Here, There be a Writer

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Muppets (TV): a look into the Modern

Do not own this picture. Used under Fair Use.
Did you ever stop to think that The Muppets would be back on Prime Time television?

I didn't.

~May contain spoilers and personal opinions~

The Muppets is the newest incarnation of the Muppets in the media. It was NOT what I was expecting either. I guess I am a bit of the classical Muppets gal and hoping for something like the regular variety type style Muppet Show, or even Muppets Tonight.

"The characters in The Office and Parks & Rec were always kind of Muppety, so it's nice to see that format being done with actual Muppets. It's not the Muppet Show everyone wanted, but for prime time TV, it works." ~David A. Scott Jr.

Having wandered through some of the review of the first episode I got the feeling that this show was thought to be overdone tripe in the vein of shows that have already come and gone Parks and Rec, The Office, or Modern Family. See there's a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and about 69% of viewers enjoy the show. There must be something to it, I mean its the Muppets, the magic must be there, somewhere, even if its gotten mixed reviews. Right?

"It is like the office meets the Muppets. It is charming and true to the Muppets hilarious nature." ~Kaylara Allington

I was a little on the fence after the first two episodes. See, there were a few a points that made me question if I could watch this show for longer than an episode or two.              
          *First, there weren't a lot of musical numbers. The Muppets are about singing and music in my book. This show seemed to not have that staple with usually one, maybe two musical numbers per episode at most.
          *Second, the characters seemed to be out of character for their typical goals, desires, and pursuits. I will not spoil much, but it is strange to see Sam the Eagle trying to hit on a another Muppet character. It felt weird.
          *Third, and I have gotten this from others that here has always been a this thing about the Muppets. They are timeless and multi-generational, for kids and adults  are into them. They enjoy the songs, dancing, and general goofiness that comes with the Muppets. So for some people this show hasn't felt very Muppety.

"Like many people, the Muppets are a major part of my childhood - from the classic films to the not-so-classic films, to Muppet Babies, etc.  Particularly with the show (and the much loved but short-lived Muppets Tonight) and the films, I have watched them at different points in my life and been able to access them in different ways.  You get different jokes at different points in your life.  My issue with the new show is the total abandonment of those layers.  The Muppets were never "for kids" (well, except maybe for some unfortunate televised specials), but they always reached out to kids with love while still entertaining older audiences.  This show is funny.  The Muppets still seem like themselves (aside from whatever is going on with Janice), but it is frustrating for me to watch the show which is in no way inviting to children.  It loses some of that sense of magic and wonder in favor of giving over entirely to the cynical.  Yes, it is funny and entertaining, but for me, it just isn't the Muppets." ~Sara Love

I sort of felt the same way after watching the first two episodes. Being a classic Muppet person when it comes to the Muppets, its always been The Muppet Show or Muppets Babies, the countless specials and most of the movies (except Muppets Most Wanted, still need to watch that one). I love to see The Electric Mayhem play all manners of songs from Rock to Opera. The guests on the original show were unique, varied,  and always made it interesting, even when I didn't know who they were. See the Zero Mostel episode (Teyve from Fiddler and Pseudolus in Funny Thing Happen on the Way to the Forum) in a bit written bu Jerry Juhl in the style of Edgar Allen Poe.

What does that mean for the The Muppets new show? Currently, it looks like they are on top and riding a wave of success. ABC has green lit (pun intended) 16 episodes. That's a full season! I have watched 8 of the aired episodes. The reviews are a mix bag, as most things tend. Having asked my group of friends what they think, I was surprised that overall more people were into the show and found it entertaining. So, really what makes this show so appealing to the masses?

There's the BIG BREAK UP between Kermit and Piggy. No gonna lie, I was a little excited about that as I have always secretly loathe piggy. That doesn't mean I hated the Muppet Show or the subsequent movies. It was a charming annoyance, tongue and cheek type of humour about a relationship with a Pig and a Frog. Although when I first saw Muppets take Manhattan I was put off by the 'wedding' of Kermit and Piggy. I know some of the movie are just stories told using Muppets characters, but yeah that wasn't my favourite part. So, with Kermit and Piggy free to be the possibilities at more open. What does Kermit do? Date another pig.... ~shrug~ You love what you love.

"What I like about it is the update to the times. The characters take vaguely about sex, they talk about drinking or how safe their jobs are, it's really up to date and much more for adults than teens or children." ~Todd Chichester

Then there's the secondary characters and those have really made the show rather enjoyable for me. Even with the raunchy take on Swedish Chef or Pepe and Rizzo's hijinks, I can say that I understand why the show is doing well. It is funny and I have warmed up to much of the modern take on the lives of my beloved Muppets characters; Sam the Eagle macking on Janice, weird, yes, but funny. A wide variety of guests in funny and interesting situations with Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie, or the Electric Meyhem. They have opened up something that I didn't think about until I started writing this review. To stay in the same pattern isn't always going to keep you in good standing, sometimes you have to try something new, especially if something old isn't working. Change isn't bad. Change can be scary. Will it always work out perfectly? Not necessarily. But, if you make people happy with your TV show then you are doing something right. If you are happy with your work, you are doing something right. If at the end of the day realize that the world is better for ditching Kristen Chenowith in the desert, then so be it.

What I thought of Pig Girls don't Cry versus Hard to Handler is very different. I might not always roll on the floor at every joke, but I do like the show. I love the Muppets. And I like knowing that they make people happy. Half watching half the season I will definitely be tuning into the next 8 episodes. I hope they can make another season, but in the mean time Fozzie will always tell terrible jokes, Gonzo is awesome, Pepe is the best thing to come out of the sea, and the Swedish Chef's "Gropin' the Groban" is still my favourite line thus far.

Cheers to the Muppets!

I was introduced to the Muppets through re-runs of the old Muppet Show and the movies. They were on Sesame Street too. A whole chunk of my life was about the Muppets, and as I got older I discovered some of the older specials and rarer gems from the archives, thanks to David. There was much time was spent enjoying these specials, movies, and TV shows. Christmas suddenly became about Emmet Otter, Muppet Family Christmas, and the Christmas Toy. Today I can still pull out something Muppety and feel good. Even better is when the movie from 2011 came out, it blew me away and showed me that the Muppets were definitely a force to be reckoned with. I sing the song and laugh at the jokes. Wokka Wokka!!

Now because I love a top list. My top 10 Muppets moments from everything Muppety.

10. A, B, C...Cookie Monster

9.  Elton John - Benny and the Jets (The Muppet Show)

8. Gonzo - I'm Going to Go Back There Someday (The Muppet Movie)

7. Linda Ronstadt - Blue Bayou (The Muppet Show)

6. Rainbow Connection (The Muppet Movie)

5. Nothing! There are  my.... (Muppets Wizard of Oz)

4. Manha Manha

3. Pepe!

2. Life's a Happy Song - The Muppets (2011) Most of the song and I've wanted to do this song for a music review, because THEATRE!!! And it's awesome.

1. Harry Belafonte - Turn the World Around (The Muppet Show)

Check out my friends twitter and Tumblr sites for more silly and interesting stuff in the links above. Without their input I wouldn't be able to write this. Leave me a comment about your opinion on the Muppets new show. I love all opinions. Please share your favourite moments from the new show, old classic songs and skits. What turned you onto the Muppets? What don't you like about the Muppets?

"Just watch it, okay." ~Pepe


  1. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed in "The Muppets." I watched the first two episodes and didn't enjoy myself enough to continue. I feel like the Muppets have been really hit or miss since the death of Jim Henson (the film "The Muppets"? Incredible! "Muppets From Space"? Surprisingly good--especially the opening "Brick House' sequence! Lots of other stuff? Not so much.) It seems to me that the two keys to the Muppets' charm are joy and heart, and the new show, to me, lacks both--especially joy. The Muppets have always been a bit adult, even sometimes on "Sesame Street". But even when they've leaned toward more mature themes or humor, they've always been at their best when they're filled with joy and whimsy and wonder, and I'm just not feeling it this time around. It's too bad. I was hoping that the film was the advent of the return of the Muppets I've always loved.


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