Five Things I Want to See on the New Muppets Show
If you're a Muppet fan - and I know a lot of you regular readers are - you've undoubtedly heard about the Muppets' upcoming return to TV. Or planned return to TV anyway.
What we know right now is not exactly definitive. There's a pilot. Randall Einhorn, whose directing credits include episodes of Modern Family, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the Fargo TV series, is producing and directing it. Former Simpsons story editor Bob Kushell will be serving as show runner and has penned the pilot script with Bill Prady, one of the co-creators of The Big Bang Theory who previously worked on various Muppet projects including the short-lived Jim Henson Hour and the Disney theme park attraction MuppetVision 3D.
What little we know of the plot suggests something in the vein of the original Muppet Show with a dash of modern mockumentary: a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the Muppets as they struggle to get a new TV series up and running. It's been described as "more adult," which I won't get into because Tough Pigs already covered what that probably does and probably doesn't mean. And we have what is apparently the title card. I am hoping that there's something missing here and the show is not just called The Muppets, as that's asking for confusion.
There's a lot we don't know yet and a pilot is not a guaranteed series, let alone the multiple seasons of new Muppet content we fans are hoping for. But lack of information has never stopped the Internet from speculating, jumping to conclusions, and discussing what they want to see from an upcoming project. Since that last one seems like the better use of my time, here's my wish list for a new Muppet TV show.
While I'm sure Sam will be lobbying hard for depictions of the glorious history of America, what I'm looking for is Muppet history. One of the unique traits of the Muppets is that they live in the real world. They interact with real people and are capable of remembering those interactions. These are characters with over fifty years of history. So why not honor that history in the new show? Not every episode needs to touch on the Muppets' decades of past experiences or be so packed with obscure Muppet trivia that new viewers are completely lost. But the occasional nod to something that happened in the original Muppet Show or The Muppet Movie, or a clip from past decades that happens to be in Disney's extensive media library would be a great wink and nod to older fans.
2. Obscure Muppets
My favorite part of Muppets Most Wanted was when Constantine offered Piggy - among numerous other gifts - a "thingy-thing," which turned out to be the Muppet that sings "You Are My Sunshine" in this classic Muppet Show sketch. This is another relatively easy way to acknowledge the hardcore Muppet fandom without leaving newer and younger fans totally confused. Obscure characters and other little known bits of trivia are often how fans of anything identify one another. It's not about separating the "true" fans from the "posers," but a way of gauging just how far down the rabbit hole both of you have gone.
3. More Lady Muppets
Like many other groups of fictional characters who have been around for a long time, the Muppets have been criticized for lacking ladies. If course there's Miss Piggy and if she happens to be within earshot, she's all you need. But while there are other female Muppets, they don't tend to get the kind of screen time or character development that the predominantly male A-listers do. Of course, new female characters who aren't fully developed or don't have a role to fill in the show beyond "token lady" aren't going to fix anything. And it is tough to introduce new characters into a long-established group. But I'm confident that the Muppets are up to the task. The idea of a show that looks at the Muppets' personal lives as well as their professional ones opens the door for new characters being introduced in a natural way. Among the few details that have been released about the show is the news that Fozzie has a girlfriend and will be interacting with her parents.
There's nothing in the scant information we have about the new Muppet series that says the "show within a show" the characters are trying to make will be yet another variety show. But it's almost impossible to imagine a Muppet project that doesn't include some kind of music. Music and the Muppets have gone hand in hand since the beginning. So whether it's something that happens in every episode or more of an occasional highlight, songs are a must.
5. Humor and Heart
The overall tone of the Muppets can be a hard thing to nail down. With multiple movies, televisions shows, and other projects to their name, the Muppets have certainly evolved over the years. But still there remains a single Muppet sensibility that's tough to define. The humor is broad ranging: from the zany to the sophisticated to the most cringe-inducing puns you ever heard. But somewhere between the explosions and the banana creme pies and the exploding banana creme pies, there are moments of real emotional sincerity. At the end of the day, the Muppets are a family. Like many families, they may not all get along all of the time and some of them can barely stand each other. But when push comes to shove, they're there for one another.
Got your own wish list for the new Muppet TV show? Share it with us in the comments!