Monday, May 16, 2016

Muppet Monday

Well, as I mentioned on Friday, The Muppets got canceled and I'm not really that surprised. One of the things I've come over the decades to accept as a Muppets fan is that the Muppets are something of a niche interest. The world isn't exploding with Muppet fans, really, and there's a lot of complaining from the general public that comes with anything... well, anything that isn't The Muppet Show, really. All of those 90s kids that grew up loving Muppet Treasure Island because they had the VHS don't even realize how unpopular that movie was when it originally came out. I remember reviews suggesting the Muppets should just pack it in forever. I have a friend who watched people walk out of that movie with their kids.

I don't know, I liked the sitcom. Yeah, it was different. They tried to explore the characters in a long-term way that they hadn't really before, and people didn't react well. People want the Muppets to never change, yet somehow also stay relevant. I thought it was interesting the way the show took Kermit back to being the more multifaceted character he was on The Muppet Show (easily exasperated, with a bit of a temper, caught in the position of trying to make things run smoothly and maybe too concerned with keeping the peace to really relax), and people seemed to really hate that. Personally, I like it when the Muppets are allowed to be actual characters rather than the Repositories of All Our Joys.

Today is the 26th anniversary of Jim Henson's death. A lot of key creative people from The Muppet Show have died or moved on. It's not gonna be the same, folks.

Was The Muppets always funny? Not really. It was rough in the first few episodes. I think the last six or seven episodes saw things really clicking into place. There were a lot of creative folks there, and the characters were starting to take good turns, and it gave us a wonderful role for Uncle Deadly and, it gave us (in my opinion, anyway) one great new character in Chip from IT. I'll miss the show, but I got 16 episodes of a new Muppet show, and that's something good. I can't wait to buy it on Blu-Ray.

And I'm not mad. I think there were some people--as there always are--who decided they hated it after the first act of the first episode and spent a lot of time complaining about. And, as always, there were a lot of people who just wanted The Muppet Show and were angry not to get that. But, obviously, there were a lot of people that just didn't dig it. The ratings weren't great, it was expensive, etc. I kind of went in knowing that we'd be lucky to get all the way to the end of the first season. But it was one of my favorite things this TV season. And I'm glad to have had it. I'm not bitter at anyone.

Well... probably ABC.

ABC really needs to make it up to me between canceling The Muppets and Agent Carter... That just stings, you bastards.

Anyway, here's a clip of Miss Piggy and Kermit singing the John Prine song "In Spite of Ourselves" on Episode 11, "Swine Song." I can't wait to see what the Muppets have in store next. If anything, because Disney has no idea.


Roger Owen Green said...

I thought it deserved another 13 shows, at least. But I'm not surprised.

Devilham said...

My wife and I loved it, sorry to see it was cancelled, but could see the writing on the wall :(

Jason said...

I'll confess, I only watched this latest iteration a couple times, but not because I hated it or didn't want to give it a chance, it's just how my schedule worked out. I'd like to see the series... hope it does get a DVD or streaming release. But weirdly, Disney doesn't seem very interested in supporting the Muppets on home video in any format. I'm still waiting for the final two seasons of the old Muppet Show, and as far as I know, none of the other Muppet series are out there... are they?

Disney just doesn't seem to know what to do with this property, and I wonder if the Muppets would do better under different owners.

SamuraiFrog said...

I agree with you about Disney. Sometimes, I'm not even sure why they bought the characters. They still don't even own the rights to all of the Muppet movies, much less all of the Muppet projects (which is why A Muppet Family Christmas isn't going to be released uncut anytime soon).

The rights issues to every Muppet series are complex and a little frustrating. They had to cut so much from the first three seasons of The Muppet Show (mostly because of issues with music rights) that they just decided not to bother with the final two, and I'm sure we'll never see Muppets Tonight get officially released for the same reason. They obviously don't think they'll sell well enough to bother paying for video rights for a lot of the music. The same for the Muppet segments of The Jim Henson Hour, which are the only segments Disney would even have a right to; The Storyteller and all of the other segments are still owned by The Jim Henson Company.

It's maddening, because you know going in that a lot of stuff you see might be the only time you ever see it.

Add to this that Muppets Most Wanted didn't do as well theatrically as The Muppets; the talk is that Disney doesn't want to make another feature, so what are they going to do with these characters? I hope we'll get some more viral videos while they're trying to figure it out.

And a lot of people will complain that they should just do the old, dead format (Neil Patrick Harris' was canceled in eight episodes) variety show again (Entertainment Weekly already has), but the last time the Muppets did a variety show it was that Lady Gaga special and most people (Muppet fans included) reacted with a "Why?" or a "Huh?" or a "What the hell is this thing?"