Monday, September 28, 2015

New release round-up for September '15

Once again, I didn't see any new films, so I'll talk TV instead...

...and there's only one new TV show that's on my mind right now. When I first saw the print ads for the new Muppet TV show, The Muppets, at first I was excited. Then I looked at them closer and thought: What are the Muppets doing with cell phones? Then I remembered: it's 2015, not 1979. No matter how often I see Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and the rest in a modern context, I simply cannot get used to it. To me, they'll always be of the late 70s-early 80s, the time when I was a kid and watched them on TV. I understand they can't stay preserved in amber, though, as much as I might want them to, and I had been looking forward to seeing them back on TV.

Pam at Go Retro recently wrote back-to-back posts about the Muppets. The first was about why she thinks Miss Piggy sucks. I never thought about the pig and the frog as being in an abusive relationship. I mean, yeah, she was possessive and jealous and always making with the karate chops, but at the same time, despite her flirtatious nature, she had made it pretty clear that Kermit was the only man frog for her - until they "broke up" this summer, anyway. Pam's second post was a preview of the new show, in which we learn that there's a lot more sexual innuendo than usual.

Now that I've seen it, I have to admit that it's not too different in spirit from the original Muppet Show, although yeah, some of the humor, as well as the modern setting, will take some getting used to if you grew up with these characters (Kermit actually said "hell"!). Will wrote a piece that helped set my mind at ease. I didn't realize there was such an active protest against the new show, but then again, everyone's so hyper-sensitive and politically correct these days that it's possible for almost anything to be offensive to someone.

The new show has humor, but it also has moments of genuine drama. That's not new - some of the movies had such moments, especially the original Muppet Movie - but it still took me by surprise. Kermit and Piggy's breakup is being treated as seriously as any Hollywood romance, both within and without the show's context, and I like that. It's clear that Kermit has had to tolerate a great deal from Piggy over the years, as Pam pointed out, but I always believed he believed she was worth it. Sure, I know they'll get back together in the end, but I wanna see how this plays out. This new character Denise may seem like a better match for Kermit on the surface, but I'm sure we'll discover something peculiar about her in time. Speaking of romance: Fozzie dating a human girl? This is one of those new changes I'm on the fence about. I'm not sure I wanna think about Muppet-human sex.

Other observations: If the characters-talking-to-the-camera moments are a reality-show-inspired trope from other sitcoms, I don't think it adds anything of great value here. I'd rather see more character interaction.... I can see I'm gonna have to bone up on some of these modern celebrities. I've never heard of the band Imagine Dragons, nor did their music strike me as a big deal. And I know Piggy is dating Josh Groban, but I don't know who he is either.... Gonzo seems much less wacky, and Scooter was much ruder! I couldn't believe the way he talked to and acted with Elizabeth Banks. That's not the Scooter I remember.... Will was right, Fozzie does come across like a Woody Allen character around his girlfriend, but he always did have a neurotic streak. Fozzie was always my favorite Muppet, so I am glad to see him growing out of his role as Kermit's sidekick.... Where was Walter from the recent movies? Not that I'm that excited about him, but I thought he was conspicuous by his absence.

Overall, The Muppets isn't bad, but there are some things that still rub me the wrong way. I just have to keep telling myself when I watch that it's 2015, not 1979. Maybe I won't make the adjustment, maybe I will. And if you think this sort of thing makes me cranky now, wait until The Peanuts Movie comes out this fall...

The 2011 Muppets movie
Muppets Most Wanted
The frog prince: the legacy of Jim Henson


  1. "If the characters-talking-to-the-camera moments are a reality-show-inspired trope from other sitcoms, I don't think it adds anything of great value here."

    I thought they picked that up from George Burns on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show". And you think you have to catch up on the current celebrities!

  2. I guess there really isn't anything new under the sun.


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