Kermit, Miss Piggy create a scene on ‘The Muppets’ set

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 times the Muppets met Massachusetts.

In an early episode of ABC’s “The Muppets,” the beloved puppets’ first primetime series in two decades, premiering tonight, Miss Piggy makes out with Josh Groban.

In all of the hoopla over ABC’s new “grown-up” take on The Muppets, far too much attention has been paid to the now-knotty personal lives of America’s favorite felt creations.While promoting their new show, The Muppets, debuting on ABC Tuesday night 8pm est, everyone’s favorite Muppets caught up with Jimmy Kimmel — and let’s just say that it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting back together anytime soon.When ABC announced that its reboot of “The Muppets” (premiering Tuesday night) would take the format of a “mockumentary,” many compared the style to that of “The Office.” When applied to the American version of the latter, the comparison goes beyond confessionals that break the fourth wall; it extends to both shows’ characters, who have more in common than you might think.As the star of Up Late with Miss Piggy, Miss Piggy thinks she deserves the same treatment as her fellow late-night hosts — which is why she was not too happy about being excluded from a recent Vanity Fair feature that pictured the “titans of late night.” That executive producer, of course, is Miss Piggy’s former flame Kermit the Frog, from whom she split earlier this summer. The Muppets first entered primetime television in 1976, and haven’t left the public eye since, starring in eight wide-release movies and providing good, clean fun for more than four decades.

While Scooter’s background nerdiness may remind some viewers of human-resources rep Toby Flenderson, and Rowlf’s sage words and piano-playing prowess echo those of warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin, these five comparisons may be the most sensational, inspirational, “celebrational and Muppet-ational.” On “The Muppets”: When things go awry, as they often do, Kermit’s “Sheesh!” is the defeated voice of reason. The humor alluding to Muppet mating—interspecies and otherwise—has led to some awkward feelings for fans, while some critics have been skeptical about throwing these nostalgia symbols into adult situations. She told Kimmel that the reason for the split was “the usual laundry list: put the lid down, closing the refrigerator door… not doing the dishes while taking a bath in the sink.”

For his part, Kermit accepts the blame for the Vanity Fair incident: “As the executive producer, it is my responsibility to get the show out into the markets it needs to go into.’ Kermit was joined by Pepe the King Prawn for a sitdown with Mashable before the reality show’s debut on ABC. The new series will be no different, as Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks, Haverhill’s Tom Bergeron, and Cambridge’s Jere Burns will all appear in the first couple of episodes. The Academy Award winning actress was born in Boston and went on to star in a number of Mel Brooks films, including Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety. Every character is slotted into an assigned role: Kermit is once again a harried producer, Fozzie the cheesy warm-up comic, Miss Piggy the top-billed diva, and other favorites like Gonzo, Rizzo, and Pepe the Prawn litter the writers’ room.

While the Swedish Chef spends all episode trying to catch and prepare a turkey, Guthrie closes the show with a rendition of Pete Seeger’s “Sailing Down This Golden River.” Baez, who got her start performing in clubs and cafes in Cambridge, hosted The Muppet Show in 1980, doing a Marlon Brando impersonation and closing with a rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” Here, she sings a cover of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The Muppets were back in action in the ‘90s with Muppets Tonight, which ran for two seasons. WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: The mockumentary style updates the Muppets while honoring the spirit of the original series, a variety show with backstage high jinks.

Jason Alexander, who got his start at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts, appeared on the first season of the show, but has a falling out with his old college pal Gonzo (that college not being B.U., but South Bay Regional Polytechnic Institute for the Performing and Industrial Arts Night School Downtown Campus). Whitmire, who has been the performer behind Kermit since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, said, “I think the first time I did it, she popped into my head because something like ‘Legally Blonde’ had come out on DVD and I was aware of it. It’s not difficult to guess why The Muppets has gone for the mockumentary formula that helped make shows like The Office and Modern Family easily digestible hits.

Then it expanded, because people would ask, ‘Why her?’ And I [as Kermit] would say, ‘Well, I’m attracted to small, blonde mammals.’” The real reason had more to do with the pressure of answering questions on the fly, in character, while promoting the Muppets’ many projects over the years. “I do think she’s amazing, but it became an easy name to remember, a pat answer,” the puppeteer said. It’s a simple way to make a single-camera sitcom that still features easy punchlines delivered straight to camera, and The Muppets takes full advantage.

The gang are also always at their best when they’re putting on a show—the Muppets film franchise fizzled out with convoluted stories like Muppets From Space before getting back on track with Jason Segel’s 2011 reboot film, where the gang reunites to save their famous variety show. Overbearingly “adult” romantic innuendos and one-liners — Miss Piggy jokes about getting her bosom and hind quarters “hiked” — may test even the most devoted Muppet fan. But rather than the singing, dancing, and comedy sketches we’d expect, the Muppets’ work life has become as drab as if they worked in The Office’s Dunder Mifflin.

On “The Office”: Dunder Mifflin’s resident weird person (well, one of them, anyway), Dwight often perplexes his colleagues, who enjoy laughing at him as the routine target of pranks. Thus even a brand-new character like Denise feels like a copy of a copy (and it doesn’t help that she’s designed to look more human and less cartoonish than the other puppets, giving her scenes a strange uncanny-valley quality). As long as you accept that The Muppets will never quite reach the heights of its forebears, there’s still plenty of room for the show to grow from its trudging pilot. Though The Muppets’s mockumentary premise is worn-out, it offers a skeleton strong enough to support more drama, and every week can at least hinge some humor on whoever the celebrity guest star is (the long list includes Josh Groban, Jay Leno, and Elizabeth Banks).

And even if you prefer the good old days, there’s nothing you’re missing from skipping this latest entry, the most monotonous Muppet caper of all.

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