to the Fort Point Channel and Seaport Districts, to Castle Island, and then to Neponset River in Dorchester
The Boston Common and Public Garden
These two, large, side-by-side parks form their own region within Boston. They lie adjacent and south of the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood; the Back Bay is mere feet away to the west, and a few steps to the east lies the Downtown Crossing area.
Established in 1634, the Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America. Also created in 1634 is the Boston Common, the oldest city park in America. These parks are the starting point of the grand Emerald Necklace system of parks that encircle Boston.
During the spring and summer bands play at bandstands, and the Public Garden is planted with dozens of species of colorful plants and bushes. Numerous monuments dot the parks, and in spring and summer people flock to take rides on the world-famous Swan boats of the Public Gardens. The Frog Pond.
Along the northwest side of the Public Gardens lie several commercial establishments, including the Bull & Finch Tavern, the inspiration for the television show “Cheers”. The nearest T station is Park Street, on either the Red or Green lines.
The Boston Common, dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States.
Massachusetts State House Tour, Beacon and Park Street
The Old Granary Burial Ground, The Old State House (now a museum and MBTA stop)
Charles Street, home to chic boutiques and antiques shops.
A major shopping and eating district along Washington Street, including the side streets. Street vendors ply their wares while street musicians play for the entertainment of the shoppers. The main street is blocked off to commercial traffic, so the streets are filled with people.
• Old South Meeting House,
• Millennium Tower includes Primark, with facade of the historic Burnham Building 1911. This used to be Filene’s.
• Macy’s (used to be Jordan Marsh)
• Omni Parker House Hotel and the Last Hurrah bar.
• Roche Brothers, Cafe Nero, Brattle Book Shop, Orpheum Theater
The Theater District
Home of the Schubert Theater and Boston Ballet. There are some plays that play here concurrently with showings in New York’s Broadway district; ticket prices are a bit lower in Boston.
The Back Bay
Museum of Fine Arts – Houses one of the most important collections of classic and modern art in the United States.
In the early part of this century the city hired the firm of Frank Olmstead Law to design an 1,100-acre park – a chain of nine parks linked by pathways and waterways. The result became the famed Emerald Necklace, linking Boston’s Back Bay down through Dorchester. It is anchored in Franklin Park, a partially wooded 500-acre parkland in Jamaica Plain.
This green space hosts some one million visitors each year. One may walk, jog, bike, hike, see the flower gardens; in some places there are opportunities for fishing, sailing, golf or softball.
One of the largest parks here is near Northeastern University, by the MFA – called the Fens, or Fenway. As you can guess from the name, on the other side of the Fens lies Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
• Westin-Copley Place- Entrance into a small shopping all within the hotel building complex. Next, a glass sky bridge leads us to the much larger Copley Place.
• Copley Place – Hotels and a two story mall along a promenade. Then there’s another glass covered walkway that lets you cross over a street into the Prudential Building mall.
• Prudential Center – Large indoor mall and Eataly. Outside are the Duck tours, a great tour for anyone new to the city.
• CLOSED for now – We used to have the Skywalk Observatory and Top of the Hub restaurant, at the top of the Prudential Tower. They were unfortunately closed for many years, but now finally being renovated by Boston Properties. They eventually will have both interior and outdoor observation areas.
• The Boston Public Library – One of the largest and oldest libraries in the country. Book sales are on the first Saturday of each even-numbered month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square. Lower level of the McKim Building, Dartmouth St entrance. Free tours of the BPL’s grand art collection. The walls and ceilings of many halls are a painted with world famous murals. Free art tours. Tours highlight the architecture of Charles McKim and Philip Johnson, as well as the many works of famed sculptors and painters.
• Newbury Street – Known for its dozens of art galleries, fashionable clothing stores, and outdoor cafes. It stretches from The Public Gardens to Massachusetts Ave,
• Berkeley College of Music and the Berkeley Performance Center.
Kenmore Square neighborhood
Walk along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, styled after a grand Parisian boulevard, between Kenmore Square and the Public Garden and see all the monuments and statues as well as the beautiful residences on both sides of the street.
Near the end of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and near the bridges to Seaport District.
South Station – Major transportation hub and a food court.
High Street Place, 100 High Street, which is part of 160 Federal Street , an Art Deco National Historic Landmark. Has 20 restaurants and bars in indoor atrium space. It was created to meander like a Parisian street. Closed on Sundays. https://www.highstreetplace.com/
My Thai Vegan Cafe, 3 Beach St #2. Authentic Chinese food without meat, caters to vegetarians, vegans, and as it happens, to observant Jews and Muslims who want authentic Chinese food in accord with their dietary rules.
Boston National Historical Park includes the Charlestown Navy Yard. In downtown Boston, it includes the Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Paul Revere House and Old North Church.
Charlestown Navy Yard
USS Constitution, USS Cassin Young, Constitution museum, Navy Yard tourist center
A separate city from Boston, it lies just across the Charles River, and can be reached on either the Red or Green line of the MBTA. The population is a bit more liberal and politically active than most, and the city was jokingly nicknamed “The People’s Republic Of Cambridge” during the 1970s. Cambridge is the home of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard Square.
The population of Cambridge reads more books per person, on average, than the population of any other city in the nation. Thus, Harvard Square contains the largest amount of new and used book store in one place in the world! There are a large number of music and clothing stores. There are coffeehouses and ethnic restaurants, and many places offer live music. Street musicians inhabit every corner of the square, playing every kind of music from folk and jazz to rock and roll. It is much like The Village in NYC, though it is a bit smaller and cleaner.
T station: Red Line (Alewife train) – Harvard Square station
Cambridge Galleria – Across the street from the Museum of Science lies the newly built, three story Cambridge Galleria, a grand shopping mall with an enormous open space atrium that reaches over fifty feet high.
Functionally this town acts like part of Boston, and is easily accessible on the Green line. However it is its own autonomous town which borders many of Boston’s neighborhoods: Brighton, Allston, Fenway–Kenmore, Mission Hill, etc. Brookline is a cultural hub for the Jewish community of Greater Boston. This town is also the home of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and has a large Irish community.
Larz Anderson Park and the Larz Anderson Auto Museum – America’s Oldest Car Collection.
They’ve kissed the Blarney Stone and they blessed our lives with the unofficial anthem of Ireland, giving us a guaranteed viral video to share every St. Patrick’s Day. Hey, let’s talk about “Danny Boy“.
Whichever Muppet Show writer had the brilliant idea to pair Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and Animal deserves all of the awards, medals, and cash prizes. It’s simple enough to team up the three gibberish-speaking Muppets, and the fact that they all happen to be fan favorites doesn’t hurt. “Danny Boy” wouldn’t have been the same if they added, say, Mahna Mahna or a Koozebanian. It had to be those three.
I love how the Swedish Chef kicks the song off, singing as if the song originated in his native tongue. There’s a peacefulness to his voice as he sings tenderly and from the heart. He does this strange thing with his hands, as if he’s pushing aside his happy thoughts so he can focus on wishing his son Danny good luck and well wishes as he’s sent off to war.
Animal takes the next verse, and at first we’re expecting an outburst of raw emotion. Why wouldn’t we? Animal is pure id, isn’t he? Not today – he trades in his gruffness for melancholy, casting his eyes downward with a sad acceptance. Fate has befallen Danny and there’s nothing we can do, so Animal tries to think fondly of him as he worries that he may never return home. Oh boy, oh boy indeed.
Beaker brings it home – no longer content with peace or compliance, his voice cries out in anguish! Beaker curses the gods for taking Danny. He has no bandwidth to mourn or hope any longer, but just a pure, unadulterated torment of grief. Not even the gentle moans of the Swedish Chef and Animal can soothe his soul, as the unlikely trio breaks down in tears as the pipes continue to call Danny Boy to his final reward.
Sorry… I think I got a little carried away. That’s what happens when you see this video over and over again every year.
In any case, I’m fascinated by the team-up of the cook, the beast, and the assistant. Even forgetting their speech patterns, it’s like they put together a B-team of Muppets that everyone loves, but can’t quite carry the A-plots usually driven by your Kermits or Piggies or Fozzies Bear. Just imagine if we got a song performed by Rowlf, Scooter, and Floyd – another unlikely grouping, but a guaranteed hit for the fans.
Of course, this isn’t the only time we’ve seen these three chaps together in some combination. Off the top of my head (and off the top of ToughPigs’ friend and Muppet Show expert David Beukema, who helped research this next bit), a few examples include Animal and the Swedish Chef singing “Happy Birthday” to Helen Reddy:
Beaker singing “Feelings”, with an assist by Animal:
A chance meeting from all three in an elevator:
“Ringing of the Bells” from an old Christmas viral video:
Another viral video with the trio singing “Habanera”:
And most recently, a pre-reunion from all three as babies, as seen in the series finale of Muppet Babies:
And that’s just a few examples! So what is it about “Danny Boy” that sticks out as the favorite? Beyond the obvious holiday connection, it’s funnier and more heartfelt than anything else on this page, with genuine surprises and belly laughs that take three simultaneous lightning strikes to get right.
So, why “Danny Boy”? Why not “American Pie” or “The Theme from Bonzanza” or “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”? Could it have been the innately sad nature of the song? The pure randomness of it all? Or just an opportunity for the Henson Workshop to knit tiny green hats and sweaters? Surely it must be a combination of all of the above, as they’ve created a perfect storm of Muppetness that would someday be available to share and watch with a click every year on March 17th.
For as long as the internet exists, I’m sure we’ll be asking ourselves all of these questions and more every year on St. Patrick’s Day. But isn’t that what this holiday is about? Asking for guidance and understanding when all else seems unintelligible, looking for brotherhood and love amongst those who may be different from us?
No? It’s about snakes? Oh. Never mind then.
Click here to kiss the Blarney Stone on the ToughPigs forum!
But wait, you’re saying. The Muppet Show isn’t cancelled. Jim Henson ended the show on his own terms, moving on to work on stuff like Fraggle Rock and Labyrinth. And it definitely isn’t being kept from us, because we can now watch 118 classic episodes right on Disney+ from the comfort of our own living rooms. So how is The Muppet Show cancelled?
Well, before certain episodes, there is a 15-second disclaimer.
This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.
Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe.
So The Muppet Show hasn’t been censored. It hasn’t been cancelled. It’s right here, warts and all. What’s the deal? Well, let’s talk about this.
Is This Censorship?
OK, so first of all, a corporation refusing to show a piece of media to you isn’t censorship. A month ago, when there was no Muppet Show on Disney+, you couldn’t say that Disney had censored The Muppet Show from you. They just didn’t choose to make it available. Really, it’s not even censorship that Disney won’t release Song of the South. They just won’t release their own art, which is allowed. They also haven’t made Teamo Supremo available and no one’s complaining about that.
But even if you disagree with this definition, you have to agree that censorship doesn’t mean “you can watch over 100 full episodes of The Muppet Show except sometimes you first have to look at a disclaimer for 15 seconds.” People burned Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. They didn’t put 15 seconds of white text in front of it.
Why did Disney make a disclaimer? Well, the text says they love diversity. And look, Disney has its major faults, but we do live in a world where Moana, Black Panther, and Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior all exist. Representation is good, folks, and stereotypes are bad. Being exposed to multiple cultures and multiple perspectives leads to more people feeling included, which ultimately leads to better art! And wouldn’t Jim Henson have wanted to educate people about diversity and inclusiveness? The man did a lot of that when he was alive. But if you really have a problem with all that, then sure, take a second and follow the money.
Disclaimers like this exist in part to remove fiscal liability. This disclaimer isn’t new on Disney+. It’s before Aladdin, one of Disney’s biggest financial successes ever, because of its often-negative portrayal of the Middle East. When I watched The Great Mouse Detective, a film where all the characters are singing mice or rats or this one octopus (for some reason), I was briefly warned that the movie features smoking. But in both cases, you can still watch the films. What these kind of disclaimers do is they point out that the company no longer espouses all of the values of the work. This way, no one can blame or boycott Disney for showing kids a mouse who smokes or a land called Agrabah. Disney can make money without worrying about tarnishing its brand’s values. It’s about liability.
Again, the show is still here. This really is no different from when Game of Thrones comes on TV and we’re told that viewer discretion is advised. No company wants to be responsible for people seeing things they don’t want to see, but they also do still want to give you Westeros or Wayne and Wanda.
But What About the Cuts?
It’s true. We’re all griping that the Disney+ upload of The Muppet Show features some cuts. As you’ve probably heard, two episodes (in the US, four episodes in Europe) have been cut entirely and several songs were cut from scattered episodes throughout. Ah-ha, you’re thinking! This is what Donald Trump Jr. means! This is how the Muppets have been cancelled!
Why are these sketches cut? Well, all the songs and one of the episodes have been axed for music rights issues. In other words, you won’t hear Scooter sing “There’s a New Sound,” but it isn’t because Disney wants to keep our vulnerable liberal minds from hearing what noises worms make. It’s because of corporate control of music rights, and the green at the bottom of everything (and no, I don’t mean Robin). Some deals are just too difficult to make in a way that’s cost- or time-effective. We don’t know the specifics and probably never will, but licensing conflicts always come down to corporate control of media. Which is, oddly enough, something you’d think Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News would be big into.
We can’t know for certain why the other episode was cut, but we can be very confident it’s because of its guest star, the exceedingly problematic Chris Langham. I won’t go into details here, (you can read our ToughPigs review for more information), but yes, this is probably an example of something being cut because of extremely unsavory implications. But we’re not talking about “unwoke dialogue.” We’re talking about criminals here. Is this censorship? One could argue it is, but this kind of move is nothing new and certainly not unsurprising. For instance, the episode of The Simpsons that guest-starred Michael Jackson isn’t on Disney+ either.
So again, not too bad.
But What About the Sacred Muppets?
But aren’t the Muppets sacred? If the Muppets aren’t good, what is? If the Muppets need to be censored, then what doesn’t??
First of all, I never realized Donald Trump Jr. was such a big Muppet fan. I don’t believe I ever saw him on the ToughPigs forum but I don’t know, maybe he and I chatted about Bear in the Big Blue House once.
But secondly, Fox News is claiming that they “don’t remember” the Muppets ever being problematic, and are joking that maybe the left will come for Sesame Street next. So let’s talk quickly, because I do remember the Muppets being problematic… to conservatives. In 2011, Fox News rallied against the Muppets’ return to cinemas because of it’s supposed anti-business message. Conservatives were offended by the idea of an evil oil baron named Tex Richman. Groups like One Million Moms fought against The Muppets sitcom for its adult humor.
And don’t even get me started about the Muppets’ “woker” cousins on Sesame Street, who have been the target of conservative ire for decades. I mean, in 2020 alone, conservatives said kids shouldn’t be exposed to Elmo’s daddy explaining protesting, a TV special about standing up to racism, and Billy Porter in a dress.
Why is it that it’s okay to say the Muppets need to edit themselves in these cases, but it’s bad to give people a 15 second disclaimer before an episode that features Spike Milligan giving a Nazi salute?
It’s always weird how this works. Maybe things are only sacred when they support the point you’re trying to make.
And if all these people really thought the Muppets were sacred, maybe they should have showed up and actually supported their film and television productions.
Have the Muppets been cancelled? No.
Is there a brief disclaimer before certain episodes that appears for less time than it takes to watch the unbearably long Marvel Studios logo before WandaVision? Yes.
Did some songs get cut, and does that stink? Yes.
But is that because of the so-called “woke brigade?” No.
So no, the Muppets haven’t been cancelled because they’re offensive. But lightning round: The Jim Henson Hour was cancelled in 1989 because no one liked Lighthouse Island. Muppets Tonight was cancelled in 1996 because no one thought Phil van Neuter was funny. And The Muppets was cancelled in 2016 because Fozzie dated the girl from Garfunkel and Oates.
And that’s that.
Click here to stop listening to Fox News and start listening to the ToughPigs forum!
I know there are quite a few Muppet fans out there who aren’t so big on the films Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. For them, there’s something about watching the crew take on roles that aren’t themselves, to tell an often already well known story, that just doesn’t work.
And yet, one has to agree that episode 506 of The Muppet Show is really a precursor to those films, in which the Muppets and Brooke Shields reenact Alice In Wonderland in 25 minutes. Granted, there are still backstage segments where everyone slips out of character, but the bulk of this episode is focused on Lewis Carroll’s classic story (or rather classic stories, since this episode draws from Wonderland and also Through the Looking Glass).
This episode does feel a bit odd in comparison to so many other Muppet Show episodes, but for a show that, at this point in the run, is on its fifth season, it’s nice to see them still taking risks and trying something new. And overall, I think this episode works wonders.
We get to see the characters take on the roles from this classic tale. Miss Piggy is (unsurprisingly) the Queen of Hearts, with Link Hogthrob as her King of Hearts. For the Mad Tea Party scene we’ve got Gonzo as the Mad Hatter, along with a Chicken as the Dormouse (and I know it’s supposed to just be a random chicken, but the fact that it’s performed by Jerry Nelson did make me go “IS CAMILLA TALKING??” in my rewatch). We’ve also got Floyd Pepper as the Caterpillar, Scooter and Rowlf as characters in the Jabberwocky poem, Statler and Waldorf as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and Marvin Suggs as the Judge.
There are two other roles I’d really love to talk about in this episode. The first, of course, being Fozzie Bear who gets confused about the source material and spends the entire episode dressed as the Tin Woodsman from The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know what it is, but I find something so supremely charming about this mix up and Fozzie’s dedication to the costume. And finally, y’all, we need to talk about Dr. Teeth.
Dr. Teeth’s head on top of a cat’s body is so incredibly alarming if, like me, you forget that that’s part of the episode. It feels like something from a fever dream. I know we get Floyd on a Caterpillar’s body, but it’s the Dr. Teeth one I really can’t get over.
Brooke Shields is the guest star of this episode, portraying Alice in the story, and overall she’s pretty solid – especially when you consider how young she was at the time. There’s a quaintness to her performance, but there’s also a level of simplicity. She seems like she’s having a good time, but also is perhaps just a little stiff. But again, I think for this episode’s purpose she’s a perfect fit.
Since the episode is a retelling of Carroll’s book(s), there isn’t really a segment that stands out from the rest. Instead, the whole episode just stands out as a unit. There are certainly memorable bits – The Mad Tea Party and the ‘Falling Song’ scenes to name a couple – but overall this episode is a cohesive piece of art and it’s impossible to separate segments from one another, especially since there’s so much bleed over (namely Brooke’s size changing from one scene to the next). The Jabberwocky scene might be the most stand out bit of the entire episode, what with the imaginative characters and beautiful Jabberwocky puppet, not to mention the poem which I’ve always found to be cool.
I’ll also note quickly a moment with Piggy, who’s upset she doesn’t get to play the role of Alice. Piggy finds out that Brooke Shields has shrunk and then attempts to “accidentally” hop on Brooke to smoosh her. When you consider that Brooke Shields was a child at the time, it’s a bit more malicious. There’s also the moment at the end of ‘These Are The Yolks’ where Humpty falls off his wall and then proceeds to be trampled by the Kings’ men and a horse. So I guess this is just a trample heavy episode.
All in all, a stand out episode that I’d put up there with the best of The Muppet Show. It gave us a chance to see that the Muppets were capable of taking on a story and making it their own, which would then lead to the creation of several of their later productions.
Best Joke: Fozzie entering the Wonderland episode dressed as a character from Wizard of Oz and then telling Kermit he thought they were doing Peter Pan.
Lamest Joke: “I’m looking for a hole.” “A whole? A whole what?” “I hate smart Alices.”
MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): In an ensemble heavy episode, everyone really pulls their weight. But I’m gonna give it to Fozzie just because I love the idea of everyone agreeing to do a story-centric production and him showing up as a character from an entirely different book.
Most Classic Moment: Everything to do with the main plot of this episode feels like the most classic moment. Brooke Shields in the Alice dress surrounded by Muppets done up like the Wonderland crew feels so quintessentially Henson.
Should-Be-Classic Moment: The ‘Smiling’ medley the Muppets all sing to Fozzie to cheer him up.
First Appearance Of…: A lot of the Wonderland specific characters (the Jabberwocky, the White Rabbit, Humpty Dumpty, the March Hare, etc.) were built specifically for this episode, most of which we’d never see again!
Missed Opportunity: While the idea of making a chicken the Dormouse is funny, I’m surprised they didn’t make Rizzo or another rat the Dormouse instead.
Coolest Puppetry Effect: The use of the green screen in the Falling Song and Jabberwocky are cool. I love the image of the Muppets falling passed Alice, as well as when the Jabberwocky gets beheaded.
Obscure Character Watch: In the Jabberwocky segment, there are giant stilt-legged birds called Borogoves. One of those Borogoves appeared in episodes 509 and 510 as well.
Musical Highlight: Probably the Falling Song, but I want to give an honorary head nod when everyone breaks out into ‘Off To See the Wizard’ near the episode’s end.
One More Thing…: Brooke Shields was only 14 years old when filming this episode, making her the youngest ever Muppet Show guest star!
Okay, One More Thing…: During its entire run, The Muppet Show received twenty-one Emmy nominations. Malcolm Stone, one of the show’s art directors, would receive his second nomination for this episode, in particular for the backdrops based off of the illustrations of John Tenniel’s classic Alice art.
Click here to mix-up Wonderland & Oz on the Tough Pigs forum!
Things in Georgia are a mess right now. Governor Brian Kemp apparently just discovered that people can carry coronavirus and not exhibit symptoms, and a “stay at home order” has just been put in place. That’s all bad but what’s far more pernicious is that the lawmakers in the state say they can’t further delay the May 19th Primary … and refuse to make it more accessible.
Georgia’s primary was already delayed once, and the secretary of state, Brad Raffenspergerm, has said that he lacks the authority under state law to delay it again. Fine. That means the state should pull out all the stops to get out absentee ballots or allow everyone to vote remotely, right?
Oh no. Because that would be bad for Republicans! Every Republican member of Georgia’s congressional delegation has signed on to a letter asking that the primary be delayed, rather than made accessible. This is in contrast to Democrats who want to open it up. But no, Georgia house speaker David Ralston, “said Wednesday that widespread use of absentee-by-mail voting in the primary would hurt Republican candidates,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
These Republicans are admitting that having higher voter turnout, which vote by mail will guarantee, will hurt them. They’re just coming out and saying it now. And they’re echoing the most odious Republican in the land, Donald Trump. On a call into his Fox Friends, Trump all but admitted that more voting and vote by mail will mean doom for him.
Trump, on expanding voting: “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” pic.twitter.com/ly4LYQqmo8
Republicans are in power thanks mainly to a three-pronged strategy of gerrymandering, misinformation and voter suppression. Take away any of those things and the Republicans know that their days are numbered.
One of my favorite trends in book publishing has been comics that explore the lives of important women throughout history. Soon, that will bring us Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World from Knopf Books for Young Readers, featuring the work of contemporary cartoonists to discuss women who have used their voices to help change the world.
Noisemakers is the first ever book from Kazoo, the quarterly, indie print magazine for girls, ages 5 to 12, which Vogue calls ‘the magazine for little girls who want to grow up to be president,’ and Roxane Gay calls ‘kickass.’ Kazoo first made history in 2016 as the highest-funded journalism campaign Kickstarter had ever seen and again in 2019 when it became the first and only kids’ magazine ever to win the prestigious National Magazine Award for General Excellence (2019). ‘What sets Kazoo apart is that we celebrate girls for being smart, strong, fierce and true to themselves, and everything we do supports that mission,’ says Editor-in-Chief and founder Erin Bried. ‘Plus, it’s just really fun to read.’ Contributors have included Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ellen DeGeneres, Misty Copeland, Elizabeth Warren, Dolores Huerta, Shonda Rhimes and many more.
Today, we are happy to share a preview of the upcoming book: the cover and table of contents, as well as an excerpt drawn by Sarah Winifred Searle (Sincerely, Harriet), written by Erin Bried, and covering the accomplishments of Hedy Lamarr, who was not only a Hollywood star but a brilliant inventor—truly, a woman who could do both.
Noisemakers his stores tomorrow, featuring over 200 pages of inspirational storytelling, including:
Mary Shelley by Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters)
Hallie Daggett by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me)
Josephine Baker by Alitha E. Martinez (Black Panther: World of Wakanda)
Julia Child by Lucy Knisley (Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos)
Hedy Lamarr by Sarah Winifred Searle (Sincerely, Harriet)
Jeanne Baret by Lucy Bellwood (Baggywrinkles: a Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea)
Wangari Maathai by Brittney Williams (Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!)
Raye Montague by Yao Xiao (Everything Is Beautiful, And I’m Not Afraid)
Eleanor Roosevelt by Emily Flake (Lulu Eightball)
Bessie Coleman by Shannon Wright (Betty Before X)
Ida Lewis by Rebecca Mock (Compass South)
Rosa Parks by Ashley A. Woods (Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade)
Eugenie Clark by Maris Wicks (Primates)
Mary Anning by Little Corvus (The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York)
Caroline Herschel by Chan Chau (Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Sirens)
Emily Warren Roebling by Kiku Hughes (Displacement)
Madam C. J. Walker by K. L. Ricks (Naima)
Annie Londonderry by Kat Leyh (Lumberjanes)
Maria Tallchief by Weshoyot Alvitre (Alice Sixkiller)
Junko Tabei by MariNaomi (Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories)
Frida Kahlo by Naomi Franquiz (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl)
Maya Angelou by Shauna J. Grant (Princess Love Pon)
Kate Warne by Molly Brooks (Sanity & Tallulah)
Nelly Bly by Jackie Roche (Escape from Syria)
Mother Jones by Sophie Goldstein (House of Women)
We’re saddened to learn that founding member of Monty Python and British comedy legend Terry Jones has sadly passed away. You’ve seen him in dozens of roles in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, and of course, Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
But that’s not all – Terry Jones was instrumental in the classic Jim Henson film Labyrinth. Jones wrote the screenplay for the movie, working closely with Jim Henson and providing most of the humor you see in the film today. He also co-wrote the book “The Goblins of Labyrinth” with Brian Froud.
Here’s Terry Jones himself to talk about his work on Labyrinth:
The comedy world lost a legend today, and we’re proud to remember Terry Jones as an important player in Muppet history, and that Labyrinth wouldn’t be anywhere near as wonderful without his contribution.
Click here to help us remember Terry Jones on the ToughPigs forum!