THE MUPPETS; A Defence of All Things Wocka Wocka Wocka!

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This fall ABC premiered a brand new Muppet show aptly titled – “The Muppets”, and I LOVE IT….but I seem to be in the minority with this opinion and I can’t understand why. So after weeks of hearing people bash the show, and try to tell me why it’s not that great I’m coming at you with my rebuttal.

Let’s take a  look at what seems to be the three biggest gripes with this show:

It’s too adult.

Firstly, what do you mean by “too adult”? We’re not watching Muppets throw out double innuendos or sleazy come on lines, so already your argument doesn’t hold water. Secondly, and I’ll break this to you gently, Kermit was born in 1955. Face it, the Muppets are adults.

This version of the Muppets is kind of like going back to your home town to discover everyone has gotten married, had kids and just generally got their shit together. The situations may have changed, but the people haven’t. I’ll argue that in The Muppet Show we were watching the carefree college years, while in The Muppets we’re watching the thirtysomething years.  I  think seeing the ‘grown up’ Muppets gives them even more dimension and in my opinion – relatability. We’ve grown up, they’ve grown up.  Is it really that bad to see Fozzie and Kermit sharing a post work beer? I don’t think so because – news alert! Muppets are people too!  Wait.. no, they’re not… but I dare say they enjoy a good drink after a hard days work.

Muppets, they’re just like us!

So what else did you say you hated? Oh right…

It’s shot mockumentary style.

So? Seriously how does that effect anything? Yes, you could say this style has been done to death recently and normally I would agree with you – just not this time. The Muppets, essentially, is a work place sitcom and the mockumentary style lends itself well to this genre, and apart from a few camera facing interviews it’s just another single camera comedy. Get over it.

Another thing I like about this shooting style is that it helps heighten one of my favorite elements of any Muppet related project, something I affectionately call Muppeting the background. NOTHING makes me laugh more than seeing Bobo the Bear wander aimlessly in the background of a scene with a clipboard,  headset, or a cup of coffee. Or seeing Sweetums ride up to the sound stage on his bike. Don’t you find that hilarious? Because it’s absolute BLISS for me! Half the fun of this show is re-watching an episode and trying to keep up with everything that’s going on in the background. Try it, I guarantee you’ll be entertained.

There’s a lot going on here, and it’s all hilarious!

Now let’s get to the big one. The problem that seems to be at the center of all this:

It’s not like the original.

No, it’s not. But here’s a question for you – why would you want it to be? I love all things Muppets, and especially The Muppet Show. It’s complete and utter brilliance.  But if I want to watch The Muppet Show, then I’ll watch The Muppet Show – and I suggest you do the same. It’s out on DVD y’know? Head to Amazon, order it, and party down!

Now, in case you’re not aware of how this show came about, I’ll inform you. The creators, Bill Prady and Bob Kushell, shot a hand-held video pitch, showed it to ABC – who greenlit it immediately, and a new era of Muppeting was born.  I must emphasize that at no point  did ANYONE say they were”remaking The Muppet Show”, they simply said they were “making a Muppet show”. We can sit and argue semantics as much as you want, but you’re still going to be wrong every time. This show was pitched as a BRAND NEW Muppet show, so let’s stop pretending that all the execs, writers, creators and Muppets themselves lied to us. They didn’t. You just jumped to assumptions.

On the flip side though, I can point out The Muppets has a lot in common with the beloved original. Both take place behind the scenes of a show – in the 70’s it was a Vaudeville style stage show, and in 2015 it’s a late night talk show. I love the idea of a Muppet talk show! I want to work on a Muppet talk show! Finally we can celebrate the fact that a WOMAN is representing in late night. Rock on, Miss Piggy!

You know what else they have in common? The characters. Yup. Gonzo, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Pepe – they’re all here, and The Electric Mayhem are still the resident house band so, again,  I don’t see what the problem is. I could understand the uproar if the creators had pushed our childhoods aside to bring in all new and improved Muppets – but they didn’t. Remember what I said earlier about situations changing, not necessarily the people? Still valid because every character is still the same as I remember them. Still fun, still endearing, and still hilarious.

Muppets then.

Muppets now.

So with all that in mind I do hope people give this show a chance because let me tell you, if my dreams ever do come true and I get to run a network – I’m going to Muppet the shit out of TV. Oh yes. You heard it here first. There will be a dozen people, and hundreds of Muppets, working in my Hollywood, and all I can say is – you’re welcome world.

Wocka Wocka Wocka!

Legend.

 

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