Wednesday, November 26, 2014

T Is for Thog

Here's another favorite of mine who doesn't get noticed too much. Thog is one of the tall, full-body Muppet monsters, like Sweetums and Timmy Monster. He first appeared in the 1970 TV special The Great Santa Claus Switch, where he was an evil henchman.

I'm not sure what it is about him that makes me like him so much, but I think it's his sad face and eyes. I just want to give him a cookie and ask him about his day. Because of this aspect of the character, Jerry Nelson generally performed him as friendly and gentle, and he ended up in a lot of numbers where he danced with leading ladies. Even though he is 9 and 1/2 feet tall, he's surprisingly graceful.

In 1971, Thog appeared live on stage in Nancy Sinatra's Vegas stage show. It was actually one of several Muppet acts that Nancy incorporated into her stage show. Gosh, the Muppets really used to have a much larger entertainment presence than they do now.

Thog's next leading lady was Julie Andrews. The Muppets appeared pretty frequently on her 1973-1974 variety series The Julie Andrews Hour, and in one segment Thog and Julie danced and sang "Oh Babe What Would You Say," a song written by producer Norman Smith (which he released as a single under his stage name, Hurricane Smith). Sadly, I can't find a video of this.

(Julie, by the way, was obviously a fan of the Muppets--after The Julie Andrews Hour, she did another four network variety specials where the Muppets appeared, including Julie on Sesame Street, and guest starred on a second season episode of The Muppet Show).

Thog next romanced Mia Farrow on The Muppets Valentine Show, which aired in 1974 and was one of the two pilots for The Muppet Show. Someone has put the entire episode on YouTube. At 10:36, Mia gives Thog his first kiss, and they perform the Cy Coleman-Carolyn Leigh song "Real Live Girl" from the musical Little Me. It's quite sweet.

Thog made regular appearances on The Muppet Show, usually getting a little showcase once or twice a season.

Here he is on the first season, reprising "Oh Babe What Would You Say" with Kaye Ballard:

And here's a very cute second season segment where Bernadette Peters teaches Thog (with Sweetums and Timmy Monster) to dance to the tune of Vincent Youmans' "Take a Little One Step":

In his time on The Muppet Show, Thog also performed with Loretta Swit, Harvey Korman, Alice Cooper and James Coco.

Sadly, after that amazing crowd shot at the end of The Muppet Movie (which featured every Muppet in existence at the time), Thog was never seen again until 2011's The Muppets and this year's Muppets Most Wanted, where he appears in several crowd scenes.

He has yet to have another prominent role, or another leading lady, but maybe one day Thog will get to dance and romance again. It's important to me to see big monsters who are really gentle and worthy of love. I just always like this guy, and he's one of the many, many things that makes the Muppets special to me.

ABC Wednesday


Roger Owen Green said...

Andre Previn, Frank Sinatra, Woody Allen and and Thog. What do they have in common? Romances with Mia Farrow.
(Sorry - i'm just punchy...)

Reader Wil said...

Lovely videos. Thank you. My toadstools seem to inspire many bloggers to writing nice comments. Thanks also for yours.
Wil, ABCW Team

aspiritofsimplicity said...

Well, I've never heard of him before and I've been a fan of the muppets a good long time now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Trubes said...

Thog thinging a thong...
I must confess too that I have never heard of him but enjoyed the vid clips, he is kind of cute though.
I enjoy your weekly visits to Sesame St and the Muppets brings back some good memories of when our three girls were little,
Great stuff,
Thank you,
Best wishes,
ABCW team.