The Frog Prince (released on home video as Tales from Muppetland: The Frog Prince) is a 1971 television special directed by Jim Henson. It is a retelling of the classic fairy tale of The Frog Prince featuring Kermit the Frog as the narrator, Kermit's nephew Robin as the titular Frog Prince and Sweetums, among others. This television special marked the debut of both Robin and Sweetums to the world of The Muppets. Also, a full-bodied version of Taminella Grinderfall from the Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Land of Tinkerdee pilots appeared here alongside a full-bodied look-a-like of King Goshposh called King Rupert the Second.
The Frog Prince is often claimed to be the first time that Kermit was specifically identified as a frog. However, the distinction actually dates back as far as 1968, even before his appearances on Sesame Street.
The special opens with Kermit and several other frogs sitting around a well, when a small frog that they do not recognize appears. The frog introduces himself as Sir Robin the Brave, explaining that he is actually a prince. He recounts, in flashback, how he once fought an ogre named Sweetums and was transformed into a frog by Sweetums' master, the villainous witch Taminella Grinderfall. Taminella intended to give Robin to Sweetums as his breakfast, but Robin hopped away before they could catch him. The other frogs laughingly dismiss Robin's story as a fairy tale; Kermit is more sympathetic, though he himself does not fully believe Robin. Robin reveals to Kermit that he cannot swim, so Kermit gives him swimming lessons. Nearby, they hear King Rupert the Second proclaiming that he will be stepping down as king that evening and that his daughter, Princess Melora (who is turning nineteen that day), will be crowned queen. Robin is overjoyed, as he must be kissed by a princess in order to be returned to human form.
The princess later comes to the well and Robin learns that she is under an enchantment that prevents anyone from understanding what she says (her speech consists mostly of spoonerisms). As she sits by the well, singing to herself, she accidentally drops her golden ball in the water. Robin offers to retrieve it for her if she will befriend him and take him to the palace (two conditions that must be met before she can kiss Robin). Though initially reluctant, Melora agrees and Robin succeeds in fetching the ball, despite his limited swimming skills. Melora puts him in her basket to take him back to the palace, but before they leave, Robin learns that Taminella is also at the palace, posing as the king's sister. Robin reveals Taminella's identity to Kermit, who follows him to the palace to keep an eye on him.
At the palace, it is revealed that Taminella placed the enchantment on Melora so that she could not tell anyone of Taminella's true identity. Robin asks Melora to kiss him, saying he will turn into a prince. She does not believe him, but in an effort to befriend her, he points out that he can understand her jumbled speech. They sing a duet of the song that Melora had been singing at the well, but before they can kiss, Taminella catches them. Recognizing Robin, she vows to feed him to Sweetums before being summoned to speak with the king about the upcoming coronation. Melora tells Robin the only way to destroy Taminella's power is to "bake the hall in the candle of her brain," which Robin does not understand. As Melora and Taminella leave for lunch, Robin asks Melora to kiss him good-bye; Taminella suggests she bring Robin with them instead.
At lunch, Taminella announces that she and King Rupert have decided that Taminella shall be crowned queen, as Melora cannot be understood. Melora frantically tries to tell her father the truth about Taminella, but he does not understand her mixed-up speech. Robin also tries to tell the king the truth, but Taminella silences him by stuffing his mouth with popovers. Unable to get through to her father, Melora storms out, leaving Robin behind. Taminella puts Robin in a cage and takes him to Sweetums' lair.
Robin lulls Sweetums to sleep with a lullaby and Kermit (who had followed Robin into the lair) tries to free Robin. Unsuccessful, he pretends to be Taminella and tricks Sweetums into freeing Robin himself (while sleepwalking). Sweetums then wakes up, realizing that he was tricked and intent on eating Robin. He chases Kermit and Robin around his lair, smashing furniture to pieces with his club in the process, until a falling pillar knocks him unconscious.
Kermit and Robin escape, but learn that the coronation is starting. Robin tells Kermit to go back to the swamp and summon the other frogs while he tries to figure out what "bake the hall in the candle of her brain" means. Kermit and the frogs return just before Taminella is to be crowned and help Robin disrupt the coronation. Amidst the chaos of the hopping frogs, Melora yells out "The candle of her hane!", causing Robin to realize that "bake the hall in the candle of her brain" really means "break the ball in the handle of her cane." He bites Taminella on the arm, causing her to drop her cane and shatter the glass ball in its handle. Taminella's power destroyed, she collapses and turns into a bird, which flies off. Melora's enchantment is broken and she tells the truth to her dumbfounded father. She expresses her thanks to the frogs, particularly Robin, whom she kisses in gratitude. Robin turns back into a prince, to everyone's amazement, and professes his love for Melora. The king, still confused but not wanting to spoil the happy ending, crowns Melora queen; everyone sings in celebration.
Back at the well, Kermit reveals that Robin and Melora were eventually married and that he still sees them often. They then appear with their infant son, whom they have named after Kermit. Kermit leaps into the well and swims around, humming Melora's song from earlier as the credits roll.
- Later syndicated alongside The Muppet Show.
- A number of characters in this special were performed and voiced by separate performers. Jerry Nelson voiced Robin but Frank Oz provided the puppetry, Carl Banas provided the voice of Sweetums while Jerry Nelson was inside the character, and Jerry Juhl performed the voice of Taminella while Richard Hunt performed the puppetry.
- The special was taped in Toronto from March 22 to April 1, 1971.
- "Bein' Green" can be heard underscored during the luncheon sequence.
- Trudy Young as Princess Melora
- Gordon Thomson as Sir Robin the Brave
- Carl Banas as Sweetums (voice)
- Heather Henson as Baby Prince Kermit
- Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Garth, King Rupert the Second
- Frank Oz as Gawain, Robin the Frog (puppetry)
- Jerry Nelson as Robin the Frog, Featherstone, Sweetums (puppetry)
- Richard Hunt as Taminella Grinderfall (puppetry)
- Jerry Juhl as Kay the Frog, Taminella Grinderfall (voice)
- The Frog Prince
- Executive Producer: John T. Ross
- Producer and Director: Jim Henson
- Book & Lyrics: Jerry Juhl
- Music: Joe Raposo
- Set Designer: William Beeton
- Associate Producer: Marilyn Stonehouse
- Muppet Associate Producer: Diana Birkenfield
- Cast: Trudy Young, Gordon Thomson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Carl Banas, Richard Hunt, John Lovelady, Daniel Seagren
- Puppet Supervision: Donald Sahlin
- Set Decoration: Stephen Finnie
- Costume Designer: Lorely Fritze
- Puppet Costumes: Bonnie Lewis, Caroly Wilcox, Kermit Love
- Special Effects: George Clark
- Lighting Director: Tom Wright
- Technical Supervisor: Alvin Clausen
- Floor Director: Al O'Mailley
- Switcher: Brian Mitchell
- Audio Recording: Chris Skene
- Video Tape Editors: Frank Lorenowicz and Dino Digregorio
- Technical Facilities: VTR Productions LTD.
- Design Services: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- A R.L.P. Canada/Henson Associates Production
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