I Hope the Muppets Do Their Own Video Conference Variety Special

Published: May 11, 2020
Categories: Commentary, Feature

It sure was fun to see the Muppets open The Disney Family Sing-Along Volume II, wasn’t it? If you haven’t seen it yet, watch this — and don’t worry, you don’t need to have seen The Disney Family Sing-Along Volume I for it to make sense:

I have to say, when I first heard “the Muppets are going to be on a Disney sing-along special” a few days ago, I assumed it was just going to be Kermit and Miss Piggy… and I was dreading hearing them sing “Rainbow Connection” one more time. Because we’ve heard that song a lot, and because I’m a cranky sourpuss.

But look at all those Muppets! I didn’t expect to see Janice or Rowlf or Walter… and I definitely didn’t expect to see Chip. Even when we’re not in self-isolation, I spend a lot of time thinking about how nice it would be to see the Muppets do something we can watch – and here’s the whole gang, doing something we can watch! And they did a variation on The Muppet Show theme song, a song we’ve heard a lot but not a million times in recent years. That was nice!

During these uncertain, unprecedented, strange, crappy times, when we’re all stuck inside, there’s been a lot of video conferencing-based entertainment, including remotely conducted talk shows, remotely recorded concerts, and self-isolated episodes of Saturday Night Live. Sesame Street joined the trend with the Elmo’s Playdate special, in which the Sesame Muppets played games and sang and had amusing conversations over video conferencing. That special inspried Muppet to say “You know what? The Disney-owned Muppets should really do something like this.”

Not long after, the Jim Henson Company surprised everyone by premiering its video conferencing-based Fraggle Rock: Rock On. It inspired Muppet fans to say “You know what? The Disney-owned Muppets should really do something like this.”

Well, now we’ve seen a bunch of Disney-owned Muppets performing, presumably from the comfort of their performers’ home. That means those performers now have access to those puppets. Which means it’s absolutely the right time for the Muppets to do their very own video conferencing-based special.

A major recurring theme of Muppet productions is that the characters try to put on a show as things go wrong in wacky ways. For the last several weeks, all around the world, people have been attempting to use Zoom and similar platforms to hold important meetings as things go wrong in wacky ways. It would be fun to see what happens when the Muppets attempt to entertain us using technology they might not fully understand.

Think of the possibilities: Gonzo can’t figure out how to unmute himself! Kermit feels sheepish when it turns out Walter’s room is full of Kermit posters! Scooter asks a Muppet monster to turn off his filter so they can see his face when it’s not comically distorted – but it turns out that’s the monster’s real face! Fozzie is about to deliver a hilarious punchline when his internet connection drops out!

These are pretty dumb ideas, but I’m sure the Muppet people could come up with better ones. Also, as seen in that sing-along number, celebrities are all stuck at home too, so they could bring in a guest star or two. It would be cool if it’s someone who hasn’t previously worked with the Muppets. Like, say… George Washington.

And if nothing else, Disney already paid to have all those puppets shipped to their puppeteers, which can’t have been cheap. Why, I bet they even paid for insurance. So really, doing a Muppet special would just be making sure they get their money’s worth.

It may be that they’re already planning something like this. I hope they are. If they are, I hope it incorporates all the Muppets we saw in the sing-along number. And I hope they do some funny comedy bits, and sing some great songs… but maybe not “Rainbow Connection.”

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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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