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Back To Square One?(The Muppets' 60th Anniversary)

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by beaker, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Today I thought of a concept that I've sort of thought up before: What if instead of one lasting series, Disney produced many Muppet series, with the intention of only having each around for one season or even half season (like the recent show Galavant)? Each show would have a somewhat different format and setting, and maybe some shows could be more like spin-offs starring a familiar character. In fact if it were more of a spin-off, fans might be more accepting to the newer characters (in a way Muppets Tonight could have been this... They could have called it something like "Clifford and Company", and audiences might have been more accepting of the limited exposure of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and other familiar characters, and more accepting to the dominance of new characters over old). Disney Drive-On with the Muppets kind of feels more like this concept, as that was intended for only six episodes and it seems more like a spin-off starring Walter and a few additional familiar characters, with Kermit only there in the first and last episodes. Of course, this idea could be comparable to Scooby Doo and Power Rangers as well.

    If there ever is a show that's not about the Muppets putting on a show, I wonder what they would do about where the characters live. A fairly existing setting, like the boarding house or the apartment building from Letters to Santa? Would they live in their own houses/apartments in different buildings? Or would they rarely go home, instead going to a popular hang-out place, like a cafe or coffee shop (or maybe a bar)?

    Another idea: The Muppets for whatever reason no longer work together on a regular basis but once a week they go to hang out somewhere (maybe a cafe, maybe a lodge) and talk about what they had done in the past week, with three big flashback stories (making this a "three shorts" show with a linking plot). Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Pepe would usually be among the three to provide the flashback segments, with others getting their turns on occasion (but would more often be part of one of the five characters week instead, or just there hanging out without talking about their past week). Kermit's flashbacks could often involve Robin, Piggy's could involve Link, Strangepork, or Andy and Randy, Gonzo's could involve Rizzo and/or Camilla, Scooter could be involved in anyone's story, and so on. And their new lives could involve new characters, maybe at first the new ones would only appear in the flashbacks but eventually they can populate the hang-out spot and go on to appear in other Muppet productions. Depending on the average length of the segments, maybe the wrap-around segments could have a minor plotline.
     
  2. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    OK, why are you not writing fan-fics? A lot of your ideas would make good fics.

    Here is two things I would like to bring up that are kind of puzzling me.

    First off in what part of the galaxy is Muppet Christmas Carol a cute kidish movie? I have heard that being said at least twice this week, and I just don't get it at all. To me Christmas Carol was way more dark and scarier then any other Muppet movie to date. So I really don't get where people are calling it cute, and kidish.

    Secondly, Two very funny characters came out of Muppets Tonight, Pepe, and Bobo. Even when starting out they both where very funny, and to this day feel like they have always been a part of the Muppet family. So the adding of characters in that regard was great, because it gave Bill a chance to create two wonderful personalities that where original and fresh to the mix.
    So I really don't think you can say that adding all the new characters is what killed Muppets Tonight.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  3. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Muppets Tonight had so many great characters (and a few bad characters, though some fans may think differently regarding whether certain characters were great or annoying), but part of the problem was that they had so many new characters at once and so much focus on them over the classics that we knew. In fact while a lot of us felt that way, I don't think I've heard of any instances where a casual fan or reviewers cited that as a negative point about the show (though according to Jim Henson: The Biography, critics disliked the new characters from The Jim Henson Hour). I can imagine casual fans tuning in hoping to see their favorite characters and possibly being surprised, at the very least by Kermit not hosting, wondering who Clifford was, and at the very least surprised that Miss Piggy and Fozzie weren't used that much (though of those two I initially only noticed Fozzie not getting much screen time).

    At the time Muppets Tonight premiered, I didn't have the internet, so there was a lot I didn't know (in addition to a lot that I did know). By that point I was really just starting to know that Frank Oz had a directing career but didn't realize that it interfered with him performing the Muppets. I knew Jim Henson had died and suspected that Richard Hunt had also, but didn't think they were avoiding recasting (the three biggest Muppet productions to have come out after that were productions where the Muppets played roles, which seems to make it natural that certain main characters wouldn't have sizable parts). Kirk Thatcher and Jim Lewis have both said that they thought of the show as a "next generation" series and that introducing many new characters was necessary. In The Muppet Mindset interview with Kirk Thatcher, he pointed out that new characters were introduced all the time on The Muppet Show (though it seems like new characters were scarcer in the last two seasons, where most new characters, even ones that weren't made from Whatnots, only appeared in one or two episodes). That got me thinking about Sesame Street: For awhile, I had noticed that there had only been a small number of new characters in the past several years, but then I started thinking that for about the first 31 seasons, there were new Muppets introduced all the time on that show, and then the creation of new recurring Muppets started to drop within a year of Sesame Workshop buying the Sesame Street Muppets. Makes me wonder if Henson was more interested in creating new characters than Sesame Workshop, or if the Workshop felt they had enough characters by then (there were a fair number of new characters within the first couple of years after the change in ownership - Lulu, Little Murray Sparkles, the Monster Clubhouse cast, Curly Bear, Cousin Monster - but with the possible exception of Curly Bear - I'm not sure how often Baby Bear's family has been used in the last few seasons - none of those characters lasted). Of course there's also the fact that shortly after that Sesame Workshop changed the format to include many recurring segments needed for every episode (or every other episode), many fairly long and only featuring a handful of familiar characters, and then shortening the number of episodes per season to 26, which might make it difficult to find time to introduce new characters.

    Back when the new Muppet show planned for Fox was announced, press releases said that it would have new characters. I was thinking that The Jim Henson Company "knew better" at that point about having more new characters than old characters, and at this point the company was starting to recast Scooter, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, Janice, and others, but I had worried that the mention of new characters meant that they'd be featured more than the old characters. But then recently the pilot script leaked online, and there's not really any new characters in that script. I don't really know what to make of the pilot script... There are good things about it, but also a lot that wasn't that great.

    There are so many theories about what caused Muppets Tonight to be canceled, some more likely than others, but Kirk Thatcher recently mentioned something that he thinks might have contributed to it: At the time, ABC got a manager who was mostly interested in shows that brought in males aged 18-35, a demographic that likely wasn't going to be too interested in Muppets unless they had kids.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  4. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    One thing I liked about MT was how it tried to be more adult, which is what I always like in the muppets, I loved the show, I get the hate, but it matters little to me I just like the show. I really do not know what would happen in a new muppet show, but one thing that would not work these days is the TMS format
     
    dwayne1115 likes this.
  5. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    I think the TMS format would be welcomed by audiences today. it's familiar.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I still think the most horrifying thing if Henson still owned the Muppets would be who the movie rights would have gone to.

    I needn't say the name. You know who it is.

    If anything, the Muppets need a new comic book. Disney has just licensed out its classic Disneyverse comics to IDW, something I'm totally ecstatic about. If they're open to licensing out comics that, frankly, Americans don't appreciate (raise your hands if you think anything Scrooge McDuck related is just Ducktales stuff), I think it's high time to do the same with characters who have done well in comics past. Problem is, would we get the same kind of creative force Roger Langridge was? He was the heart and soul of the Muppet comics, and I really wish he could submit a script to an actual Muppet Project outside of that. I'll admit, only three of the Fairy Tale series were really good, sandwiched in a confused, almost directionless start and a disappointing finish. Seems the comics brought much more to the nostalgic Muppet table than the movies did. Which is a shame, but in their defense, these were really good comics.
     
  7. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Yeah that is weird how Funko has literally tapped every franchise under the sun, including rather obscure ones...but there's no Fraggle Rock. Strangely, one of my least favorite stores(Spencers) carried a number of Fraggle Rock wearables even as of a few years ago. I did tend to prefer though, the Fraggle merchandise(pvcs, plushes, etc) made as part of the 2002-2005 Muppet merch renaissaince than the more boutiquey expensive stuff of the last few years. Of course best thing for Fraggle fans in recent time has been the amazing gorgeous comics. AND we finally got new Fraggle shorts...well, more like a Ben Folds Five music video, a couple of Hub promos, and an appearance at the Carnegie Hall Jim Henson Celebration(WHY JHC can make all those tacky adult puppet skits and not a single Fraggle Rock short is beyond me)

    I'm all for Doozers actually. Heck I'd buy the dvd. Not sure why it's not actually on tv...is it really worse than any of the other simplistic cg kids morning stuff on tv? Just lame Disney forever buried Bear in the Big Blue House. A franchise that was a billion times better than Hoobs, Animal Jam, Big Bag, or Pajanimals.

    It's true...now that Star Wars and Marvel are on super nova critical mass level again; in addition to the runaway insanity of Frozen on top of Pixar...I sadly see fewer and fewer opportunities they'll give to the Muffins.
     
  8. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    I for one in retrospect love Muppets Tonight. I'd buy a complete box set tomorrow. I don't see why Disney couldn't have let Lionsgate release
    the Muppet Television portion of the Jim Henson Hour 1989 season since Lionsgate already released everything else from the show. Really bummed that, MT, and Muppets @WDW never made it to the home market.

    And it's funny as many people on the Muppet online community/forums hated Roger's art when it was previewed. I thought it was fantastic, and I'm happy
    the comics lasted as long as they did...and in a way still continue through the Fraggle Rock comics and the recent Langridge Muppety Turkey Hollow graphic novel. Other than the Labyrinth and Dark Crystal Ameri-mangas, we didn't get any Muppet or JHC comics in the 2000's even during the height of the 2002-2005 Muppet/JHC avalanche of merchandise.
     
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    There's no Dinosaurs toys from Funko, either. Those would be great.


    Well, Henson doesn't own the rights to the whole Jim Henson Hour. Disney owns the distribution rights to the MuppeTelevision segments (and Miss Piggy's Hollywood and The Secrets of the Muppets).
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I don't know how rights acquisitions work. I could most definitely see Funko tapping into Fraggle Rock for these things. They're no more or less obscure than some of the movies and TV shows from the 80's they've done. And given the venues that usually sell them, they're ripe for that kind of market. I never see a single action figure collector's line sell, but Funko Pops always disappear before and after a major holiday.

    PBS lost an opportunity there. But nooooo they just can't get rid of their precious Superwhy that was only barely popular for a year anyway. They've been so good to Henson with Sid and DinoTrain, why the heck did they pas that up? It was made in Canada so it got a tax credit. It should have been cheap enough to get some actual TV pick up. After all, the only profitable forms of children's entertainment are somehow geared towards preschoolers or Tweens who are to young to remember the 1980's sitcoms their shows steal their plots from. There's more venue for preschool shows than ever, and networks that run preschool shows have their own preschool channels. You mean to tell me in the realm of Nick Jr., Nick Jr. the channel, Disney Junior and its channel, PBS, PBS Sprout, Qubo... all of that, they couldn't find a place for it on television and dumped it on Netflix? Say what you will about Disney's ownership of the Muppets. At least corporate synergy would have guaranteed a preschool Muppet project a nice long stay on both of it's channels.
     
    mr3urious likes this.
  11. SpookyMania

    SpookyMania Member

    Wait, there was supposed to be a show for Fox? That's news to me. I'm going to have to seek out that leaked script.
     
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It's pretty common knowledge around here.

    Then again, the thing was proposed back in 2002.

    And it's freaking awful. It's so the product of something made in 2002.
     
  13. SpookyMania

    SpookyMania Member

    Somehow I was not aware of this. I'm reading it right now. Yikes!
     
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Don't even bother looking (though it can be found somewhere on this message board, I forget where). Imagine all the pop culture based segments of VMX. Now imagine an entire show of that but worse! They opened the show with a parody of MTV's Jack@**. Did we really want to see the Muppets stoop to parodying that?
     
  15. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Looking at the script, I am mixed about whether I like or dislike it. It mentioned quite a few guest stars who I'm not interested in,and the sketches aren't that great (especially not the "plot"). But I'm sure many of us would have really liked it back then, as it heavily featured Scooter and had good parts for Rowlf and the Electric Mayhem. I'll agree with the comment about the pop culture stuff being worse than It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. I really like that movie and enjoy a lot of the pop culture stuff there (but at the same time, some of the pop culture stuff and celebrity appearances are among the worst parts). Of course, it seems like the majority of us really praised the movie back when it came out, not disliking or hating it until later (and I still like it).

    It was once again a variety show, but it also had its differences from TMS, JHH, and MT. It seems the show wasn't going to have one guest star for the show, as multiple guests appeared (Muppets Tonight regularly had cameos by celebrities, but usually still had one guest announced as the guest star). And the writers said on a blog that Fox did not want the show to have backstage wrap-around segments. And that's odd to think about, I would think that most networks would prefer more plot than unrelated sketches. Though it kind of did have a plot with Kermit planning a Shakespearian act, though it looks like those scenes all take place in front of the curtain.

    I wonder how America's Next Muppet would have done. Of course, that show was intended on lasting only six episodes, so it probably wouldn't have mattered once. I've read that at first the show was going to have the Muppets audition puppeteers, which would have been odd... Why would the general public care who puppeteers for the Muppets?Why should the Muppets be the ones judging them (the performers would be better)? And Disney most likely wouldn't consider a show like that today.
     
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I can praise them for trying to put in classic characters, and there were genuinely decent concepts in it. But I really think the over abundance of pop culture heavy skits would have been tiresome and it was a poor fit for the Muppets. Granted, this is looking back from a viewpoint where the horrid parody movie genre was still relevant and not absolutely terrible yet... it probably could have played alright then. But looking back when we have at least 2 DTV "parodies" of The Hunger Games with every single movie they can crush into them, this series would have aged poorly.

    There were some great Pop culture bits in MT, let's not forget. Seinfeld Babies, Co-Dependants Day, Kermit's Once in a Lifetime cover among others. Then there's the shallow parody with pigs stuff that failed on every level. I'd tend to think that Fox series would have been more like that.
     
  17. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    I think Fox wanted this to be their next In Living Color, but without backstage stuff, TMS would not have been as good as it is, so they really need a plot. The America's Next Muppet is a horrible concept, even I probably would not care for it. I think it would have started off with okay ratings, then decline rapidly, it does not seem like the show would be good.
     
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I don't think that was the case. They already had their next In Living Color through MadTV. Clearly they were trying to go with the "edgy" direction, and back then it meant making as many pop culture references as possible in a short time frame. Like I said, this was back when people actually tolerated Scary Movie type films and they made money. While I think it worked as a one time thing with VMX, remember the telefilm that came after it that tried to do the same thing and failed. That kind of humor had a short shelf life. Not a good fit for a continuous project.

    And that was an era when Fox had a revolving door as far as television programs went. if it wasn't 24, The Simpsons (remember, this was when they cancelled Family Guy the second time), or American Idol, it just didn't fit on the schedule. I don't know if Greg the Bunny or Muppets were pitched first, but GTB didn't last all that long, I doubt even the bigger name of the Muppets would have been a draw.

    And America's Next Top Muppet was a terrible idea that was pitched at the tail end of tolerance of reality shows.
     
  19. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I remember when the show was announced, I saw some comments on the forum about it being a good thing the show would air on Fox because Fox tended to give shows a second chance if the ratings weren't good.

    Greg the Bunny was a good show that never should have been canceled (and it's a shame that they unexpectedly aired Bernie Mac in the shows timeline). At the time, it seems like there were a lot of adult puppet shows, with Greg the Bunny, Crank Yankers, TV Funhouse, and I think a few others (Wonder Showzen came a few years later). Kind of like how a few years before that, there were suddenly a lot of animated shows for adults (besides The Simpsons and King of the Hill, there was South Park, Family Guy, Futurama, The PJs, Home Movies, Dilbert, Clerks, and I think a few more).
     
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Wonder Showzen was a much better show. While I liked Greg, a lot of the jokes were the same adult pot shot types you see in this kind of thing. Of course, it didn't completely get cancelled since it managed to move to a cable channel, but with a huge format change of movie parodies or something. But something like Wonder Showzen needed cable, even though it was a short run.

    But my point is, Fox Presents Muppet Pop Culture Joke extravaganza would have been yet another in a long line of niche shows Fox failed with in the early to mid-00's. We'd've seen Muppets doing weak parodies and then just for a short time before the show got axed. To give you a refresher of how many failed shows there were, lemme see if I can get that Family Guy quote...

    The Muppets would have totally been on that list. And it would have been really divisive to the fanbase.
     

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