Muppet Babies: Time to Play! (DVD)

Thirty years after the Muppet Babies made their cinematic debut, it’s been hard to imagine the Muppet franchise without them. They’ve become as big a fixture as their adult counterparts, and other properties have tried mimicking them to a lesser degree. “Baby Looney Tunes,” anyone? Remember “Tom and Jerry Kids” and “Flintstones Kids”? In either case, now with the eighties series in limbo, Disney Junior has revived the property for a new audience offering an educational adventure series with the Muppet Babies, and it’s a nice revamp.

“Muppet Babies” even features a remix of the original theme song and we follow baby Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Animal, along with their friend Summer Penguin, as they get in to all sorts of peril around their daycare center. Much like the original eighties series, they kids are watched over by “Nanny” (the always good Jenny Slate), a nice woman whose rainbow stocking covered legs we only see for the majority of the show. She’s the moral center who teaches the kids, and when left to their own devices, simple deeds and tasks become magic adventures filled with imagination, comedy, and some education along the way. While I very much miss Rowlph the Dog, and Skeeter and Scooter, Summer the Penguin thankfully isn’t a cloying new addition. She’s there to up the girl quotient, no doubt, but she works well with the Muppet Babies, even bringing her own brand of comedy and imagination to the table.

The series has its own light sense of adventure and fun with some neat touches, including throwbacks to the original show, and some solid computer animation. It should serve as fun for any toddler. The DVD “Time to Play!” comes with five whole episodes with two segments, and two bonus episodes. There are also ten “Muppet Babies: Show & Tell” shorts, which profiles the characters of the show, as well as six music videos including “Muppet Pirate Shanty,” and “What’s So Scary About the Dark?”

So since Disney now owns “Star Wars” and “The Muppets,” how about the long overdue release of the complete series of the 1984 “Muppet Babies” animated series, already?