Saturday, March 2, 2013

Random Muppet #32: Tula the Hoob

On the Muppet Wiki, there is a "Random Muppet" button which sends you to the page of one of the thousands of Muppets in existence. I will press the button and discuss the importance of the Muppet that comes up, no matter how obscure. No skips. No redos. This is the Random Muppet Challenge.

Random Muppet #32: Tula the Hoob

An inquisitive, British alien.

Performer:  Julie Westwood

Muppet Universe of Origin:  The Hoobs

Most Significant Appearance:  The Hoobs, 2001, "Smells"

The Hoobs are alien creatures that travel around the Earth in their Hoobmobile, learning about "peeps" and their offspring, the "tiddlypeeps."  All data is gathered into the Hoobepedia.  The show promotes scientific discovery, so whenever a Hoob asks a question, the Motorettes that operate the Hoobmobile sing their question (The Five W's and How) to keep the vehicle moving.  Like the Smurfs, the Hoob language employs many variations of the word "Hoob" in place of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  If you are not careful, you can find this show highly annoying.

But they're so adorably British that you can easily forgive them.

In "Smells," Tula laments that she doesn't smell nice enough for an up coming tiddlypeep party.  She isn't sure what smells that tiddlypeeps enjoy, but she knows that it must be something better than her boring old Hoob odor.

The Hoobs decide that cheese has such a strong fragrance that it would make an excellent perfume.  But the Earth children teach Tula the error of her ways and introduce her to proper, pleasant smells.

Why Is She the Most Important Muppet?

The Hoobs has one big issue.  It's too derivative compared to other Henson children's shows.  Sesame Street was groundbreaking in that it made the pre-school curriculum a part of its world.  It manages to combine real-life with basic concepts in a way that didn't talk down to its audience.  Fraggle Rock focused on society, interpersonal relationships and self-worth.  And Bear in the Big Blue House brought exactly what pre-pre-schoolers needed with characters that babies/toddlers could identify with, being nurtured by the parental Bear.

The Hoobs just feels like any other kids show.  It's not terrible, by any means.  But nothing sets it apart from other shows.  It's a hodge-podge of elements we have seen before.

A supernatural educational vehicle?  Seen it.

The only thing that can save the show are the characters.  The three leads are the dim-witted Groove, campy Iver, and Tula the girl.  I'm ashamed to admit it, but Tula is the least developed member of the show.  In the many, many clips available to view, only "Smells" features her as a main role in the story.  And what we learn is that she is concerned with the way she smells.  (Another clip features her concern over her hair.)

Now, she is very intelligent and polite, so she has redeeming qualities.  But what makes her tick?  At least characters like Zoe and Abby Cadabby, who are attacked for being "too girly," have depth and personality quirks.  Even her bland travel mates manage to overshadow her.  In one episode, Groove is upset about something and the mystery of the day is about what's making him so depressed.  That's intriguing!   Tula's issues over perfume and hair care are just disconcerting.

So, why is Tula the most important Muppet?  Well, it's like the interesting number paradox.  If there are  any "non-interesting numbers," then one would have to be the lowest-valued non-interesting number.  And that would make that number interesting, disqualifying it from the non-interesting number list.

Tula is the lowest-valued non-interesting Muppet.  And that's what makes her so important.

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