Monday, June 4, 2012

Random Muppet #1: The Last Male Glig

On the Muppet Wiki, a great source for everything Henson, there exists an intriguing button at the top of each page labeled "Random Muppet."  Clicking it will randomly send you to one of the thousands of Muppet character pages on the site.  I have always been curious to push it, but fear of the unknown has held me back.  Now that I have covered most of the signature Muppet characters, I feel it is safe to press the button.

One week a month will be "Random Muppet Week."  My self-imposed challenge is to cover whichever character comes up, no matter how obscure or pointless.  No, I am not out of ideas for posts.  This is a feature I've wanted to do since Day 1.  I will not cover Muppets that I feel I have adequately covered in the past, nor will I cover Muppets that I have specifically planned posts for.  This still leaves plenty to choose from.

So, here is my first spin at the Random Muppet roulette.

Random Muppet #1: The Last Male Glig

He's the bug-eyed little guy pictured in the center.

Performer: Frank Oz

Muppet Universe of Origin: The Land of Gorch

Most Significant Appearance: Saturday Night Live, November 8, 1975, "Candice Bergen"

It was the fourth episode of SNL, so the Muppets had yet to wear out their welcome and the sketches hadn't yet become self-depricating and self-referential.  The actual Land of Gorch was still in it's introductory stages, and this sketch focused on a bit of world building.  The conflict of the day concerned the possible extinction of the Glig species.

King Ploobis has been treating his mistress Vazh to a meal of Gligs, his favorite food.  Vazh points out that there are only two Gligs left in the world, so he had better choose his actions wisely.  Not one to see the big picture, Vazh suggests they eat them or turn them into a hat.  But Ploobis understands that something must be done before he permanently destroys this wonderful species.  Although, everyone is coming to this realization awfully late.

Ploobis's wife Peuta returns, showing off the new Gligskin shoes she just purchased.

Don't worry, those aren't the last Gligs.

It finally all hits Ploobis that they have been recklessly killing Gligs for food and clothing without considering the long term effects.  He calls upon Scred for assistance and he suggests placing them in a museum.  Not happy with that solution, he decides it is time to consort with the Mighty Favog.

The Mighty Favog, in exchange for his wisdom, requires a sacrifices of two chickens and one Glig.  And here is where things get weird.  First, in this strange Land of Gorch, we have both Gligs and chickens.  Why have one actual animal thrown in with the fake animal?  It is never addressed.  But we must assume that not only do Gligs taste better than chickens, they can also make some fashionable accessories and clothing.  So, you would think that they would be more reptilian than bird-like.  But then, Scred catches a Glig and we see very clearly that it's a bird.

Okay, so you're thinking that's the joke.  They try to save the species and end up sacrificing it.  Haha, good laugh.  But the sketch continues.  After explaining the situation to Favog, Favog releases the Glig so that it can procreate with a female.  That's good for the Glig, but a weak, non-funny way to end the sketch.

When the Glig resurfaces, we have a neat moment where Frank Oz is performing two puppets live (since he is also Favog).  The Glig shouts for his mate Bernice, and the two runoff to make lots of babies, thus saving the endangered species.

Why Is He the Best Muppet?

The last male Glig was placed in an existential situation that has enlightened him unlike any Muppet before him.  He was just minding his own business, noticing that things seemed awful quiet and lonely lately.  Then he gets captured and nearly killed and during this process he overhears that he and his partner are the last of their kind.  If that doesn't put perspective on your life, I don't know what does.

With a renewed sense of vigor, he rushes to the woman he loves, a woman he has probably been ignoring lately and taking for granted, and realizing that they must begin a new era, lest their species perish, forever immortalized as handbags and scarfs.  This is a man who has seen the future and has become the controller of his own destiny.

This story would play out again in the later special "The Song of the Cloud Forest," but in that case, Milton was meek and required the assistance of his animal friends and human intervention.  This Glig was truly alone in a world that wants nothing more than to see him dead.

He is a survivor.  He is a hero.  He is a Glig.

His descendants would later learn to co-exist peacefully with their predators.

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