When the Muppets Are in the World

I’ve finished watching the first three seasons of the original Muppet Show, and while there were seasons after that (a total of five, I think), the others aren’t out on DVD. Season Four was originally supposed to be released in 2012, but it never was. I believe it’s due to copyright issues, and there were already a few segments missing even on the episodes that were released. Due to the way the show is set up, the omissions are pretty seamless, but the shows are noticeably shorter than usual. During the second season, the bit with Rowlf and Fozzie Bear playing a duet of “English Country Gardens” appeared twice, perhaps to replace something else in one of the cases. It’s difficult to explain the appeal of the Muppets, but fortunately I don’t have to. They’re just a lot of fun. Beth told me she didn’t find the show funny, but did like some of the guest stars. There was certainly an interesting combination of them, including ones who were at the height of their fame at the time as well as stars of yesteryear. Personally, I find the humor to be right up my alley: puns, absurd situations, and novelty songs. The fact that some of the jokes are intentionally terrible just adds to the fun. Although I can’t find the post, I seem to remember SamuraiFrog mentioning that another part of the appeal of some of the main Muppets is that they’re awkward at their chosen professions, but stick with it anyway. They’re also frequently characters who don’t totally fit in, and get their feelings hurt pretty easily. I can identify. While most of them have remained pretty consistent over the years, it’s interesting how some of them developed. Beth pointed out that, just as Mickey Mouse used to be mean in his earliest cartoons, Kermit the Frog could be as well. He wasn’t a prankster like early Mickey, but he could be a bit rude and underhanded with his employees. Both characters have essentially been made boring nice guys over the years, although more recent media are trying to change that. I also noticed that the show tends to shift on whether Miss Piggy is actually attractive in-universe or just thinks she is, and whether Kermit returns her affections.

While their relationship did develop over time, no one seems to think much of how Piggy can be physically abusive. Then again, Muppets seem to have a low sensitivity to physical pain. Yeah, I know they’re puppets, but they’re not puppets within the context of the show.

I also have to say I liked The Muppets on ABC, which I understand didn’t do very well in the ratings and it’s likely that it won’t get a second season, although there hasn’t been official word yet. I know some of the complaints about it were on how it was too adult, but The Muppet Show was intended for an adult audience as well. Sure, kids could and did watch and enjoy it, but it was always more grown-up than Sesame Street, and there was always relationship humor. And it’s not like the new show is full of blue jokes or anything, although there are some things you can get away with now that wouldn’t have been acceptable back in the seventies. I do remember reading about how the show runner for the latter part of the season worked in more references to classic Muppets and ways for the characters other than Piggy to be part of the show-within-a-show. Although the two most recent Muppet films tended to focus on the original cast, the ABC program has continued the trend from elsewhere of focusing heavily on Rizzo the Rat and Pepe the King Prawn.

I believe Rizzo was on The Muppet Show, but only in later episodes (i.e., the ones that aren’t on DVD); while Pepe was introduced in Muppets Tonight, along with Bobo the Bear. Uncle Deadly also plays a significant part as Piggy’s assistant.

I don’t know if the running gags of Sam the Eagle having a thing for Janice and Scooter being a mama’s boy were introduced just for this show or had some precedent, but I can’t recall them showing up in the first three Muppet Show seasons. I think Scooter said in some Muppet program that his mother was a parrot. The original recurring gag with him was that his uncle owned the theater, but they stopped referring to that after a while.

His Muppet Babies character was a computer geek, something they also referenced in The Muppets (the 2011 movie) by showing him working at Google.

The post title, by the way, comes from this Clickhole article. Beth is a particular fan of that site, so she’s not devoid of humor despite not enjoying the Muppets. She did say that she liked the ABC show better than The Muppet Show, I don’t think is a very common opinion.

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3 Responses to When the Muppets Are in the World

  1. The thing that’s both good and bad about the original Muppet show is it’s a sketch show, so you sometimes get moments of greatness in the same ep as moments of mediocrity. So you somehow never find yourself thinking “that was a great episode!” at the end, just “that was a great bit!” in yhe middle or in retrospect. Which also makes nostalgia make the show seem better than it was. Not so say it wasn’t great as a whole, just not consistently great. I think that may have turned people off to The Current Muppets too, because their expectations were out of whack from nostalgia. But as I’ve mentioned, I haven’t been keeping up with the new show to judge as a whole.

  2. Pingback: Why Don’t You Get Things Started? | VoVatia

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