‘Muppet Babies’ Review: The Hellscape Of The Muppet Baby Mind

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“Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Dark?” is episode 2 of the first season of the Muppet Babies cartoon.  Let me start by noting the obvious: The Muppet Babies are pretty messed up, man.

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Their imaginations are so active that their fantasies often overtake reality. However, they all have heart, and are always snapped back into reality through a previously hidden moral. This moral is often divvied out by the towering, essentially faceless and weird sock-wearing Nanny.

In the beginning of “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Dark,” we see Gonzo in elaborate fantasies about driving an army tank, and Fozzie is booed by his own imaginary audience after telling a lousy joke. Both are sad ideas, and not without disturbing psychological implications.

In Gonzo’s case, it suggests an individual — and possibly a society — fascinated by the man made machinery of death, seeing the weapons of war as mere playthings, without regarding the grave consequences of their real-world use and development. And Fozzie is just a tragic example of a bear hibernating while awake; walking the earth telling pathetic jokes in a stupor, and believing his stupor qualifies as humor.  His sadness is readily apparent.

Beaker seeks the counsel of his fellow Muppet Babies. Can they assuage his fears? (Photo: CBS/Claster Television)

The Muppet Babies are usually just Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, Scooter and Skeeter. However, every once in a while they are joined by other characters, such as Bunsen and Beaker. The first time we meet these additional characters, Bunsen is terrified of the dark. The fear is so severe that Bunsen and Beaker haven’t slept in 3 days(!).

Beaker is literally afraid of monsters behind all shadows, and demands lights on everywhere he goes. Beaker’s shrill, panicked tones heighten the other Muppet’s fears, and help draw them into his fantasies.Instead of being haunted by Freddy Krueger or mounting debt problems, the young Beaker’s fears take the shape of an almost anonymous slime creature.

The slime is now! (Photo: CBS/Claster)

All of the Muppet Babes are stalked by this hulking maniac before very long, even though the creature has no discernible context. It is just there — an amorphous slime beast hellbent on Muppet destruction.

Cognizant of how brain power may conquer the creature, the gang explains positive aspects of the dark to Beaker, such as trick or treating. However, in the fantasy sequence, the overtly menacing slime monster answers the door to the imaginary house they visit, transforming the delight of trick or treating into a horrifying ordeal. The slime monster’s massive mouth is opened wide enough to consume those little Muppet Babies whole.

They would be raw, uncooked, and almost unimaginably hideous after being crushed and chewed by the beast’s powerful jaws. I could imagine Muppet blood dripping from the slime monster’s chin, which means the creature haunts me as well.  This demise may be rendered all the more painful by the slime monster’s relative lack of teeth.