Muppets Now (2020 TV)

After ABC tried to revive the Muppets with the one season show of The Muppets, in 2015, the franchise lay fallow for another 5 years. Once Disney+ got its feet under itself and established itself as a bona fida streaming option. Then they started streaming various Muppet franchise IP’s and tried to re-start the franchise with brand new stuff.

There were only 6 episodes and since they didn’t make a billion dollars within 24hrs Disney decided to drop this show after 1 season as well. Which was too bad, because this show had potential. I had some issues with how the episodes were structured but that was something you expect from a first season.

Once again Miss Piggy is front and center and honestly, it works. She’s dynamic and just the right amount of “diva” to be funny and yet tough and no non-sense. She had a bit every episode where she and Taye Diggs did a lifestyle segment and then another bit where she and Linda Cardellini. do a group zoom chat. Both segments were brilliant.

The next biggest and regular bit was a cook-off between the Swedish Chef and some guest cook. Sadly, the opening to this bit was really long for such a short show (20min show and the opening to the skit is close to a minute) and detracted from the overall humor. They really leaned into the Swedish Chef and his bad attitude when he lost the cook off (every time).

Scooter is the MC and has to upload the show to stream and we see him having troubles every episode. We get little one-off bits throughout and I enjoyed them as well. If more seasons were created, I would definitely watch them. But this being a failure, I suspect the Muppets will go on another hiatus. There is one more movie for me to watch that came out in 2021 and then I’ll be done my Muppet Journey.

The Muppets (2015 TV)

After the 2011 and 2014 movies, ABC, which was owned by Disney, decided to relaunch the Muppet franchise as a tv show, getting back to their roots. What they also did was to update the times (Miss Piggy has her own late night talk show and Kermit is the producer) and make this a completely adult show. There is no way I’d ever let any kids watch this. There was a lot of adult humor. It was funny and yet uncomfortable.

Along with updating the times, the show also takes an Office’esque approach and has the various muppets talking to the camera about “Up Late with Miss Piggy”. However, it ends up becoming a joke for the muppets to ignore Kermit as he talks to them and claim they thought he was talking to the camera.

Other changes include Kermit and Miss Piggy having broken up and Kermit is now dating another pig. The show revolves around the question of whether Kermit and Miss Piggy will get back together or not.

Overall I enjoyed this but I can see why it was cancelled after the first season. It was not family friendly and I felt that the Muppets were changed for the worst. They weren’t horrible scumbags, but they had become characters that I wouldn’t want to spend time with.

There was a good mix of the original cast and the characters from Muppets Tonight so it really felt like “the whole gang” was included. Because this was Disney, they did have to go and sensitive everything. The Swedish Chef still babbles nonsense but now he’s got subtitles that show he’s discussing the existential meaning of life. It wasn’t “woke” by any stretch but it did show the issues that Disney was having with the Muppets.

This just didn’t have the spirit of the Muppets. While I might have complained about the 2011 Movie, it and the Most Wanted sequel, they still felt like they were true to what the Muppets were about. This was like the Muppets had gotten a tummy tuck, a boob job, had a butt implant and gotten their lips botoxed. It felt like Aubrey Hepburn, the idealization of femininity, had suddenly been Kardashianized.

I won’t be watching this show again. Despite my complaints, I did enjoy this one watch through but it was not good enough to ever revisit. I wouldn’t recommend it to just a casual viewer looking for something to binge on.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014 Movie)

This was a direct sequel to The Muppets (2011 Movie) and by direct sequel I mean this picks up at the last scene of that movie. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this until 2 things happened. First, Ricky Gervais showed up as “Dom Badguy”, so I knew I was going to appreciate the humor (how can you not love it when one of the dumb badguys is named such?). Secondly, Sam the Eagle, as a CIA agent, has a badge measuring scene with an Interpol Agent (played by Ty Burrel, whoever he is) and THAT’S when I knew this movie was for me.

The gist of the movie is that Kermit gets replaced by his evil duplicate and nobody notices except Animal, Fozzie and Walter (the new muppet introduced in the previous movie). Bad Kermit has plans to steal the Crown Jewels and uses the Muppets and only Kermit can stop him.

I loved this movie. I am not usually a fan of Ricky Gervais, but once again what made the difference is that he really played like he was acting with others in the scenes with the muppets. I think the biggest issue with Muppet movies is getting actors who can simply accept, and thus show by tone and body language, that the muppets are other legitimate actors in front of the camera. He played up his own strengths but at the same time didn’t feel like he was stealing any scenes for himself. Much like Michael Caine in Muppet Treasure Island, Gervais enhanced the scenes he was in.

The pure zaniness was back. Whoever wrote this, they seemed to understand the kind of humor that Jim Henson had captured in the original Muppets. It was whacky, it was silly, it was zany and it most important of all, it worked. I will be buying this and its prequel on bluray sometime by years end. This deserves a spot on the Muppet Shelf.

The only downside to this movie is that it is pretty essential to have watched the previous movie to understand everything clearly. Other than that, I highly recommend this Muppet movie.

The Muppets (2011 Movie)

Disney attempts to cash in on the Muppet Franchise and reboots it. There are a lot of call back scenes to the Original Muppet Movie and there is a LOT of group singing and dancing. That cover feels pretty accurate in conveying the tone of the movie.

I enjoyed this movie more than some of the other Muppet stuff but this time I felt that it would have been ok if the Muppets had been left in the past. There were some great comedic schticks (the scenes where Jack Black is tied up on stage and is involuntarily having a comedy duo routine with Fozzy was absolutely priceless) but Disney’s fingerprints were all over this and they were very smudgy and jelly’ish fingerprints, not at all unobtrusive or subtle.

Unlike the Muppets Wizard of Oz, I found the interaction between the humans and the Muppets to be quite believable and once again the Muppets were as much stars as the human cast. That’s how it should be.

I’m going to keep on watching the Muppet oeuvre until the end but it is now completely apparent to me that without Jim Henson’s direct hand, the Muppets aren’t quite all that. Henson made the correct decision to end the tv show on a high point and this continuation of the franchise shows the wisdom of his decision. While fans clamor for more Muppets, they should have trusted Henson’s decision. While Disney is a big fat target for my dislike (what they have done to my beloved Star Wars is unconscionable), fans are as much to blame.

I’d only recommend this to hardcore Muppet Completionists.

The Muppets Wizard of Oz (2005 Movie)

In my April ’22 Roundup & Ramblings post I mentioned that I’d heard this was a really bad Muppet’s movie, possibly the worst ever. After the struggle it was to write the Sherlock Posts I felt it would be a relief to really dig into something and eviscerate it mercilessly.

Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out to be THAT kind of bad movie. This was exactly in the same vein as Muppets from Space, ie, childish, stupid and not one whit funny. But this was even more vanilla and even more boring than From Space. From Space at least had a few laughs. Wizard of Oz? I don’t think I cracked a smile even once.

Ashanti, playing Dorothy Gale, had ZERO chemistry with the muppets. This was the first movie where every single original Muppeteer was gone (as far as I can tell), so that might have played a part, but it was evident that Ashanti was used to being the center of attention and to diminish that by allowing the Muppets to be the stars was more than she could handle.

There were things that SHOULD have been funny. Miss Piggy as the 4 Witches, each with their own costume and personality, well, it should have been funny. It wasn’t. Like I noted before though, nothing was outright bad. It was just boring as all get out. I usually watch these movies 2-3 times to make sure I’m not missing anything (I watch it the first time to just enjoy it. The second time to get ideas about reviewing and a 3rd if I need clarification on something). With this one, I watched it once and said “good enough” because any more would be interrogating myself enhancedly! and as I’m a bona fida genuina Americhino Citizen, we simply can not have that.

I would only recommend this to a Muppet Completionist. Every one else? Go watch something else, ANYTHING else. If I may make a suggestion? Go watch Tron. Broaden your lumpy modern mind with something classic and good.

The Great Game (Sherlock TV 2010)

This was a fantastic episode. This is where Moriarty is officially introduced and my goodness, does he make an entrance. He finally confronts Sherlock by forcing Sherlock to solve one mystery after another without a letup and the hook is that if Sherlock fails, an innocent will be blown to smithereens by a bomb vest. It is tense, fast and non-stop.

Unfortunately, the gay innuendo is non-stop as well. From Moriarty’s little “love” letters to Sherlock, to Moriarty pretending to BE gay to the continued two guys can’t be friends schtick. I had not remembered it being so blatant or so non-stop. It just felt unrelenting.

Dave asked me some questions, so without further ado:

  • What do you think of Moriarty’s portrayal during this episode? Does he come of as clever as he thinks he is? Do you consider him a threat with all that pomp and show and tell tactics?

He’s definitely a show-off but his little game makes me feel that he IS as clever as he thinks he is. He’s just a crazy psycho too.

That being said, Moriarty was the absolutely PERFECT villain. When that light hearted charming facade switches off and you see the evil monstrous man, oh boy, watch out. His little tantrum while talking to Sherlock while Watson is wearing a bomb vest was like a light turning off and darkness just spreading through the whole room. The cliffhanger ending would have been annoying back in the day but with the series finished, anyone now can simply pop in the next disc (or stream it if they’re extravagantly and filthy rich) and voila, the journey continues.

  • What did you feel about the overall episode.

While I enjoyed watching this, as a nice little break from the Muppet related stuff, overall it was not worth the energy to review. Movies are a whole different beast from books and it takes a different mentality to review them. I haven’t had a lot of practice and so the strain on my moral fibre is incredible. If I watch any more of the series I won’t be blogging about it.

  • Do you think the cat and mouse game between good and bad was well done? If so what stood out, if not, what did you find annoying?

The rivalry between Moriarty and Sherlock was definitely changed for a tv show. Like I mentioned above, it was almost too frenetic for me. And Sherlock thriving on it and losing sight of the goal of bringing a criminal to justice wasn’t very likeable or heroic in my opinion.

  • Do you also keep severed heads in your kitchen fridge?πŸ˜†

Hahahahahaa! That was just so ridiculous that I actually laughed at it.

Dave has his own review up HERE.

The Blind Banker (Sherlock TV 2010)

This second episode of the modern remake of Sherlock Holmes introduces us to Watson’s future wife. It also gives us a view of the international sense of crime that Sherlock is fighting against. We also get some hints about a mysterious Master of Crime.

I thought how Sherlock kept interfering between John and Sarah, whether consciously or not, really showed that he did value John’s friendship and was so unaccustomed to friendship that he didn’t know how to share.

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch is so perfect that you would think they WERE Watson and Holmes. John and Sarah had pretty good screen chemistry too. They were believable as an odd and uncomfortable couple. The stereotypical English couple.

And I’m still struggling for words. I don’t know why this is going so hard but I feel like I am grasping for every single word I type. Sorry folks, this is all you get.

Here’s to hoping Dave has more to say than me!

A Study in Pink (Sherlock TV 2010)

This is the first episode of the Sherlock tv series that premiered in 2010 starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It’s a modern retelling that was a rather large success. I am doing a watch-a-long with Dave and we watched this and had a couple of questions for the other. Here are Dave’s questions to me that I’ll answer. A link to his post is at the end below.

1) Did you like the over all feel of the opening episode?

Yes I did. I really enjoyed this modern retelling. The updated forensics and technology was handled well and as far as tv goes, didn’t offend any sense of reality that I had.

2) What do you feel about the portrayal of The Holmes brothers?

The portrayal was fantastic. I really enjoyed how the producers made it look like Mycroft was actually Holmes’ “nemesis”, getting our expectations all set for some Moriarty action. Making Mycroft a government stooge, albeit an extremely smart and powerful one, seemed much more in tune with today’s culture than him hanging out in a gentlemens club like in Doyle’s stories.

3) Do you think or remember Watson having a brother or a sister in the books?

I don’t. It was one of those “liberties” that the producers took that didn’t really bother me. It really felt more of a setup to give Holmes and Watson a bonding moment, to cement their friendship. Considering that Watson’s family wasn’t again outside of that specific moment made it feel as shallow as it was. Of course, I could be wrong and Watson has a HUGE family that we’re introduced to in later books :-/

4) What do you think about the chemistry between holmes and watson? You can list good and bad traits if you feel like it.

I thought Cumberbatch and Freeman worked excellently off of each other. They exhibited characteristics of Holmes and Watson that MADE them those characters. Now that I’ve seen them, I can not imagine anyone else playing them. I am not familiar with older incarnations of TV Sherlock, so I have no attachments to other actors. That helps a lot. I did find Watson a bit too “polite” for me. He’s not spineless, as how he handled the mad cabbie shows that. Holmes’ disdain for the police smacked of modern elitism, unlike the books by Doyle. I did find the joking about male friendship as nothing more than hidden homo-eroticism got stale and tired very quickly. It made me wonder if the producers had ever had any close male friends or if they were just pathetic lonely men?

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this watch. I am VERY glad that Dave had these questions because I was really struggling to write something about this tv show. I expected to write something up as easily as I did for the Muppet Show or Fragglerock but nope, I tried about 6 times to get started and it wasn’t until I had these questions that the writing seemed to happen. Made me wonder how some people can write up movie reviews every day?

Fraggle Rock Season 4 (TV 1986)

Technically, there was a Season Four AND a Season Five to Fraggle Rock, if you watched it on tv. They did some number shuffling for a variety of reasons. Reading Henson’s bio talked about this a little. It had to do with what studios would accept, etc, So they stretched out the final season into 2 seasons. As I’m watching dvd rips, I’m getting it the way it was originally produced.

When they made the choice to split the final season, they cut 2 episodes from Season Three, added them to the final season and then cut that in half for 2 shorter seasons of 13 episodes each. Yeah, it makes a real hash of trying to figure out stuff. I guess that was why I included the episode list in my last review so I could keep straight what episodes were going where. So here’s this sets episode list:

  • Disc 1
  • Sidebottom Blues
  • Uncle Matt’s Discovery
  • Junior Faces the Music
  • The Perfect Blue Rollie
  • A Tune for Two
  • A Brush with Jealousy
  • Disc 2
  • Wembley’s Flight
  • Wonder Mountain
  • Red’s Blue Dragon
  • Space Frog Follies
  • Boober Gorg
  • Mirror, Mirror
  • Disc 3
  • The Riddle of Rhyming Rock
  • The Voice Inside
  • The Trial of Cotterpin Doozer
  • The River of Life
  • Beyond the Pond
  • Gone, But Not Forgotten
  • Disc 4
  • Mokey, Then and Now
  • Ring Around the Rock
  • Inspector Red
  • The Gorg Who Would Be King
  • The Honk of Honks
  • Change of Address

After reading Henson’s bio, watching this season made so much sense. Henson was adamant about only producing top quality stuff and at the same time was all about letting the artistic side of himself dictate stuff. So when he got bored with something, he would drop it. But unlike a certain jackass author *coughgrrmartincough* Henson made sure to finish things up. Which meant his shows usually ended on a high point.

We’re so unused to that here in the States now (where producers, executives, studios milk anything until they destroy it) that it is extremely refreshing but also gives me pause, as I did find myself saying “Awwww come on, I want some more”. But more wouldn’t have been better. Doc and Sprockett move away and the Fraggles find that they can make entries into our world using the power of magic so the adventures don’t have to end. It was the perfect ending to this light, (extremely) loud and frenetic series.

While I enjoyed the Muppet Show more, this was still very engaging and fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at Fraggle Rock. I can also see myself coming back and just listening to this in the background as I do other things. If you enjoy the Muppets, I would unreservedly recommend this series as well.

Fraggle Rock Season Three (TV 1985)

Another great season for Fraggle Rock. I’ve decided to include an episode list this time just to show some of the, ummm, “creative” genius of the show.

  • Red-Handed and the Invisible Thief
  • Boober and the Glob
  • The Grapes of Generosity
  • Blanket of Snow, Blanket of Woe
  • Pebble Pox Blues
  • Home Is Where the Trash Is
  • Believe It or Not
  • Wembley and the Mean Genie
  • The Secret Society of Poobahs
  • The Beanbarrow, the Burden and the Bright Bouquet
  • Gobo’s School for Explorers
  • Scared Silly
  • The Great Radish Caper
  • Born to Wander
  • The Battle of Leaking Roof
  • Playing Till It Hurts
  • Bored Stiff
  • The Cavern of Lost Dreams
  • The Incredible Shrinking Mokey
  • A Dark and Stormy Night
  • Gunge the Great and Glorious
  • The Bells of Fraggle Rock
  • Sprocket’s Big Adventure
  • Wembley’s Wonderful Whoopie Water

Reading the Jim Henson Bio has certainly opened my eyes while watching this season. Henson’s love of television as an artform, his creative genius, it all explains so MUCH about these shows (I’m including the Muppets too). His underlying new age philosophy also plays a much bigger part than I initially realized. It is rather amazing how much those kind of things influence a show and we the watchers would never full grasp it.

I still don’t like the wraparound scenes with Doc and Sprocket. I don’t like Doc and he hasn’t grown on me at all. Part of it is that he is a potterer and I can’t stand people who just potter around doing one thing one minute and another thing the next minute. He’s also a monomaniac when it comes to his inventions. There is one episode where Sprocket ends up going into Fraggle Land but his efforts to convince Doc that they exist come to naught. Sprocket can be extremely expressive for a muppet dog while Doc has got to be about the thickest human I’ve ever seen.

The energy of this show is incredible. Just thinking about it makes me tired but while I’m watching I’m as jazzed up as anything. Considering this was aimed at prepubescent children, either I’m a big baby or Henson hits his notes for the show perfectly. Let’s go with the Creative Genius interpretation.

Only one more season to go and then it’s back to tracking down Muppet movies and shows again.

ps,
I am trying this without the Jackass picture. I hope that the scumbag who forced me to use it last time will leave this poor little post alone.