What’s Wrong with ‘The Muppets’?

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Originally posted on Reel World Theology.

“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!”

When I heard that the Muppets were returning to TV, I was elated. Being a fan from way back, I adore the Muppets and their brand of lovable, good-natured mayhem. The original Muppet Show is still a joy to watch. The films are great – some more than others, of course. And the 2011 film welcoming Kermit and the gang back to the big screen was a clear return to form and purpose for these characters.

Moreover, I have always loved these characters because of what they represented: free-wheeling imagination coupled with innocent, satirical humor. Like most successful geniuses in entertainment, Jim Henson had a definite talent of making outside-the-box ideas palatable by peppering them with familiar tropes and cultural staples. Even the pitch reel for The Muppet Show (performed by Henson himself) reflected this seemingly chaotic blend to great effect:

The Muppet Show was indeed the penultimate Muppet experience – a musical variety show with hilarious behind-the-scenes interstitials that was always on the verge of descending into anarchy, save for Kermit’s fretful herding.

But to my dismay, this new Muppet TV show is not Jim Henson’s Muppets. This is Disney trying very hard to make the Muppets be something they aren’t.

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