Sunday, August 21, 2016

More FakeOlympicEvents

From the 2016 Summer Olympics

  1. Flaming Bow Archery (tie in - lighting the Olympic flame with a lighted bow & arrow)
  2. Competitive eating
  3. Foosball
  4. Water Rugby
  5. Fucking (They do it in the Olympic village anyway)
  6. some sort of parade-based event for the Opening Ceremony & ceremonious 1st medal
  7. Olympic Torch races (Opening Ceremony) - first one to ignite the flame/stadium wins Gold
  8. Skydiving
  9. Stair climbing
  10. mountain climbing
  11. indoor mountain climbing
  12. battle of the network stars
  13. Figure 8 Track
  14. Frisbee Toss
  15. Ultimate Frisbee
  16. WWE
  17. Pool Vault
  18. Bowling
  19. Candlepin Bowling
  20. Raquetball
  21. Squash
  22. Paddle boat racing
  23. oil wrestling
  24. duck hunting
  25. Olympic binge watching
  26. Equestrian Pole Vault
  27. Roundball Rock (the old NBA on NBC theme, since NBC used it this year)
  28. Swimming Hurdles
  29. Algae Swimming
  30. Window Climbing
  31. Jungle Gym
  32. Gymnastics - Perpendicular Bars
  33. Simon Says
  34. Slip-n-Slide
  35. full contact kayak
  36. shot put softball
  37. laser tag
  38. backwards running
  39. sledding (kids on a snow day)
  40. corn maze
  41. limbo
  42. running with scissors
  43. unsynchronized swimming (actually came from @Olympics
  44. nude barbed wire vaulting (a Johnny Carson joke)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What's Next For The Muppets

So The Muppets was cancelled by ABC today (basically not picked up for next season). Unless another network or streaming service (I heard Netflix might be interested) comes through, they're one-and-done. The question rolling around in my head for the past few hours, and then posed on twitter, was what's next for them?

I don't think it's as easy to answer that question as it was the last two times they had TV shows cancelled. The end of the original Muppet Show run coincided with more Muppet movies (followed by some quiet time while Jim Henson and team worked on other projects). When Muppets Tonight was cancelled 20 years ago, they did return for another film, keeping on some of the new characters. Then they had another fairly quiet period as ownership of the franchise changed hands a few times.

This time, it's different. This TV show came on the success of 2 movies and a good number of viral videos. The TV show came out of nowhere just over a year ago at a time when we were thinking what could be next (about a year after their last movie came out). It seemed like a perfect opportunity to get back on TV. But the TV show made mistakes and wasn't given enough time to have it all fixed.

So is the brand now damaged? If they do come back into TV or film or videos or whatever, is everything from the TV show just gone, like it was a dream? Or is that the new Muppets reality and they have to work from that starting point? On social media, they were working in the reality of the TV series and the show-within-the-show (Up Late With Miss Piggy) and the alternate character arcs created for the series (Kermit and Piggy broken up, a really annoying Scooter character, Gonzo and Camilla broken up and now back together, Piggy being the villain for a period of time, Uncle Deadly's new role, and just other Muppet characters basically working in the office).

These were things I never liked about that TV show, and though some weren't as bad as others, I thought they led to the downfall of a show with established characters basically playing in the paradigm of a stale format (mockumentary) putting them in a new place (they're known for a show, so they made another one).

Anyway, what's next? The show could get picked up by Netflix, we could binge watch it (it could be a year from now to get that deal done, produce the episodes, and let it simmer and promote over there). ABC Family picked up Muppets Tonight from ABC. ABC Family is now Freeform (still owned by ABC), and maybe The Muppets moves there. ABC owns the franchise, so the other TV networks are out. I don't see them landing at ESPN SportsCenter. I'm not sure there's another film idea out there (though if you follow the arc, a musical like Muppets Take Manhattan should be the next in line). I think they can remake a film like they did with The Wizard of Oz. But I don't think these things were on the horizon before the TV show happened, and I don't think they're out there now. An actual musical. Interesting, but very tough to produce, given how these characters operate. Sporadic TV specials like Muppet Show Live? I'm just throwing out ideas of things I'd watch.

And are the events of this TV show (and social media presence) forgotten in whatever's next for them, or is this now where they are in life? While the TV show was airing, there were a few viral videos released. Those were better than anything they did on TV in the past year. They also didn't live in the reality of the TV show (for instance, they were fun and we saw characters and relationships missing from TV). But they might have been done before the TV show.

I'd like to see this whole TV show treated like a bad dream. I even suggested it as a way to help fix the show. I certainly would like to see that now that they're gone. Since they've had the sting of being cancelled, I think the franchise as a whole needs to work their way back up. Go back to the internet and make more music videos and short Muppet-show-like sketches. And maybe make that into a 13 week TV show in a couple years. Stay away from new films for the time being and keep a low profile.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's Time to Fix The Muppets

I posted this in response to Alan Sepinwall's review of the revamped "The Muppets." TV series.

I think they need to scrap what they have and go back to what works. Their brand has some cachet with the network and viewers, which is why they got on the schedule so fast after the pitch reel and why they haven't been cancelled. But this format isn't working. It's like taking the cast/characters from Friends and sticking them in other roles on another show. It looks odd and out of place. Not saying the Muppets characters are typecast in their roles, but they don't work playing something else. They've proven that on a weekly basis since September.

The ideal show would have been the old Muppet Show, but with this new twist of being more adult and showing more behind the scenes.

They might still be able to get there, but time is running out (and how many more times will The Muppets get a new TV show). I say, scrap the current format, and transition to a new show by pulling the same trick that Bob Newhart's second show did in its final scene - hit Kermit in the head with a golf ball (or in true Muppet style, Lew Zeland's boomerang fish or Gonzo juggling bowling pins or something like that) so he gets knocked out, and he wakes up in his backstage spot in the old Muppet Show theater with Miss Piggy and nephew Robin the Frog by his side telling about this awful dream while Scooter is coming out and saying "15 seconds to curtain, Kermit". The camera pans out to show Walter, Gonzo & Camilla, Fozzie, Rowlf, Piggy & Robin, Pepe & Rizzo and the old gang standing over looking concerned.

It's time to fix the Muppets.
It's time to get things right.
It's time to bring them back to the Muppet Show tonight!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fixing The Muppets

I've been thinking about what's been wrong or missing with ABC's "The Muppets.".

Miss Piggy - I know her persona has taken on a life of its own over the past 40 years, but I really don't remember a setting in which Miss Piggy lived on another stratosphere from the other characters, like what's been built up for here in this series. Knowing the characters, it almost makes it unbelievable. In the first episode, Fozzie calls her, and she asks "Is this the guy in the hat?". And it was a big part of the episode where she got invited to join the gang after work.

Kermit and Piggy - I don't think it was necessary to break them up. There was enough tension between them for all these years to continue through this series. There was a lot of internet buzz, but it didn't seem to help the series, and I wonder if it actually hurt the series. It makes another element that's just not believable. And how many episodes was it even a factor? Two? And so much was made of Kermit's new girlfriend and she only appeared in episode 1. This whole plot line could have been lost without damaging the franchise. While I'm here, what happened to Gonzo and Camilla?

Celebrities - It's overdone. At least that's my opinion. If you rely on celebrity guests, unless you are an actual talk show, it just shows that what you have isn't strong enough on its own to sustain what it needs to be. I get that on a talk show-within-a-show, it's bound to happen, but they really need to lose the ones that don't stem from that setting (Laurence Fishburne; Ed Helms; who else?).

The show within the show - Taking these characters, who we've basically known to be performers (when they're not telling another story in movies such as "Muppet Treasure Island") and now performing every day jobs around the office. It also seems unnatural. There's been a place for almost everyone (where's Walter?), some very natural and some not. But I think this could have been handled a different way.

Look at the 2 recent movies. They put on a Muppet Show telethon and then a world tour of the Muppet Show. Fans probably wanted this to be just a new season of the old "Muppet Show". THAT should have been the show within the show. Take the old show, but instead of showing backstage hi-jinks with "real" performances, turn it into behind the scenes of the old show. Kermit as Executive Producer and host and everyone contributing as a writer and performer, and maybe a celebrity guest host. Then you can explore their lives outside of that show.

Having gone with this wouldn't be as much of a shock to the system, and I think would have helped this show in critical reviews and ratings.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The New Muppets

ABC's The Muppets. debuted this week. I am sharing some thoughts from my second (and online/onDemand) watching of the show.

A few notes. I've tried to avoid reviews and most previews of the show until I could write down my own thoughts. The Muppets. is done in the format of shows such as The Office, which is a mockumentary. I have never watched The Office nor have I watched most shows of that style. So I am not familiar with the style that the Muppets are taking on here. I am not fond of single camera comedies (basically, no studio audience) in general, though there are some that I like. I think comedies should be performed in front of a live studio audience. I know that any real TV show involving the Muppets cannot be done that way because of the limitations with what the puppets can actually do and the involvement of the performers (though they have done occasional live shows). The original Muppet Show had a laugh track and a staged studio audience (involving more Muppets).

I am going to try to use time codes within the playing of the show. These time codes are based on the viewing of the show on the Watch ABC app.

00:20 Nice to include the old Muppet Show theme in the new show's intro.
01:10 Some jokes recycled from the 10 minute pitch. That just seems weird.
01:45 The Zoot AA joke was good. I've heard it's that type of humor.
02:45 Not a fan of the Muppets being in on the behind the scenes documentary. Or Gonzo's joke about it.
04:00 Miss Piggy is a bitch. I think this is an over-the-top version of herself for the show. It might be too much.
n/a In some ways, this feels like a modern-day version of the old Muppet Show.
05:13 that cue card joke is funny, but makes Fozzie look stupid for not knowing what he's supposed to say every night on Up Late With Miss Piggy.
05:55 the "bacon-wrapped hell on Earth" joke was kind of funny and kind of weird to hear from Kermit The Frog in the 10 minute pitch pilot, but played out better here with Sam Eagle saying "you can't say hell".
06:35 The Tom Bergeron line with Kermit yelling to Scooter is funny.
06:52 Fozzie driving a car!!!
07:10 Fozzie at dinner with his girlfriend's parents is kind of awkward for this being a pilot episode. I just think they should be introducing the characters a little more. It seems like this is just a joke setup.
08:10 I'm mixed on "Dancing with the Czars". But it's classic Gonzo.
08:45 I don't like the Denise character. Very bad first introduction.
08:47 Kermit said "God" (in "God knows"). Weird.
09:25 a full-sized Fozzie puppet is still weird to see. Acceptable, but weird.
10:07 Miss Piggy working out. She doesn't seem like the person to do that.
10:22 "Is this the guy in the hat" doesn't land for me unless you saw the 10 minute pilot.
11:38 I really don't like Denise. Sexy southern accent. I never believed Kermit and Piggy as a real couple, so their breakup crossed into new territory for me. And so does Denise being "with" Kermit.
11:55 More Rizzo! He's under-used.
12:15 Kermit making an executive decision seems a bit assertive for his character. I don't think he ever put his foot down like that on the original show. It was usually more chaos, which was always better comedy.
13:06 Scooter's joke about the "subtle look" was awful.
13:40 Great camera work on the golf cart scene. Also with Scooter being thrown from it.
14:54 Animal's subtle joke about being a woman's man seems out of place but funny.
15:03 Nothing against Imagine Dragons, or Elizabeth Banks for that matter, but I'm not a fan of random celebrity guest stars on TV shows. Yes, the original Muppet Show and even Muppets Tonight in the same format had a guest host, but that's different. I mean stars showing up on the show because they're stars. I've heard this new show will have that every week. The basic premise that Miss Piggy hosts a talk show is just a convenience mechanism for the guest stars. In a lot of cases, I don't see what it adds to the show and to the comedy. Even worse would be most of these celebrity hits and talk show appearances being sneaky promos for other ABC shows. In this one, Elizabeth Banks at least adds a little bit to the story line, but I don't see what Imagine Dragons brings to the show.
15:12 Finally some real chaos. There's comedy in that, right?
15:38 Fozzie seems a bit desperate to impress his girlfriend's parents. His desperation should only be in his comedy.
16:19 Uncle Deadly cameo appearance brushing down Kermit ("skin! skin!") might have been the first time I laughed out loud in my second viewing of the show. But I also don't remember that joke the first time.
16:40 This Kermit-Piggy fight seems so wrong. So does their breakup. There was already great tension in their 40 year relationship.
17:15 I still don't understand why it's Kermit's fault that he didn't know about the tension between Miss Piggy and Elizabeth Banks from the breakup scene.
18:43 The camera work in this scene with Kermit and Piggy in her dressing room makes me a bit queasy.
19:30 The joke about Kermit's stomach seems unnatural for The Muppets.
19:54 Miss Piggy as a talk show host (on the air) makes me think of the late Joan Rivers. I hope that's intentional, especially given their "history".
20:00 Having Imagine Dragons playing somewhat justifies having them on the show, and it shows off some puppetry and camera work, but it takes time away from the clever writing I was promised.
21:00 Okay, Animal going missing in the drum is sort of that joke.

I hope the writing improves once they finish establishing all of the characters in these new roles. I expect more of the "pilot" stuff in episode 2. Like where was Rowlf? Given how the Muppets as a general concept grew in the 1960s doing commercials, I would love to see them doing real or mock commercials during some of the advertising time. The video runs a total of 21 minutes, 21 seconds, in a 30 minute timeslot. I'm sure it's normal, but it seems a bit short to me.

For good measure, here are some of my original thoughts from watching (ultimately on DVR) Tuesday night after the I saw premiere for the first time. These came from my twitter feed.

...there were jokes that I laughed out loud at. some thinking humor (some of which I read about and already got). it was a different show...
...I'm just not used to watching those single-camera fast-paced shows like The Office, which #TheMuppets is. so maybe that's on me.
other thoughts on #TheMuppets - I think I noticed more tonight how much of a real couple they were with their scripted breakup than ever b4.
...meaning, in all other #TheMuppets movies and shows, they never looked like a couple. maybe a bit in the 2011 movie. different tonight. feels like there's still more about the show for us to learn in the coming episodes. so that will be fun. #TheMuppets
there was 1 moment early in the show where I did think Jim Henson would approve. I really hope so. that legacy feels important. #TheMuppets

I'm a little disappointed but not 100% surprised in what I saw. I was a bit underwhelmed. It's new for the Muppets to be in the real world, and I hope I can (and get the time) to adjust to it. Despite the grade of C+/B-, I'm going to continue watching the show. It's The Muppets. I would continue watching unless I was truly offended. Other shows with this grade, however, I wouldn't.