The Muppets (So Far)

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I’ve talked about my love for The Muppets so many times that you’re probably all bored sick of it, but I’ve yet to talk about The Muppets, the new show on ABC. I love it (mostly).

Yeah, that’s not a surprise given my muppet love, but let me explain why:

The Muppets have always been a mix of slapstick, puns, and adult humor (there’s no better way to explain my humor as well, but that’s my own problem). Like Looney Tunes, if you look at the old shows as an adult, you see jokes that went right over your head as a kid. This show different.

In The Muppets, they dropped a lot of the puns and easy jokes and went for more (relatively) sophisticated, character-driven humor. It was unexpected, and I think it turned off a lot of fans. It wasn’t set-up, punch line, exploding fish anymore.

In a sense, they’re not “puppets” anymore. They’re characters with real problems and character flaws, not empty joke vehicles. They’ve always been one or two dimensional before: Piggy as the aggressive egomaniac, Fozzy is a hapless comic, Gonzo is the love-stricken weirdo, and Kermit was the hero keeping everyone together. The personalities are still the same, but much more complex.

It’s the flaws that are most striking now. Kermit is very manipulative, and at points I cringed at how he handles Piggy. If I have one problem with the show, it’s Kermit’s use of psychological control. Piggy is an unreasonable diva that terrorizes the staff. Fozzy is the engineer of his own downfall. He’s a furry George Costanza.

fozzy embarassed

Now it’s the bit players that really carry the show. Pepe, Rizzo and Yolanda are hilarious (and I love how all Muppet rats have old timey NYC accents). The Electric Mayhem is exactly what we always imagined them to be: recovering drug-addled road warriors. Bobo is the everyman (bear) that’s easy to relate to. And Gonzo…it broke my heart to see Gonzo’s online dating experiment go awry. From one weirdo to another, I feel ya, bro. Keep at the online dating, there’s a weirdo out there for everyone.

Oh, and how great is Sam the Eagle’s crush on Janis!

sam the eagle

But I do have some advice for the show’s writers:

  1. have Kermit solve problems without underhandedness: Kermit was one of the few three-dimensional characters before the show. We know who he is, don’t stray from that. He’s allowed to have flaws, but being dishonest is very out of character.
  2. Keep mining the secondary characters: There are so many Muppets. I want to learn more about them. They’ve done a great job of adding depth to them so far. Keep at it.
  3. More music: It’s not the Muppets without music, and Piggy is starring in a late-night talk show.
  4. Keep adding depth to Piggy. It’s ok to have Piggy as the antagonist, but she’s still beloved. Give us something to empathize with.

Other than that, I think the show is on the right track. I hope that it gets renewed, because it’s one of the only shows that I watch.

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The Muppet Show Returns! Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!

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I have read from many different sources that ABC is planning a return of The Muppet Show. What have I done that the TV Gods are rewarding me so!? This is incredible news, the kid in me (who’s not very different from the grown up in me) is doing cartwheels. This is bigger news that Dom Deluise telling Kermit that he should go to Hollywood (Holllllleeeeewood)

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!

I. Love. Muppets. I loved The Muppet Show. I loved Sesame Street. I loved Fraggle Rock. I can quote The Muppet Movie until someone slaps me. Jim Henson was my childhood god.

For you Millennials, let me explain: The Muppet Show was a variety show, with Kermit the Frog as host, and starring Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rowlf, Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and a cast of hundreds of furry creatures. Each week, they had a celebrity as a guest star. I suppose it’s format was a bit like Saturday Night Live, but an equal amount of the show happened backstage and dealt with the chaos of “live theater.”

It was crazy. It was ridiculous. It was silly.

It was the greatest thing ever.

By the way, you can find a lot of old episodes on YouTube.

Here’s my favorite song from the show. Harry Belafonte singing Turn the World Around. It’s beautiful.

But I wonder if the new generation will get it. Times have changed, and while the Muppets seem to have a following among some kids and teens, is it enough to make it work? It didn’t work with the reboot Muppets Tonight. They might have to drastically change the format (and according to Vanity Fair, they are) though I hope not too much.

Either way, I’m watching. I bleed brightly colored fake fur…um I guess to fit the metaphor, I’d have to bleed hand. Does that make any sense?

It doesn’t have to make sense. IT’S THE FREAKING MUPPETS!!!!

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