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Your Thoughts: Kermit and Miss Piggy on America's Got Talent

Discussion in 'Muppet Appearances' started by Phillip, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker Well-Known Member

    To me, it says a lot that even someone who liked Artie's Kermit is willing to admit the above.

    When was the last time the Muppets looked so amateurish on national TV? Personally, I think Kermit is too important to get way with casting an imperfect beginner!
  2. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I've said that about Steve's early performances and I've said it about Jim's. That doesn't mean I think they're bad, quite the contrary. It's not black and white like that.

    I said this earlier in another thread but the Muppets were pretty "rough" in their early days on TV too. Yet they were extremely popular very quickly. The excellence of their performance shown through despite technical difficulties. Plus audiences back then were more used to "rough" performances on TV, and just knew to respect the good parts of what they saw.

    The Muppets aren't about looking perfect, they never have been. They came from the Hippie era of looking nature and not having to be "high quality perfect." The puppetry on The Muppet Show now occasionally looks "rough" by today's standards. But people still like it, because it doesn't matter. What matters is the overall performance.
  3. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker Well-Known Member

    To which I replied, they've come a long way since then. Those classic performances have their place, but are you seriously arguing that modern-day Muppet performers shouldn't be world-class (or even proficient) puppeteers?

    The Muppet characters have a ragtag, motley, low-rent quality to them. But that's not an argument for sloppy puppeteering.

    That's like saying 30 Rock is about a dysfunctional TV show, so it should be filmed by an amateur camera crew.
  4. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Obviously I'm not arguing that, heh. I'm saying there's more to being a good performer than just being perfect all the time. Should they go back and redo Rocky and Bullwinkle so the animation looks better? No, because it didn't need to be the best drawings to be the best show overall.

    I'm saying this sudden demand for clean, pristine, high quality sort of reminds me of what they've done to Sesame Street. Taken it out of the urban city and into the bright happy playground because it looks nice.
  5. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    No, but having everything top-notch sure as heck helps. Take, for instance, The Dark Knight. Wildly acclaimed, adored across varying groups, and why? Because it was a good film. But why was it good? It was good because everything came together to make it a good film. The acting was good, the sets were good, the effects were good, the action was good, the romance was good, the humor was good, the hero was good, the villain was good (that is... good at being bad), the lighting was good, the cinematography was good, the writing was good, and, I'm not sure, but I bet the food on set was good too.

    So, yes, pointing out the good parts of something is a great thing to do. But it just reminds me of when you're peer reviewing a classmate's English paper. You make sure to highlight the good parts of the paper, but if you don't also acknowledge that the bads need to be fixed, then what's the point of even doing a peer review? :smirk:
  6. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well that's a matter of opinion. Though I agree, the Joker was very good. ;)

    And there have been a number of movies with excellent production quality that completely bombed, because overall the story wasn't good. It's not all about having the best of everything production wise.

    And I'm not saying "yes, let's make everything bad!" I don't know where that came from. I'm saying there's a lot of talk about "high quality" and perfection, which just reminds me of Stepford rather than Muppets. Would you call Hippies clean and pristine and without blemishes imperfections? No, because they're not supposed to be. And neither are the Muppets.

    Well 1960s/70s audiences weren't doing peer reviews. They were enjoying what was an excellent product, without having to rely on modern "high quality" that we're all so convinced we need nowadays to tell a story. ;)
  7. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Agreed there. BUT, even if it wasn't "high quality," if things were so bad that they became distracting, it is no longer an excellent product.
  8. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Just seems like playing devil's advocate for the heck of it. I don't get what you're arguing here.

    I think what Ryan was trying to say is - projects usually work best when seasoned professionals fill the key production roles. That would include Steve performing the main Muppet character. Yes, there are exceptions for new, innovative indie projects, but that's not what Disney is going for with the Muppets. If they want the best polished Muppet projects they need Steve’s Kermit at the helm. A recast at this point is just not appropriate to most fans.
  9. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jamie. You've articulated my point much better than I did. (And with a lot less confusing metaphors. :p)
  10. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well then how do we explain how the Muppets became so successful? They didn't start out as seasoned professionals. That's all I'm saying.

    Disney should be concerned with producing good stories and good presentations of the characters, not how polished it all looks. Disney has been criticized for that for years. For being too concerned with seeming perfect (and mercilessly throwing out anything and anyone that doesn't quite measure up to its standards).
  11. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    ...Yes, but that's the point. They ARE seasoned professionals NOW. Why on EARTH would we want to go back to being amateur beginners again? Do you want to start all over? It took Jim Henson about 20 years to make his characters really popular. Should we start all over again, with beginners, and wait another twenty for them to become popular?

    But if a story is good and the characters are not, what's the point? Characters DRIVE the story. Characters, in essence, ARE the story. If they're not all there, as Fake Kermit is so obviously not all there, how can a story be good?
  12. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    But answer the question, how in the world did they get popular when they weren't seasoned professionals? Yes the Muppets hit their big stride in the '70s with The Muppet Show. But the Muppets were popular for Washington DC locals on Sam and Friends and frequently reinvited on The Ed Sullivan Show in the '60s. They wouldn't have had the opportunity to grow into seasoned professionals if they hadn't been so well received in the years where they were starting out.

    I said good presentation of the characters is important as well. I never said the characters weren't important.

    And it's your opinion that this Kermit doesn't work. It's all about opinion.
  13. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    I'm not saying that I'm not all for beginners growing into seasoned professionals over time--because I completely am. But I am in no way in favor of seasoned professionals being replaced by said beginners. Especially when they are so obviously unable to maintain the quality and the humor of the characters they've been cast as. The Muppets got popular because the puppeteers performing them then had quality and humor, but this new performer, in these appearances, absolutely does not.

    I never said it wasn't. I'm just stating said opinion.
  14. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    What's being lost is that what we may now cringe at today is some of those earlier performances from the 60s/70s were high quality at that time.

    Jim, Frank and their team (including Steve) took uncharted territory in the field of television puppetry and raised the bar. They were the innovators.

    People talk about how Jim was a genius because he saw the television screen as the puppet stage as opposed to a pre-existing stage on a tv screen. What makes this genius was not just the mere removal of a stage and using the bottom of the television picture as the thing the puppeteers hide under but the realization and constant tailoring of all the things that come with it - making puppets that could work in such a new medium - expressive flexible faces, seams that weren't so obvious in extreme closeup - the idea of a puppeteer working with a television monitor and being able to adjust their performance in real time was something no one had done before (or had to do). By the same token, the original Muppeteers had to learn how to deal with the new problems their solutions caused - yes, you could see via a monitor how high or low your puppet was on a screen, but you also had to go through years of getting used to fighting one's natural reflexes and learning that everything on the screen in front of you was reversed to your point of view (moving/looking left vs right)

    They were learning as they went because they were crafting the original maps. They had to bump into the tree in order to warn followers "oh by the way, there's a tree here - duck down".

    The performances then were outstanding because they were the best at what they did at that time. Not only did these already talented people continue to improve and up their game, but newer younger up and coming puppeteers also learned from their mistakes and acheivements. New Muppeteers have marvelous training available to them - they learn stuff in months, WEEKS even, what it may have initially taken Jim Frank and Jerry years to nail down. Plus with various education opportunities (school courses, puppetry troupe workshop) and easy access to video equiptment like camcorders and the like, one can train themselves how to work with a monitor a long time before they ever think of doing professional work.

    The Muppeteers were at the top of their craft in the 70s. They're at the top of their craft now. But top of the craft in the 21st century blows away top-of-the-craft 70s era. One should expect better today because the bar has been raised.

    Does that mean absolute perfection is expected of newer Muppeteers? No, there's a learning curve that comes with experience. That's why the pros get the big parts and the newer members do right hands, background characters, and work up to small parts and as their experience/talent grows, so (hopefully) does their work and responsibilites.

    Artie is a marvelous Muppeteer. But he's not ready for the type of performance a Big Gun requires. Not yet. Someday maybe (forget "maybe" - i have no doubt he'll be there over time) but at this time he's "not ready for prime time". He's not right for Kermit at the presen. Is he the best choice out there? (Yeah, the "correct" answer is "No - Steve is" but if for whatever reason Steve can't do it of course) I certainly hope not! Maybe Disney tried and tried like no one in the history of mankind has tried something before and they really found Artie to be the best alternative. But considering the number of people who have worked with the Muppets (or even puppeteers who haven't), surely there would be a larger number of people who have the more finely honed skills such a role requires.
  15. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Well I mean that's where the debate ends really, you see the performance one way and others see it another. End of story. :)

    And I admire the efforts of the people behind the Muppets to continue the work all these years. But the fact remains the Muppets have steadily gone down in popularity since Jim died, not up. There are some fans of their later movies, but overall they did not usher in a comeback. So again, replacing one recast with another is not the biggest concern to me.
  16. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Of course story is important and that's largely forgotten these days. That's likely why Disney's going with a classic Jim & Jerry concept for the next film so that base is already covered.

    However, the Muppets are best when they improv and the new Kermit fell flat at that when given a golden chance with Lady Gaga. That's the sort of polish I'm talking about, not some glossy, overly focus-grouped project.

    The fact is, by the time the Muppets hit the big time with Sesame and the Muppet Show the puppeteers were professionals.
    It took most of the Muppeteers a while paying dues as puppet wranglers, right hands and extras before landing a substantial role.
  17. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Well I mean that's where the debate ends really, you see the newer performances one way, you view the performer's talent one way, you view Kermit one way, and others see it another. End of story.
  18. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Um wow. Well sorry it doesn't please you. Later.
  19. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    ...heralde... Do you not grasp the concept of progression?

    This is not the '50s, or even the '70s. The Muppets are not amateurs.

    This is 2009, and the Muppets are well-polished, seasoned professionals.

    This is not about what WAS, back then. It's about what IS, right NOW. And NOW, the Muppets represent HIGH-QUALITY performances, and should GIVE high-quality performances.

    Arguing that anything less than that is acceptible is just living in the past.

    And you can't just run away from the exact argument you just made. That just doesn't work.
  20. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I was "running away" from what I thought was uneccesarily rude. If someone wants to make a point, I'll accept it. But not in that way.

    I'm signing off now because I want to. Bye.

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