The Frog Prince

Melora tries to tell her dad the truth.

Melora tries to tell her dad the truth.

What this means is that it’s perfectly easy for us as audience members to understand her but her father and others remain completely flummoxed. In a particularly funny bit, the king laments that they don’t know who cursed her. Melora desperately cries, “Tant Aminella! Tant Aminella!” But the king has no idea what she means, immediately afterwards asking, “Have you seen your Aunt Taminella around?” I also particularly love when the king informs her that later that very day, he’ll be passing the crown over to her, because it’s her 19th birthday, and she joyfully cries, “I want to quee the bean!” And her father responds, “My dear, if it were up to me, you could quee all the beans you wanted to.”


But anyway, the special never explains exactly why Robin can understand her–especially because he initially doesn’t–but I’m guessing that it either has something to do with them both having been cursed by the same witch or it’s meant as a sign of just how awesome and heroic a prince he is (as his cleverly lyriced song says, “They call me Sir Robin the Brave/and history one day will rave!/I’m valiant and daring and noble of bearing/Courageous and gallant, a mountain of talent!”), and while he may not follow her right away, it might just be due to having needed a few moments to acclimate. Regardless, the fact that he understands her words as well as believes her about Taminella being an evil witch, and even seems to share a similar sense of sadness as her–even though she doesn’t know why–provides a real reason for her to feel close to him and to eventually want to kiss him. 


The script is also extremely clever in giving Melora one phrase that actually is too difficult either for Robin or even us to parse right away. The key to both breaking the spell on her and destroying Taminella’s power all together is to “Bake the hall in the candle of her brain”. This is a slight cheat, because instead of just flipping the letters of the nearest two words around, it jumbles them all together, but it’s also forgivable because it makes sense that Taminella’s spell would go out of its way to protect the witch by making it more difficult for Melora to reveal something that could actually destroy her. The answer actually is “Break the ball in the handle of her cane,” and it takes until nearly the very end for Robin to figure out, adding an additional layer of suspense and mystery to the story.


Kermit observes The Kiss.

Kermit observes The Kiss.

And the special even does a fairly good job of having Robin technically be the one to break the spell, by biting Taminella’s hand at just the right time so that her cane drops and the ball shatters, while not relegating Melora to a damsel role nor robbing her of her agency and power. While one might wonder why Melora couldn’t herself break the ball earlier, the fact that Robin and Kermit have to enlist all of their froggy friends to bounce all over Taminella, attacking and thereby distracting her, implies that under normal circumstances, actually getting to Tammy’s cane while she’s in her full faculties would be extremely difficult, and furthermore, Melora doesn’t sit passively by while the frogs do all of the work. She actually goes up to the currently-harried witch and shoves her beloved ball into the crone’s mouth to keep her from uttering a spell to hurt the frogs, in the process giving Robin the split-second he needs to destroy Taminella’s magic.


And in the very end, Melora still needs to rescue Robin. When Tammy first enchanted him in the opening flashback, she told Sweetums that it was the nature of that particular curse that even she couldn’t break the spell. Only a kiss from a princess who had befriended him and taken her into her home could do that. So, although Taminella’s defeat (she even seems to melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West, then revealing herself to have been transformed into a crow, cawing and flying away) restores Melora’s proper speech, Robin still requires a kiss to become Sir Robin once more (And as with every curse transformation at the end of every Disney movie that has one, it’s a bit of a letdown. Human Sir Robin certainly has the floofiest hair in all the land, but not nearly as likeable a personality as frog Robin. Also, as I alluded to before, it’s strange to suddenly have a grown man standing there who was essentially a cute little kid frog a moment before, and the notes he has to sing in the final song are a little too high for him, which does him no favors.).


The Frog Prince is also just chock full of amazing moments and elements, some of which include:


Kermit and the frogs educate Robin.

Kermit and the frogs educate Robin.

–The fact that all of Kermit’s frog friends are named after various knights of Arthurian Legend: Ector, Kay, Gawain, and Garth (for Gareth), which makes their not believing Robin’s initial assertions that he’s a knight himself even funnier.


–Although Robin looks like a frog, he doesn’t actually know how to act like one. Most significantly, he can’t swim, leading to numerous funny moments of him attempting to do so but dog-paddling instead. “A frog,” Kermit proudly declares, “does not dog-paddle!” And yet that’s what he does, even when swimming all the way down to the bottom of lake for the ball. Speaking of which, when he first agrees to do so, Kermit pulls him aside to remind him of his trouble swimming. Robin was so lovestruck, he’d forgotten! But he commits to doing so regardless. “If I go back on my word, it’ll be unprincely!” he says. Kermit replies, “And if you drown, it’ll be unfrogly!”


–How Featherstone directs the throngs of Muppet subjects in how to respond to each of King Rupert’s declarations. After each, Featherstone says things such as “Large cheer!,” “Friendly applause,” “Polite chuckle…building to riotous laughter,” and they all react accordingly.


–Kermit and his back-up frogs’ fantastic number, extolling the virtues of the life of a frog.


–Taminella’s amazing Renaissance court garb.


–And even more so, how she conned her way there in the first place, which we learn in a brilliant flashback in which she runs into the king in the woods and soon realizes how gullible he is. So she pretends that she’s his long-lost sister, and when he tells her that he needs proof, she says, “What was the name of your father?” “King Rupert I.” “So was mine!” He calls out, “Sister!,” she responds, “Brother!,” and the two tearfully embrace! This, by the way, is why she ended up cursing the much-smarter-than-her-dad Melora in the first place, so she wouldn’t reveal the truth.


–Her feigning innocence is also hilarious, such as when Rupert again asks who could’ve placed the curse, Melora points directly at Taminella, and he foolishly assumes that she means that Taminella might know who did it. “I don’t have any idea, but I’ll ask around!” she “helpfully” offers.


–In one of my favorite moments, whenever Robin tries to translate Melora’s words to the king, Taminella stuffs a popover in his mouth. “Have a popover, froggy!” she cackles each time. Later on, when Taminella says they can’t just allow the frog to hop around the castle, clueless Rupert responds, “I should say not. For one thing, he eats all the popovers!”


"Aunt" Taminella and Robin

“Aunt” Taminella and Robin

–The aforementioned scene in which Robin keeps singing Sweetums to sleep so that he won’t attempt to eat him until morning–the lullaby’s lyrics include the tender lines, “Sweetums, lay your ugly head/Down upon your wreched bed…Sweetums is so sweet and cute/Go to sleep, you stupid brute”


–Kermit pretending to be Taminella, ordering him to unlock Robin’s cage, and later on, Sweetums’ rock song when he finally wakes up and attempts to bash Robin with his club, eventually knocking down all of the room’s columns, which fall down on him, knocking him unconscious!


–The end, in which Sweetums sings joyfully about Melora’s coronation and Taminella’s defeat, which perhaps implies that she’d placed a spell on this kind ogre, as well, to make him follow her!


–The fact that, in the very end, Queen Melora and Prince Robin name their new baby boy, Kermit. “Now, that’s what I call a happy ending,” our favorite frog says. “After all, it’s not every frog that has a prince named after him!” And cool trivia alert: this new baby “prince” is actually played by the recently born Heather Henson!


And you can watch this incredible special here! Please come back next Tuesday, whenI take a look at Sesame Street‘s third season premiere!

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