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Posts tagged “The Muppets

Muppets Mayhem

Muppets Mayhem landed on Disney + with a whimper, rather than a bang. Not a lot of promotion and honestly, while I like the netflix model of releasing a whole season at once, for Disney to do it this way shows a lack of interest on their part. That’s a shame, because the people making this threw thier heart and soul into it and created some of the best Muppets I’ve seen in decades.

Thats not a statement I make lightly. I was seriously critical of the last TV outing for the Muppets. I still can’t go back and watch it, even though it was one of the offerings listed on D+ (but no muppets tonight! WTF?). And while I defended the first Disney Muppet movie (as well as Muppets Wizard of OZ.) Muppets Most wanted was just…meh.

Insted of trying to reinvent the uppets and trying to be a new fersion of the prime Muppet Show, they decided to try something diffrent. Insted of being Cheers, they decided to be Fraiser. Insted of being the Andy Griffith Show, they decided to be Gomer Pyle USMC.

And it works.

We get origins we never knew we needed. We get unprecedented development for more background characters like Zoot and Lips. More importantly, they cracked the formula that has always worked for me in sitcoms – pretty girl, smart mouth puppet (s) outragous humor (especially wordplay) with a dash of drama halfway through, then ended with a bang of a gag. We get music that is genuinely good – and a series where the soundtrack actually MATTERS every bit as much as the soundtrack to The Crow, Frozen or the original Muppet Movie.

It’s heartwarming, it’s funny, it’s cute and there’s a bunch of new figures I’ve got to 3d print now. Go watch this series because I’m DYING for a second season.


Muppets from Space

directorstmuppets-from-space-1999-medium-coverThe Muppet Movie is absolutely my favorite of all the Muppet films. It’s the perfect dead-on take on Henson’s creations. But it might surprise you to know that Muppets From Space is a fast second place – none of the others even come close.

In the era after Henson’s death until the time Disney finally bought the property, the Muppers kind of meandered, not sure how to proceed. We had a couple half hearted sequals – adaptions of Treasure Island and a Christmas Carol, as well as the ill-fated Muppts Tonight show that ABC never gave a chance (yanking it after only four episodes).

I like Muppets from space because it features the Muppets just being themselves- it’s thier downtime, thier personal adventures – soemthing I always found more interesting than the skits themselves. I find the story of Gonzo discovering that he is infact an alien to be a brilliant revelation, and the journey to find his alien tribe to be hilarious.

It’s also here where we see Tim Hill’s skill in making the inanimate characters lifelike. He understands how to shoot them so you believe it…and he gets the heart of the characters.

Don’t just stream this on Netflix by the way, find this on DVD if you can. It features Hill, along with Gonzo and Rizzo commenting on the film MST3K style and is one of the best riffs ever.

Last week

tv The FlashDoctor Who started the season slow. The Muppets is a disaster Gotham is disappointing.

Thank God for the Flash.

I can not say this enough. Thank God for the Flash or I might be done with TV again. Seriously, it’s the only show that makes me feel even remotely the way Doctor Who does; glued to the TV in wonder.

This season opener was shockingly strong. What’s amazing is that they came in so strong despite basically everything on the show having changed. Characters gone, roles changed, new jobs, new threats. That the show has held up so well, not only held up, but indeed managed to thrive is remarkable.

We were left on a bit of a cliffhanger last year and the premier took a risky approach, resolving it bit by bit using flashbacks spread over the first half hour of the episode. It shouldn’t have worked as well as it did but it kept me engrossed the entire time. We get set up very well for this season with Jay Garrek showing up in the final minuets (this is in the commercials, so I don’t consider it a spoiler) as wel as FINALLY seeing that circle behind the lightning bolt  go from red to white! My single biggest complaint on that costume and it’s gone!izombie

Seriously, considering my resistance to this show, I can’t believe it’s become one of my favorites. But it has a perfect balance of superheroics, humor, and drama. Indeed I wish the DC cinematic universe would pay more attention to it.

iZombie returned last night as well, not quite as great as the Flash, but you know what, it’s maintained it’s quality. It’s just as good this year as it was last year, and I’ve got no complaints.

I kind of dropped off the series last year after the Flash ended it’s season. It wasn’t intentional, I just forget to sit down to watch TV sometimes. Flash is a super strong lead in for iZombie and I think i kind of need it to keep up. I’m still going to have to go back and catch up, because I’ve obviously missed some major plot points, but still I didn’t feel too lost. There’s a very episodic feel to the show and you can almost ignore the story arcs here if you need to. I’m glad it’s back and look forward to watching it again this season.

Tuesday nights seems kind of crowed actually. It’s the night for the Muppets as well. Of course there’s just muppetsone little problem there, the Muppets still hasn’t really gotten better. It’s just to dark and cynical for me. This  episode revolves around Fozzie writing a bad script for the show. Kermit moans about how terrible it is and misleads him about it. The setup is actually very muppets, but the mean-spiritedness is not. The Kermit I know would have arrived at the conclusion to help Fozzie with his script far earlier, or would have just put it in the show anyhow because he’s a good guy. Kermit is love. But not so much on this show.

For the last three episodes, I’ve actually found the “B” storylines far more interesting and funny. This one has two of them. The first is Miss Piggy trying to get back at Christina Applegate for showing an embarrassing video of her on her show. And we’re back to mean-spirited. Piggy’s egotistical and kind of selfish, but her rage is usually expressed in a karate chop, I don’t know. Something just feels off here. The Gonzo storyline with him computer dating using a profile picture of Liam Hemsworth is much funnier. In fact the bits with Gonzo, Rizzo and Pepe have been the most consistently funny things in the show.

Overall it’s not working for me. It’s kind of like the Star Trek reboot. It’s not bad, it’s fun sometimes evern, but gothamit’s lost whatever made these characters special. It’s lost it’s soul. I more than half expect this show to get cancelled early. Mid-season at best.

I’ve said it already. Gotham this season is disappointing. It’s stayed firmly over the top, with out new Joker character firmly in the forefront. Here’s the problem:

Last year it felt like a cop drama set in the edges of the Batman universe. This year it feels like a Batman show, but without the Batman. You see where I’m going here? The more we focus on Jerome and Bruce, the more we really kind of miss Batman and the Joker. I didn’t miss them last year because it wasn’t about them. This year however, the series feels compelled to remind us “It’s a Batman show!”. Yeah. Okay. But there’s no Batman. There’s not going to BE any Batman. Not for a while anyhow – five, six years at least. And more importantly, that’s not what I signed on for. I signed on for a cop show, a crime show, I signed on for Law and Order : Gotham. And I doubted you. I thought “There’s no possible way they can maintain this for a full season…” and you proved me wrong!

But that was last year. This year, it’s a diffrent show, and I’m not really sure I like it as much. Jerome….it’s a half measure. It’s a network exec saying “We can’t have Batman without the Joker!” and they’re right. You can’t have Batman without the Joker. But the thing is….you don’t have Batman either. And all you do is remind us that you don’t have Batman and you don’t exactly have the Joker….this direction seems ill convinced.

doctor_who_series_9_poster_by_jasetheavenger-d8i3dtqIt’s not just the Joker focus, it’s the reduced focus on the Penguin – who was arguable the break-out character of last year. People LOVED Robin Lord Taylor, and it was a popularity that grew organically (As opposed to the very forced feel I get with Jerome). And seeing Nygma descend into madness… it’s no fun. I’d argue it’s not even accurate. The thing about the Riddler is that he’s super-smart, not that he’s a madman.

I guess it all comes back to my original thesis. This year, Gotham is just…disappointing.

I mentioned earlier that Doctor Who was starting slow. I stand by that staement. There were some stand out moments in the first story, but by the time we got to the back half of that two parter it had gotten awfully talky and convoluted. There’s a good idea in there, but it seems like they were more in love with discussing the idea than actually telling some kind of story.

This week’s ghost story was an improvement, but it still felt extremely average – not the sort of riveting, can’t-take-my eyes-off-the-screen storytelling I’m a bit more used to. Still, the thing about Doctor Who is, even when it’s average, it’s still so much better than most of the other things on TV. I like Capauldi and I REALLY prefer him in that hoodie. Good thing TheWalkingDeadPostertoo, it seems like he wears that far more than that white button down shirt.

More Doctor Who coming up on Saturday (Can you believe we’re already at the FOURTH episode this season? We’re a quarter of the way through!) and Walking Dead returns Sunday night. See you all there.

This week

tvVery much been waiting for this week, a lot of returning shows. Let’s start with the best one – Doctor who started up again Saturday!

I like Capauldi. As he settles into the role I find I like him more and more. This was a good story too. When he cried out to the child in the battle field “Tell me the name of the boy who will survive this!” and the missy-michelle-gomezboy replied with his name…it made my jaw drop.

As much as I don’t like the implications of the Master’s gender swap, I have to admit that Missy is the best incarnation of the character since Anthony Aniley. Possibly since even Roger Deglado. The further examination of her relationship with the Doctor was fascinating – Clara asked all the right questions. But what I love more than anything is the way this episode makes Missy one of the companions.  Now THAT’S brilliant. I’ve always preferred a crowded TARDIS with multiple companions, but to make the Master one of them? Perfect. From time to time he’s been a regular on the show and it just fits.

I do have to admit though, the whole bit with the doctor playing guitar felt like a bit too much for me. It feels like it belongs in a Pixar movie, not in Doctor Who. It’s the sort of thing cartoon characters do to make little kids laugh. Doctor Who kind of should be better than that.

Still, if that’s my biggest problem here, then we’re in good hands. The cliffhanger has me eagerly awaiting this week’s broadcast.


Gotham is back! But man, that was over the top this week wasn’t it?

My first thought seeing Barbra Keen in Arkham was to wonder if that was Harley. That speaks to the problem of jump starting this series again after another long break. Those hiatuses are killing us.

gothamI know it was all over the place so we knew to expect it, but I wasn’t thrilled about seeing the Joker here. Honestly he doesn’t need a backstory and I find him far more interesting without one.

But back to over the top. Seriously, how many times can Gordon lose his job and get it back? Our only glimpse of Edward nigma was him going crazy – a bit of a shame. He’s a fun character and I’d rather see more schtick with him, not just his deepening insanity. Penguin is still the show stealer, but he’s becoming a bit of a caricature of himself. This worries me.I know this is the rise of the villains, but a LOT of balls were tossed up in the air this episode. I do hope they follow them one at a time instead of giving up a bit of five different storylines each episode like a soap opera. I sold my wife on this series as a police procedural crime drama, and last year it was. In fact it was done so well it never even occurred to her that this might be a Batman show. I’d like to see them pull this back a bit, closer top that again. I’m still interested. Still engaged, and I definitely want to know what Bruce’s dad was doing in that cave office. I imagine this is where the court of Owls will come in.

image_5ba8fa2aSo, the Muppets. I guess my first reaction was “Is this the best they could do?”

I have been cautiously optimistic about this series the entire time and I very much want it to succeed. It does not bother me that they are not presented as kids characters. What bothers me that I didn’t find the new show funny.

There’s some notable exceptions. The gag about Zoot mistaking what kind of meeting it was and Fozzie describing the perils of going on dating websites referring to yourself as a Bear are great jokes that will make kids and adults laugh – for very different reasons. They need more of that. I liked the bit with Gonzo, Rizzo muppetsand Pepe previewing their Dancing with the Czars bit (and how good is it to see Pepe getting back into the act again? I missed him in the last two movies!). It’s funny and very Muppets. There’s a moment when Kermit tells the girlfriend “You don’t have to be funny every time you come into the writers room. The writers certainly arnt!” It’s a good gag, very Kermit…except there’s something in the delivery. In the past when he’s been critical of an act, it felt exasperated, flabbergasted. In this series it feels cynical. Exasperated is charming. Cynicism is not. Edgy and mature, but not charming – and I don’t think that’s the way people want to see these characters.The Daily Telegraph put it better : “The fundamental mistake multi-millionaire comedy genius Bill Prady has made is to assume that because grown-ups still harbour affection for The Muppets, they’ll automatically want to watch the characters in adult situations. We do not. We already hate our jobs, our relationships and our lives. We don’t want to see that frogs, pigs and bears have it just as miserable as the rest of us. ” Read the rest of thier review here :

I think I’d like this better as a special or a mini-series, rather than being the official incarnation. It’s not an inherently bad format, but it did fall flat for me. We’ll have to see if the fans (including me) can acclimate to it (but really, should we HAVE to work this hard to like something?). Then again, I just don’t understand the need to reinvent the wheel. Boom comics did a good job going back to basics and I still really miss that comic.
I don’t think ABC understands how to develop it. NBC took a shot at it ages ago (two years before Disney finally bought the property) and actually produced one of the best muppet specials ever (A very Muppet Christmas) and I wish they could have another shot at it. This isn’t that hard, why does everyone feel the need to reinvent the wheel? Bring back the Muppet theatre. Bring back the stage show and the backstage antics. That’s EXACTLY what NBC did. They built the theatre – FULL SIZE, and they were doing a big Christmas show to save the building from an evil developer (played by Joan Cusak). It just worked SOOOO Well. “A Very Muppet Christmas”. Don’t know how NBC got the rights that one year, but ABC has done everything since. Sometimes its okay, I liked OZ. Most of the time…well, I really don’t like any of their other comedies either.

I’m not alone in my concerns either, EW and the NY times join The Telegraph as less than optimistic about the show’s direction.

There is one thing to be happy about though, and I can’t say this enough. I am beyond pleased that Disney is using the property. Really that is a huge positive. It is a great shame that the previous owners let the franchise fall out of the public eye and did nothing with it from 1996 to 2002 ( and very little before or after that). Since Disney got them just over ten years ago we’ve see constant output and development, and when Imagine Dragons did the closing performance and we had the Electric Meyhem backing them up, animal playing the big drum with teh stage lights pouring down on him…yeah, some of the magic is still there. It’s why I’m goign to give this a bit more of a chance. Interested in seeing next weeks ratings for this show.