Why I won't be watching 'The Muppets' on TV again

Why I won't be watching 'The Muppets' on TV again
Source: Reusableart.com

Last Tuesday, I was waiting eagerly for the premiere of “The Muppets” on ABC-TV (Chicago’s Channel 7). I was a little old for “Sesame Street,” but I loved “The Muppet Show” of later decades.

I spent last Tuesday with the old show’s theme song rattling around in my mind’s ear:

“It’s time to play the music!

It’s time to light the lights!

It’s time to raise the curtain

on ‘The Muppet Show’ tonight!”

Well, stop the music, dim the lights, and drop the curtain. I won’t be watching the second episode of the new version of “The Muppets.”

I was  stunned by how bad the new show is. Instead of counting the ways, let me tell you the words — the words for qualities I expected, and missed, in the program’s premiere:

Liveliness — The new show was slow and dull. My dictionary says “lively” is “full of life; active; vigorous.” It also lists “lifelike” as a rare definition. The active Muppet characters I expected were neither active nor vigorous, and surrounding them with so many humans takes away the “lifelike” side of the definition.

Originality — Instead of the characters “being themselves,” the cast imitated a documentary style which (I’m told) was used in the show “The Office.” So much for one of the great qualities of the old “Muppet Show,” originality — “the quality or state of being original.” (P.S. “The Office” itself has been canceled.)

Silliness — There was one good silly moment, two Russian mice “Dancing with the Czars” when the host of “Dancing with the Stars,” Tom Bergeron, was one of the human characters nearby. I expected much more silliness on that level, the dictionary’s “quality or state of being silly,” which is itself “having or showing little sense, judgment or subtlety.” I watch the Muppets to laugh, not to have to figure things out.

Wit — The old formula of one or two humans in a sea of Muppets was fodder for wittier situations than the new setup, single Muppets in various places in the human world.

Innocence — Romantic breakups, Kermit? Fozzie Bear meeting his human girlfriend’s family? The whole “adult” tone of the new show is just unbelievable, especially compared to the light touch of the Kermit/Miss Piggy romance of the old days. This isn’t more than I want to know, it’s more than I can believe.

Fun — Silliness, wit and general anarchy once made the Muppets wonderful satirists of science fiction (“Pigs in Spaaaaaaace!”), music, and anything else within their range. Now, when the world so badly needs a laugh, it seems that these Muppets have no sense of fun.

So I’ll have better things to do with my Tuesday evening. I’m sorry about that.

For more fun with words, stop by the Margaret Serious page on Facebook.

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  • I didn't watch it, but it sounds pretty lame. I might take a look just to see what you are talking about! It will probably be on Hulu which is where I watch most shows, since my son seems to have control of our 1 TV most of the time!

  • In reply to Leslie Kahn:

    "Lame" is a good word here, Leslie. Don't say I didn't warn you, but on the other hand, rebuttals are welcome!

  • I can't stop watching based on the pilot. I will have to go through at least 3-4 episodes before judging it. I chuckled a few times in the pilot for nostalgia's sake but I'm hoping it does get better too.

  • In reply to Tim Falletti:

    Thanks for stopping by, Tim. I appreciate your review -- and your willingness to continue in hope. Rebuttal reviews are welcome.

  • The old "music hall" idea wasn't that original. I had the joke "What killed vaudeville? Fozzie Bear."

    I was doing something else last week, but I'll see if this is more like the Muppet Show or the movies, in the latter of which I lost interest.

    Also, I know I am getting too old when there is a PBS documentary about Jim Henson.

  • In reply to jack:

    I saw the documentary, too, Jack, and I agree with your reaction there. I know that the "music hall" idea wasn't original, but what they did with it was -- it was a cross between the usual music-hall setup and Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "Let's put on a show!" movies, as far as I could tell.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I guess Fozzie was Mickey, but darn if I know who the other Muppets were playing.

  • After watching the second episode, there was a lot of action, and Kermit is still the producer, but...
    ...the logo for Miss Piggy's show was ripped off from Conan O'Brien.
    ...it would have made more sense for the newsman to be on a news set, Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker to be in a lab, and The Swedish Chef to be in a kitchen with a chicken. The last two instances used to provide an opportunity to blow up something.
    ...Fozzie should have exchanged stand-up stories with Jay Leno rather than mess it up.

    I guess that's what happens when the franchise is sold to corporate.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for your report on the second episode, Jack. I had wondered about it, even though I kept my word and didn't watch.

  • Channel surfing between football summary shows, ABC reran the two episodes last night. I don't think the image of Elizabeth Banks leaving an apparently unconscious full-body Scooter on the pavement was for the kiddies. But then back to Denver vs. Minnesota highlights.

  • In reply to jack:

    Uh-oh, two reruns already? That doesn't look like a vote of confidence. I'm with you on that "accident" with Scooter -- unpleasant at any age.

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