New Muppet show wreaks mayhem

By Melanie Yingst

I never thought it would come down to this.

This week, ABC debuted the pilot revival of “The Muppet Show.”

And I was excited about it. Until … it bombed.

I didn’t know a television show featuring felt-covered foam could proverbially “jump the shark” on its very first episode, but that is exactly what happened to my dear, lovable puppet pals.

Instead, they were replaced with hardened, crass, passive aggressive shells of their former foam-filled, fun-lovin’ selves.

In the opening scene, Bunsen uses a Tazer on Beaker. A. Tazer. Sure Beaker gets a lot of abuse, but Bunsen usually isn’t practicing police brutality tactics on his science lab partner right off the bat.

Miss Piggy’s opening lines immediately crowned her the Queen of Muppet Mean. She was whiny, annoyed and demanding. She belittles the human make-up artist, makes absurd diva requests (sorta laughable) and dismisses the star power of Hollywood A-listers. OK so her qualities wasn’t totally out of character, but there was such an edge and “bite” to her that she was no longer the endearing swine who always wins our affection at the end of the day.

As part of the”The Office” style mockumentary, even Kermit resorts to name calling his ex-beloved Miss Piggy — dubbing her “a lunatic” in the first minute of the show.

He may be slightly right, but our green amphibian always sticks up for the love of his life — even when they are apart.

It’s what makes the Muppets, “The Muppets.”

Yet, it just wasn’t the usual happy go-lucky, pull yourself up by your bootstrap gang in this pilot episode. In fact, the only characters who followed their plot lines were the witty, sarcastic critics of Waldorf and Statler. Yet, even their one liners fell flat and lacked bite. The writers couldn’t even eek out a decent heckle from the world’s best felt-faced hecklers.

Normally, Waldorf and Statler would jeer, “Leave the comedy to the bears!” except, Fozzie Bear was the most abysmal Muppet featured in the entire show.

Instead of his usual groan worthy puns, Fozzie Bear kept spewing out cringe-worthy barbs suited for the midnight crowd at the local comedy barn.

In fact, the entire episode may lead me to seek my first Botox treatment. I found myself furrowing my brow and cringing profusely at every crude Muppet moment.

Kermit the Frog said “hell” before the first commercial break, refering to the tough working enviroment with his ex-pig. A Muppet, no, no, “The” Muppet of all Muppets used a curse word. And not even in a clever way!

At first I wanted to blame this lackluster revival of our favorite puppets in prime-time on the lack of creativity in television writing. Yet, there are plenty of wonderful, clean, enjoyable television shows that work around the sarcastic, crass and crude bar of comedy.

During old episodes of the traditional “The Muppet Show,” it was the humans who were flawed and sometimes a drag to work with as Kermit, Gonzo and the gang worked tirelessly to pull a show together.

In the past, the Muppets used to reflect our society in a fun, unique way, but this show failed to reunite us with those lovable, soft, hope-filled character who set themselves apart from us humans.

This week’s revival should just pull itself from the TV Guide schedules and just stick to what works.

We want the Muppets who make us think about the Rainbow connection.

We want the Muppets who are movin’ right along in search of good times and good news — with good friends you can’t lose.

It may not be easy being green, but it sure beats being mean.

By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Don’t mess with her Muppets.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Don’t mess with her Muppets.

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