Thursday, 16 February 2012

177, The Muppets

The Muppet show as we know it only ran for 5 series.  4 years of fun and laughter between 1976 & 1980 is all it took to get the world hooked on Kermit, Piggy and the rest of Henson's marvellous creations.  I remember it vividly as the drums rolled, the curtain rose and a cute green frog introduced the Muppet Show.  On they marched, stacked symetrically in their tiered arches, Waldorf and Statler mocking from the box as The Great Gonzo was lowered down in the 'O' of ShOw with his trumpet held high and the lure of a celebrity host.  It was enough to make the toughest nut crack.

Well, 119 episodes had to end sometime and once the show closed its doors we were treated to some small offerings / movies between 1981 & 2005 but since then, nothing.

That is until Jason Segal came along.  Co-writing and producing the Muppet Movie that stands before us in 2012 he must have been one serious fan as this is a true labour of love and what he's done is tried do his best to bring back the original Muppet Show to a new audience but the real question is has he managed it?

Well, sadly only in part.  Yes there is no denying the Muppet's were great fun.  ALL the characters are back and aside from the ones you will easily remember there are the ones that you wont.  Beauregard the caretaker, Dr Teeth & Zoot to name a few.

As for the plot, we are introduced to Gary (Segal) and his brother Walter, who is a Muppet.  All quite normal as the Muppet's are obviously 'real' and the fact that Segal is related to one seems to raise no questions, so none are asked and its just 'accepted'.  As they grow older together their favourite show is the Muppet Show, every Saturday night they tune in and Walter soon becomes their biggest fan. 

Years go by and once adult, Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) set off to LA for their 10 year anniversary taking Walter along to see the famous Muppet Studio.  But, as in life, nothing good lasts forever and the Muppet Theatre is a run down scrapyard, the Muppet's all but forgotten.  Walter discovers a plot that wealthy Oil baron, Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) plans to flatten the Theatre and drill for oil unless Kermit and the Muppet's can raise $10mil to save the Theatre. 

Off we go on a trek to collect the now disbanded Muppet's from obscurity and bring them back for one final Muppet Telethon where people call to donate to save the once loved phenomenon (Doo do do doo do........sorry!)

That's the good bit. 

The bit that for me let it down were the impromptu musical numbers played out by Segal and Adams that would have made the cast of Glee cringe.  They were awful!  Thanks to this movie (and I'm being sarcastic here) I have been subject to random outbursts of "Am I a Man or a Muppet" since leaving the Theatre that I cant get out of my head and my daughters regular renditions of Camelia the Chickens 'Forget you' (Cee-Lo Green) are starting to drive me insane. 

Yes they are cheesy but it's then and only then that I remember that this is not specifically aimed at my 35 year old self, but more the 8 year old sitting next to me ...and she loved every minute of it.  And dont worry Amy, I'm sure you'll redeem yourself soon xoxo

Yes this is nostalgic.  When the final section of the movie arrives and Kermit launches the opening scenes to the Muppet Show and the fanfare blasts out and the Muppet's parade on in their rows upon rows of arches with Gonzo and his trumpet I suddenly digressed back to childhood where a Wii was something only done in the bathroom and TV only had 4 channels.

There are some redeeming features though that help claw back some sanity from Adams and Segal's tacky interludes and that's the number of celebs that have also signed up to help out.  Some with actual roles like the brilliant jibe at Devil Wears Prada, complete with bitchy Emily Blunt reprising her same role, Alan Arkin as the Tour guide to the now empty studios and Jack Black, playing himself as Animal's co-sponser in Re-hab but they are the easy ones to spot.  Keep an eye out for a number of far more hidden gems like Dave Grohl (Foo fighters) as Animool, the drummer from wannabe band the Moopets and Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Joe. 

Then there's Selena Gomez (Little 'Miss' Disney), Whoopi Goldberg (Legend), Doogie Howser (Don't know his real name), Ken Jeong (Hangover), Judd Hirsch (Numbers), The mexican kid from Modern Family (Duh! Modern Family!), Mickey Rooney (Old Man) and many more.

These were welcome little additions that made it more of a jovial romp through childhood and an ability to laugh at themselves just having fun - although fun is one thing, but Chris Coopers rap is something I would care never to see again as long as I live - shame on you!

There are moments that the adults will enjoy but there are just as many you wont but for your kids, the new audience to the Muppet's - well its got everything they want and more. 

Lets hope the show comes back on now as a result - Friday (or Saturday) nights have never really been the same since the A-Team, Street Hawk, Airwolf and The Muppets left the stage. 

Some blogs are over in a few lines but as this one took all of nearly 40 years in the making its worthy of a little more web-space.  Hope you didnt mind?

80's TV - we love you!  Long live the Muppets.