#39 This year I'm going to watch all the Muppets.
Due Date: 2-8-2015
Resolution: The Muppet Show was brought up on the podcast (Pop Everything) I was listening to on yesterday's walk. I remember really liking the show as a kid and if you asked me today I'd say I still love The Muppet Show, but I have no proof of this. Other than characters I couldn't tell you one thing that happened on that show.
At the time this was just a passing thought. Then I got home from the walk, posted some updates, got some writing in and then decided to take a break. Lately breaks mean I start up a movie, sit down and knit as part of my Panchos for Penguins resolution and my creative gift exchange resolution.
I know it's not really a break because I'm still working towards completing another resolution but it's pretty relaxing and I look forward to it so I'll happily consider it a break. Then I started to think that I should create a resolution to watch something during these "breaks." That would ease any of my slacker guilt.
That's when the, "You put your chocolate in my peanut butter," moment hit me, and here we are.
What I consider to be "All the Muppets":
I went to the Wikipedia to find a list of all the Muppet media and there’s a lot of stuff. I'm going to try to get through a lot of it, but I don't know if I want this resolution hanging in limbo because I can't track down season four of The Muppet Babies.
In order to be able to move this resolution over the Success!!! column I will watch:
- All five season of the original The Muppet Show.
- The Muppet Movie.
- The Great Muppet Caper.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol.
- Muppet Treasure Island,
- Muppets From Space.
- The Muppets.
- Muppets Most Wanted
This covers the original show and all the theatrical released movie. I'll try to track down as many of the TV specials, web series and other appearances as I can for bonus points, but I'm more interested in their main body of work for the win.
Update #1: The Pilot Episode.
Last night I tracked down the Pilot Episode of The Muppet Show and I have to admit for that half hour I was afraid of what I was getting myself into. Let me explain.
First I was surprised that the very first thing we see is a giant structure that reads Sex and Violence.
At first I was thinking that maybe the Muppets were a lot more adult than I remembered as a kid. Then right away they blow this thing up claiming that this is going to be the end of Sex and Violence on TV.
That's not the part that bothered me. What bothered me was that there was no Kermit, no Miss Piggy, no Fozzy, other than a few cameos none of the Muppets that I claim to love were featured at all.
Instead there was a Kermit like guy named Nigel, Sam the Eagle, and members of the Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem band. There was kind of a feeling that they were planning on putting on a show like in The Muppet Show that I'm used to, but instead of going from performance to performance the pilot jumps all over the place almost like a crazy Adult Swim show.
I feared that I would have to put up with this show structure for several episodes until they found their groove. Luckily the pilot ended and the first episode of the regular series began and that was the Muppets that well all know. I was very relieved.
And now for some more detailed observations.
- 02:25 - The jokes in the pilot are very punny and not in a good way like they are in the regular series.
- 03:15 - I never realized that the Swedish Chef had human hands until it was pointed out in the podcast that inspired this resolution.
- 04:54 - The Dr. Teeth performance goes on for way too long.
- 07:38 - It's weird to see Statler and Waldorf outside of their booth, but I was happy to see them!
- 08:20 - Kermit shows up with something that looks like Miss Piggy?
- 01:20 - Matthew McConaughey shows up for a bit.
- 04:07 - There is a lot more random gibberish than I feel there is in the regular seasons. It seems half the skits were just Muppets making noises.
- 06:06 - Bert and Ernie make an appearance in a skit that seems to add a clue as to whether or not they are actually a couple.
- 06:15 - Statler and Waldorf have a laughing fit that had to have been an inspiration subliminally or not to Mike Judge when he created Beavis and Butthead.
- 08:15 - Gene Shallot shows up and I think we see Miss Piggy as he reviews the start of Pigs in Space.
- And here's part three just so you have it all.
I found the pilot interesting because it is great to see the jump off point, but as I said I was bored and afraid that it would take a while for the regular series to evolve away from being this type of show.
I then watched three episodes of the regular series and was pleased to see clues that I actually do like the Muppets and don't just like to say that.
The only thing that really stood out to me while watching the regular series is that I think the Muppets may have invented twerking.
Go to 01:12 to see Lydia twert.
I'll keep you posted on my future finding!
Update #2: Season 1 episode 10
I have The Muppet Show playing as I work on my homework assignment and I have to say; so far this is my favorite episode:
I forgot just how big of a fan of Harvey Korman I was growing up. Whether he was on The Carol Burnett Show or in a Mel Brooks movie he always seemed to be a part of something that made me laugh and I was happy to take a break to watch him goof around with these fuzzy critters.
Update #3: Season 1 Episode 19
This episode with Vincent Price is making my list of favorites!
Update #4: Season 1 of The Muppet Show, Done!!!
I can't tell you how happy I was that season one of The Muppet Show ended with Mummenschanz. I can't tell you how many blank faces I've into as I've tried to explain who these people were. I don't even know how or why, but I manage to reference Mummenschanz in conversation at least once a year. I wasn't even really a fan of them as a child, if anything I thought they were bizarre and hated them but they always stuck in my mind. Maybe a part of me knew that I would eventually become a fan of the surreal.
Update #5: Season 2
Last night I watched the first three episodes of season two of The Muppet Show. The hosts where Don Knotts, some opera guy and Uncle Milty.
I was entertained by the Don Knotts episode. He's another one of those guys that I thought was funny when I was a kid. This episode also had one on my new favorite songs.
The opera guy was okay, but nothing to memorable. Then there was Uncle Milty. While watching this I discovered that I can't stand that old guy talk singing, for what ever reason it just seems gross to me.
Update #6: More thoughts on Season 2.
The first episode that I watched was hosted by Rich Little. I remember him as a kid doing Ronald Reagan and Johnny Carson impersonations. I was young so I think I put him under the category of old goofy people. Other than Reagan and Carson I don't really think I knew all the other people he impersonated back in the day so I assumed he was real good at it.
Now that I'm older and actually knew some of the people he was impersonating on the Muppet show I have a question for those of you who are older than me. Did you guys really think he was a good impersonator, or was the fact that he was doing horrible impersonations this shtick? I ask because even the Muppet's that weren't Statler and Waldorf would goof on him and guess the wrong person during his impersonations.
Watch the opening couple minutes then go to 5:25 to see for yourself just how horrible he is:
Is it intentional or is he just that annoying guy at a party delivering catch phrases and managed to get on TV for a bit?
I watched two more episodes and they were fine.
This is my favorite clip of the night. If you're and animal lover you'll find it to be a favorite as well :)
Update #7: This has to be the best of Season 2
Last night I watched the movie Sophie's Choice as part of my resolution to watch all the movies on the AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time so I needed some cheering up. As soon as the movie was over I fired up episode 7 of Season 2 of The Muppet Show.
This probably wasn't a best episode to start out with. If the Muppet's are teaching me anything its that I've grown intolerant of these old guys who were famous when I was a kid who's acts went all the way back to Vaudeville.
Though I'm loving my time spent with the Muppets this episode also opened my eyes to the fact that I don't like puppets. The host was some old ventriloquist who I swear wasn't even trying to hide the fact that his lips were moving. Though I have to admit that is one of my favorite aspects of the comedian Otto and George, where it seems that the dummy is almost an after though.
Though I wasn't a fan of the host I was a fan of this vignette where they did an amazing cover of Time in a Bottle.
This episode ended and the next episode began.
The host: Steve Martin!!!
Again I'm realizing more about myself and that even though I'm a big fan of Steve Martin's acting and writing it turns out I'm not a fan of his stage work. I'm sure most of this has to do with time and the fact that I've run into so many people who try and emulate his high energy antics out in the real world who think they're pulling it off, and may be to their close friends, but are a little too intense for me coming from a stranger. I'm all for that high energy amongst friends, but strangers scare me enough as it is.
It was still a good episode. I had fun watching the Muppets in the audience watching their potential replacements pointing out their own flaws and insecurities. It was also great to see Statler and Waldorf get out of the booth and dance!
I fell asleep soon after the Steve Martin episode then woke early feeling good. I wished I could go back to sleep for at least an hour, but knew this was going to be a day of slow waking with no naps, so I fired up The Muppet Show again.
Madeline Kahn was the host of episode 9. I was struck with mixed feelings of being happy to see her remembering that she was one of my early celebrity crushes, then the sad feelings of remembering that she passed away years ago.
This episode also solidified my love of Gonzo, especially in these early years where he wasn't the high energy freak show that he's become and was more the reflective insecure freak show in training. He performed this song that damn near broke my heart.
This was followed by an episode hosted by Dom DeLuise another comedic actor that I am a fan of due to my love of old Mel Brooks movies.
That's where the marathon ended for the day. I'm sure I'll get back to it at some point in the day.
Update #8: More Season 2 of the Muppets.
Last night I watched another four episodes of The Muppet Show Season 2. They were all fine shows but there was only one thing that really stood out to me.
It's been kind of amazing to see how much this show has to deal with self-doubt, insecurities and loneliness. I couldn't help but think how this has to at least partially be caused by the years of telling people this concepts of talking socks could be a success only to get laughed at a rejected. Those doubts then carried over to Jim Henson's work.
It'll be interesting to see when the characters transition into their more confident selves that we all know today. Granted most of the Muppets continue to be insecure, but there seems to be way more sadness in how they express this doubt in these early episodes.
This was the amazing clip of the night:
Update #9: Season 3: Confidence Builds.
I'm now ten episodes into season three of The Muppet Show. I have to admit that I don't like this season as much as I like the first two. That's not to say that I no longer like the show, I think this is just when the Muppets hit that stage every good TV show eventually goes through.
The first two seasons seemed to be filled with the charm of characters that are uncertain of their place in the world. You get the sense that Jim Henson was aware that he had to prove himself. There is a bipolar mix of fun that comes from a sense of, "I can't believe they're giving me the chance to do what I love," to the heartbreaking sense of, "I fought for this and they can take it away any day now."
I think all good shows go through this. Both the writers and the actors have an idea of who their characters are and why the people like them, but they are unsure and constantly testing the waters. Then inevitably everyone thinks they figure it out. Even though they hit all the points that the audience fell in love with, something is lost in this new sense of awareness.
If a show is good then eventually the lesson is learned and the characters become real. Season three of The Muppet Show seems to be this season of awareness.
That said I loved the Gilda Radner episode. I grew up a huge fan of Saturday Night Live and was a big fan of her. I particularly loved the ongoing Ig Glue joke and building consequences of said joke.
Update #10: Finished up season three.
Last night I watched the final ten episodes of the third season of The Muppet Show. As I pointed out in my last update, I'm still a fan and I'm entertained by the show, but I like the show in a different way.
As season three progresses the show becomes more and more of a straight forward comedy. I think what I really liked about the first two seasons is that there were a lot more moments where we saw the performance on the stage and then got to see the performer off the stage.
I really liked how we saw the doubt and anxiety of the performs as they prepared for their act then see them pull it together and perform with confidence while on stage. Even if the acted ended in failure you felt the characters were growing.
I feel that starting a season three there is no longer a difference between the Muppets when they’re on the stage and when they’re off. This consistency in character makes it so that the entire episode is filled with high energy fun, but I felt the moody bipolar Muppets of the first two seasons had more charm.
Again I still like the show, it's just evolved into something different, which television shows tend to do when they become popular. I think I mentioned this in my last up date as well but it also happens with time as the writers and performs grow and morph into a character based purely on the positive feedback and ignoring the subtleties that no one may even be aware of.
My favorite thing of this last batch of season three is, during the end of one of the episodes Kermit says, "You've been a wonderful laugh track." This made me laugh because I genuinely thought there was a live audience when I was a kid.
I can't wait to see what season four has in store!
Update #11: The start to season four.
I've been watching Season Four of The Muppet Show over the past couple nights. I pointed out that I wasn't as big of a fan of Season Three because the show seemed to be in a transitional phase between the moody/charming shows from Seasons One and Two, into a more confident/straight forward comedy show.
Season Four feels like the transition is complete and they found theie groove again. The show continues to be even more of a comedy than the earlier episodes but in a way that feels like they actually found their voice and are not playing to the what they think the audience wants to see.
I don't really have examples I just find that I'm fully enjoying the show again.
Oh, this was funny.
Update #12: I love everything Statler And Waldorf
You know how I was saying that by Season 4 of The Muppet Show the show seemed to movie away from it's moody sentimental beginnings to more of a straight forward comedy? Right after I posted last night update about the Muppets I fired up a couple episodes and was hit with this gem.
I love these two old codgers.
Update #13: The Great Gonzo
Some of The Muppet Show episodes I watch start with a brief intro explaining the show's history. Last night while watching episode 11 of season 4, an episode where Gonzo leaves to become a big movie star, because of this the show started with a brief recap of Gonzo's history.
I found it interesting because they pointed out exactly what I've been talking about. They said in season one he had very sad eye. His operator then decided to redesign Gonzo to have working eye lids turning him into a more high energy star where he used to be a loveable chump.
Though I still love Gonzo, I miss the loveable chump aspect which will always peek through.
This episode also featured this Gonzo singing My Way which saddened me as I related it to his transition into being more acceptable by the majority.
Update #14: Four seasons down one to go, then on to the movies!!!
Where Season 3 of The Muppet Show started to lose me Season 4 won me back.
I hate wording it this way because as I've pointed out in other updates; I liked Season 3. Sorry if I seem hung up on defending the ability to find flaw in a show while liking it at the same time.
Through out the years I've witnessed many fans of many shows turn on them because of a "not as good" season. They then give up on the show entirely only to eventually end up hating the show all together.
I don't want to be that person.
As someone who is bipolar I fear that people not only do this with shows, bands, books... (pretty much anything that can be serialized) but they also do this with people.
Have few bad seasons and you start to lose them. You try to go back to what you think they like but it's not the same so you feel canceled. You're only hope is to get out of your rut, find a new network and hopefully bring some of the true fan along.
I've also done this myself and miss some of these shows.
Oh, and also it was cool to have Luke Skywalker, Superman and Wonder Woman host the show back to back to back!
Update #15: I'm done with Season 5 that means it's on to the movies!
Last night I watch the conclusion of the fifth and final season of The Muppet Show. I think this was my least favorite season of the bunch. Again I was still entertained and still like enjoyed watching the show it's just that some seasons are better than others.
Here is my ranking of the seasons of The Muppet Show.
- Season 2: I like this season the most because it's quirky, dark and moody. The writers and the characters still seemed to be trying to find their voices which is always a charming phase of serialized television.
- Season 1: I like this season for the same reasons I like Season Two, only there are still a few kinks that needed to be worked out as the characters get introduced.
- Season 4: They lost me a little in the third season when it felt they were veering away from the dark/moody elements. Season 4 felt more like a solid comedy and all the kinks that were created in becoming less of a moody show seemed to have worked themselves out.
- Season 3: See above. I understand that the Muppets are meant to be for both children and adults so I understand why they chose to lighten it up. This is why I have to reiterate that just because this season is low in my rankings it's not because I dislike it.
- Season 5: And again in a ranking system someone has to come in last. I liked this season but it felt like the writers and performs exaggerated the subtleties in the character charming in an attempt to please the audience and not to add value to the characters. Though they still have charm it's just different.
There was one thing that I actually hated about Season 5 of The Muppet Show. In this season they had is a new old guy who introduces each episode. I preferred Scooter's intros and felt angry ever time I saw this old Muppet.
I did like seeing Carol Burnett, Marty Feldman, Senor Wences, and some guy who was apparently a famous balloon twister at the time.
I look forward to getting to the movies!!!
Update #16: The Muppet Movie.
Going into this resolution I never had any doubts as to whether or not I liked The Muppet Movie. Of all the things that the Muppets have done this is by far my favorite. I would love for one of their other movies to sneak in and win the top position but I don't see that happening.
I think The Muppet Movie has to be the best origins stories of all time. I don't have much more to say about it other than it's fun. I don't even mind all the cheesy puns and love all the crazy cameos. Usually these are tell tale signs that something wrong, but it works when it comes to Muppets.
My favorite line will always be when Dr. Teeth as Fozzie says, "They don't look like Presbyterians to me."
My most interesting finding during this viewing is when Kermit and Piggy are on a date. Piggy excuses herself and says she is going to use the phone real quick. Kermit takes it as such abandonment that as she gone he meets Rowlf and starts singing, "I hope that something better comes along."
From there on out Kermit is done with Piggy. Now this is a character I can relate to. Granted she does end up bailing on him only to return when she's in need, I just found it funny how little it took for him to flip.
The Muppet Movie and The Muppets take Manhattan are the only two Muppet movies I am really familiar with. I can't wait to check out the rest.
Update #17: The Great Muppet Caper.
Where I always had fond memories of The Muppet Movie, I feel The Great Muppet Caper rubbed me wrong even as a child. I've only seen the movie once or twice as a kid, but unlike the rest of the Muppet movies I never had any interest in revisiting The Great Muppet Caper as an adult.
During last night's viewing I think I figured out why.
This movie's confusing.
The overall story is pretty straight forward and easy to follow. It's fun and funny just like the rest of the Muppet's work. The thing that's confusing is...
WHY ARE THEY IN LONDON?
Story-wise it's set up and makes sense, but other than a few cameos from a handful of famous Brits, Kermit and the gang deal with nothing but American actors, actors that don't even attempt to put on an accent. All the Muppets that they run into are the same US Muppets that they meet in the first movie. I don't think there's a single European Muppet in the bunch. Well, except for the few European Muppets that live in America.
Other than the fact that the atmosphere of London is more suited for a jewel heist there is absolutely no reason why this couldn't have been set in America, OR set in London with British actors.
It doesn’t make sense.
Again it's a fun movie but the London aspect drove me crazy.
Update #18: The Muppets Take Manhattan
Last night was the second time I watched The Muppets Take Manhattan in the past two years. It's just as fun as all the other Muppet material. I like it more than I like The Great Muppet Caper, but there is one thing about this movie that drives me crazy.
The movie starts with several of the characters graduating. Kermit is ready to go out and start his life. All the other Muppets team up to talk him into putting his life on pause to head to New York to try to at making it on Broadway. He hesitates for a second but once he agrees he 100% into the game plan. He even takes the lead and lines up a meeting with a producer.
This producer ends up being a fraud. All the Muppets are defeated by this first failure and decide it will be best to abandon Kermit and part ways. Kermit's still enthusiastic and committed to the game plan even though he's caught off guard by this abandonment.
While everyone else is out feeling sorry for themselves Kermit continues to plug along to try to get this play produced. All these other Muppets seem to have written off the friendship. Yeah their lives suck, but they seem ready to ride out their misery alone.
Then Kermit strikes a deal to put on the play. He sends out telegraphs to let everyone know that he's struck a deal. Everyone instantly drops what they are doing to return to Manhattan once they get the news.
This angers me because the Muppets abandoned their friend when things got tough and are right their the moment the friendship becomes beneficial again. Are the Muppets nothing more than a bunch fairweather friends. It bothers me more that this movie makes it seem like this type of behavior is acceptable and should be celebrated as long as everything works out in the end.
Other than that aspect it's a fun movie.
Update #19: The Muppet Christmas Carol.
I think I've only seen The Muppet Christmas Carol once, maybe twice. This is one of the Muppet features that I wasn't really looking forward to watching. In general I'm not a big fan of pop culture's take on the classics.
For some reason in this style of adaptation there is a lot of nodding and winking toward to the camera as the characters break the fourth wall. This acknowledgement emphasizes the fact that the characters are aware they are in the telling of the classical tale they are recreating and not the the actual person they are supposed to be playing.
Though there was a lot of breaking of the fourth wall in The Muppet Christmas Carol I found that I didn't mind. The Muppets break the fourth wall all the time so it felt fitting and not as if they were patting themselves on the back for making a reference within a reference.
It turns out that all my fears were for nothing. I really liked this telling of A Christmas Carol. First off it's a good story to begin with. I've liked most tellings of this Dickens classic. I think my favorite has to be Scrooged with The Muppet Christmas Carol in a close second. Though the Muppets could easily become number one in my books since I haven't seen Scrooged in years and have no idea how it stands up to the test of time.
Oh yeah, I also love how much Gonzo is featured in this tale. I'm pretty sure I'll be turning The Muppet Christmas Carol into a holiday tradition in some way or another, being that it's now my second favorite of the Muppet features and my new second (potentially first) favorite Scrooge story!
Update #20: Muppet Treasure Island.
I had almost the same exact response to Muppet Treasure Island that I had to The Muppet Christmas Carol. I think I saw it when it first came out, but never really thought about it until it ended up on this list.
I think I figured out why these two installments of the Muppets didn't work for me as well as the rest. This happens in both movies but it stood out in Muppet Treasure Island more. These two movies aren't about the Muppets. The Muppet Christmas Carol was about Scrooge and Muppet Treasure Island was about the little boy.
I don't want to see that.
I want to see tales of Muppets navigating the world of the story. Almost every movie is about humans. Why ruin the perfect opportunity to explore by following some kid.
You got Muppets!
Let them run the show.
Other than that it's a fun movie.
Update #21: Muppets From Space
It turns out I have a new second favorite Muppet movie! Of course the original The Muppet Movie will always be my favorite but Muppets From Space is my new second favorite.
Piecing together my history with the Muppets, I think I hated Muppet Treasure Island when it came out. As I pointed out in my review of that movie, I wasn't a big fan because it seemed to focus too much on the kid and not enough on the Muppets.
By the time Muppets From Space came out I was in my early twenties, angry with this human centric route that I felt the Muppets were headed and decided this was going to be the installment of the Muppets that I would give up on. Even though multiple people told me I would love this movie, I had my doubt.
Six years later I found myself in a theater assisting my Writing for Sketch Comedy teacher set up for a show she was performing in. They were testing the Audio Video system and using a copy of Muppets From Space as their guinea pig. From the few moments I saw I knew that I owed multiple people an apology for doubting their recommendation.
I still managed to avoid seeing the movie in it's entirety until last night.
I really loved Muppets From Space and am kind of glad that I managed to wait until this stage of my life to finally view this tale of self discovery. As a weirdo I often wonder where I fit in the world and have wished for fellow aliens to show up and take me away on multiple occasions. It was fun to see how this would play out if I happened to be a blue, chicken loving, freak show.
I also love how Gonzo snuck in to become the Muppet star of the last three Muppet movies that I watched, the narrator in both The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island and the out right star of Muppets From Space. He's definitely my favorite.
I've got two more movies to watch to be all caught up with the Muppets. I really hope this Gonzo trend holds up.
Update #22: The Muppets
I have such mixed feeling about this installment of the Muppets.
First off as you know, I've discovered that I'm genuinely a fan of the Muppets. I'm also a fan of Jason Segel, romantic comedies and Amy Adams, so none of my negative opinions stem from a backlash toward any individual aspect of this film.
I know Walter is A Muppet, but he's just not a THE Muppets, so when it took about a half hour of following Water before we even got to see a The Muppets, I wasn't all that happy. This was my problem with The Muppets Christmas Carol and Muppets Treasure Island. The Muppets are nothing more than background characters in these movies. I want to learn more about the Muppet's "A storyline" lives, not just their appearance in some subplot.
Other than that aspect I really liked The Muppets. It's pretty funny. I don't like Walter though, he'll have to do something pretty crazy to win me over as a fan. All I've got to see now is Muppets Most Wanted. I hope it's not all about Walter.
Update #23: Muppets Most Wanted
This is another case where I watched the movie months ago but unfortunately didn't write a review right away. Fortunately this resolution isn't about the reviews but whether or not I truly like the Muppets.
It turns out I do and even though I don't remember all my thoughts on Muppets Most Wanted, I remember liking it. I felt it was more OG Muppet based and had less to do with Walter or any of the humans.
I'd be happy to watch it again and now that I'm living back home with a nephew I probably will.
Update #24: The Conclusion.
Well, I've now seen all the Muppet Shows and all the theatrically released Muppet movies and can honestly say that I'm a fan.
Here's what else I learned.
- Favorite Muppet? Gonzo
- Favorite season of The Muppet Show? Season 2
- Favorite movie? The Muppet Movie
- Favorite non-nostalgia based favorite movie? Muppets From Space
There you have it.