My Muppet Comparison Project

MartyMuppets

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This is something I've posted on Facebook and I thought I'd share it here. It may generate some interesting discussion. :smile:

Who hasn't heard of The Muppet Show? Even if you've never seen an episode, you've probably heard something about this television puppetry series. It was around approximately 1976 to 1980 and was uniquely entertaining.

The late famous puppeteer Jim Henson had a vision of a vaudeville theater run by a cast of puppets he dubbed Muppets, who would put on a show each week featuring a different human celebrity guest, resulting in musical numbers and sketches, plus backstage mayhem to add to the humour. Sometimes some of the mayhem would even creep into some of the acts, even if they were supposed to be serious. It was a masterpiece.

Apparently Jim had an idea for an updated version of the show changing the setting to fit the times in the early 90's. Since vaudeville theater is now so outdated, the beloved Muppets would do a show this time from a television studio. There would be the exact same format with celebrity guests and music, comedy and moments of mayhem in a more modern setting. Unfortunately Jim was struck suddenly by a serious illness from which he died before he could begin work on this project. But a few years after his passing in 1996, his team of Muppeteers undertook to fulfill their leader's dream. The show was called Muppets Tonight and it lasted only a short time before being cancelled.

Why did it not take off like the original? It had many of the same beloved characters and a few new ones added to it. It did have potential in its beginnings. Presumably it was faithful to Jim's concept for it. Sure it was different in certain ways naturally. The Muppet Show had a frog named Kermit serve as the master of ceremonies voiced by Jim and among the theater audience were two old men named after famous hotels. Mr. Statler and Mr. Waldorf, who had their own private theater box for two separate from the rest of the attendees. Muppets Tonight sees Kermit stepping down and handing the host's job over to Clifford, who probably is an anthropomorphic human, though his face resembles some kind of fish-like creature. From what I've heard surfing the net, Jim did indeed always intend that this should be the case. Also Statler and Waldorf appear in scenes depicting them watching Muppets Tonight on a television in a nursing home. This was probably because a tv studio audience would not have anything like theater boxes.

Some fans try to compare all 5 seasons of The Muppet Show, 120 episodes to only 22 episodes of Muppets Tonight. That is monumental and unbalanced. I am taking only the first season, 24 episodes, and will take them one by one with an episode of Muppets Tonight to contrast and see how strong or weak the attempted revival was next to the beloved original. I will share my thoughts here as regularly as I can.
 

Pig's Laundry

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This is something I've posted on Facebook and I thought I'd share it here. It may generate some interesting discussion. :smile:

Who hasn't heard of The Muppet Show? Even if you've never seen an episode, you've probably heard something about this television puppetry series. It was around approximately 1976 to 1980 and was uniquely entertaining.

The late famous puppeteer Jim Henson had a vision of a vaudeville theater run by a cast of puppets he dubbed Muppets, who would put on a show each week featuring a different human celebrity guest, resulting in musical numbers and sketches, plus backstage mayhem to add to the humour. Sometimes some of the mayhem would even creep into some of the acts, even if they were supposed to be serious. It was a masterpiece.

Apparently Jim had an idea for an updated version of the show changing the setting to fit the times in the early 90's. Since vaudeville theater is now so outdated, the beloved Muppets would do a show this time from a television studio. There would be the exact same format with celebrity guests and music, comedy and moments of mayhem in a more modern setting. Unfortunately Jim was struck suddenly by a serious illness from which he died before he could begin work on this project. But a few years after his passing in 1996, his team of Muppeteers undertook to fulfill their leader's dream. The show was called Muppets Tonight and it lasted only a short time before being cancelled.

Why did it not take off like the original? It had many of the same beloved characters and a few new ones added to it. It did have potential in its beginnings. Presumably it was faithful to Jim's concept for it. Sure it was different in certain ways naturally. The Muppet Show had a frog named Kermit serve as the master of ceremonies voiced by Jim and among the theater audience were two old men named after famous hotels. Mr. Statler and Mr. Waldorf, who had their own private theater box for two separate from the rest of the attendees. Muppets Tonight sees Kermit stepping down and handing the host's job over to Clifford, who probably is an anthropomorphic human, though his face resembles some kind of fish-like creature. From what I've heard surfing the net, Jim did indeed always intend that this should be the case. Also Statler and Waldorf appear in scenes depicting them watching Muppets Tonight on a television in a nursing home. This was probably because a tv studio audience would not have anything like theater boxes.

Some fans try to compare all 5 seasons of The Muppet Show, 120 episodes to only 22 episodes of Muppets Tonight. That is monumental and unbalanced. I am taking only the first season, 24 episodes, and will take them one by one with an episode of Muppets Tonight to contrast and see how strong or weak the attempted revival was next to the beloved original. I will share my thoughts here as regularly as I can.
Any updates on this? Sounds intriguing.
 

MartyMuppets

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My first installment is now ready. The Muppet Show with Ruth Buzzi and Muppets Tonight with Michelle Pfeiffer.

It really doesn't matter what order you watch The Muppet Show in. Throughout all its five season run there is virtually no real continuity. The episodes are stand alone or at the most there is very loose connecting continuity throughout the series. This episode guest stars comedian Ruth Buzzi. Generally the guest stars rarely play major roles in the story. Usually the plot takes place around them as they do their songs, sketches and backstage interactions with the characters.
By contrast on Muppets Tonight the story often centers around the guest star. For the most part Muppets Tonight has little or no continuity either. Although this episode guest starring Michelle Pfeiffer is the very first one made and unlike The Muppet Show it offers a clear beginning point with Kermit the Frog welcoming all the Muppets to their new Muppet Television Studio. This kind of implies an over-all continuity link with Kermit's calling the Studio their own brand new property after leaving the Muppet Theater for undisclosed reasons. Also Kermit asks for somebody to volunteer to host their new show. Everybody runs out of the conference room except for Clifford who was talking on his mobile. Kermit lays the job on him, but he doesn't mind as he's always dreamed of having his own show.

Now for some of the individual details.

As host of The Muppet Show Kermit opens proceedings by welcoming the audience and announcing Ruth Buzzi as their guest star. The backstage story involves a mechanical wind-up robotic version of Kermit himself that the owner of the theater has given to his nephew Scooter as a gift. Scooter works as a backstage hand and he opens a crate with his gift. The key protrudes from the back distinguishing it from the real Kermit, who is deeply indignant. The robot causes him some annoyance and trouble in between the show backstage, though it breaks down in the end to his utter delight. Some character and sketch highlights include a rock group called The Electric Mayhem, a pair of singers, Wayne and Wanda, who always fail to successfully perform a duet together and a Talk Spot segment in which Kermit has a chat with the guest star onstage.

As I've said before two old men, Statler and Waldorf have their own personal theater box for two separate from the rest of the audience. The running gag is that they can't stand the show, but they always attend it. In this first season though their hatred of the show seems to be more mild. Sometimes they seem to enjoy it, in particular Waldorf, though they still have a few negative criticisms here and there. At least it can be assumed that one reason they likely enjoy coming in the end is because they love to heckle and taunt the show's stand up comedian, a bear named Fozzie. In truth they seem justified in their actions because Fozzie is by far the worst comedian you could ever hear. For the human audience watching the episode the paradox is they enjoy laughing at these two old men giving a terrible comedian, who thinks he's wonderfully funny, a hard time. Fozzie almost always has a monologue in the earlier series but they become less frequent as it goes along. Statler and Waldorf may have had fun back then, but with less opportunities they literally come to ponder just why they keep coming to the theater.

With Muppets Tonight they are watching the new show on television at a nursing home. They still hate it but they still watch it. They have a couple of scenes the first of which they tell a nurse something is wrong with the TV because it's ON! She just shakes her head in disbelief as they laugh. Once during The Muppet Show they said to each other the television is better than live theater because you can turn it OFF! Too bad for them, they forgot about this pearl of wisdom.

As for Muppets Tonight Kermit is helping Clifford with his first show. They do not have a guest star but Miss Piggy approaches Clifford offering to be the guest, providing he gives her two nephews Andy and Randy a regular job. Clifford agrees but he is astounded at how Andy and Randy are way beyond dim-witted. They are the stupidest pair of Muppet characters who make the dumbest characters from the original show seem tame. After all the pigs leave Kermit introduces Michelle Pfeiffer to Clifford as the guest star. When Rizzo the Rat points out to Clifford that he already accepted Miss Piggy as guest things get nervous. Clifford tries to keep Piggy and Michelle from meeting throughout the show. Inevitably they both meet and realize they are both performing the same closing number song. They compete as they sing and it's quite funny to behold climaxing with Piggy shooting a cannon at Michelle. She does miss and they make up in the end realizing that Clifford was to blame for the fiasco. They knock him down together and Kermit apologizes to him promising the next show will run smoother.

I'll stop here. There's more details of Muppets Tonight for fuller comparison, new characters and different sketches, and I'll elaborate in future installments.
 
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