I Sure Wish The Muppets Hadn’t Gotten Cancelled

Published: May 13, 2016
Categories: Commentary, Feature


I’m pretty upset today, because one of my favorite shows on TV got cancelled yesterday by ABC.  What’s wrong with those network people?  How could they rip Castle away from us like that?

Ha.  Ha ha.  I laugh to keep from crying, you see.

As you’ve heard by now, The Muppets has been cancelled, despite all our hardest finger-crossing and our loudest hashtags.  You can tell the show has been cancelled because of all the entertainment news sites posting articles that begin with something like “It’s time to end the music, it’s time to unplug the lights,” or “Looks like they’ve lost the rainbow connection.”  Entertainment news sites love crap like that.

So now we won’t have new episodes to look forward to, and talk about, and quote jokes from, and re-watch and re-watch and re-watch.  And we may never know what happened when Piggy woke up on that plane with Kermit!  Did they get back together?!

I hate that I won’t get to see more Up Late with Miss Piggy.  I hate that I won’t get more of the unexpected new direction for Scooter, or the marvelous Muppets incarnation of Uncle Deadly, or the new and improved Yolanda.

ep13 - new - clueless4And man, all the articles we were planning to write for this website!  Now I’ll never get to post my list “The 17 All-Time Best Episodes of The Muppets.”  Or my “Season 2 of The Muppets vs. Season 2 of Wings” comparison.  Or my “This Newsman-Centric Storyline Was Even Better Than the First One!” commentary.

I don’t have to explain things to you.  You’re a Muppet fan.  You already know.  The Muppets showed room for improvement at the start, but it was getting better and more Muppety as it went along, especially after the real-world and in-show hiatus.  It’s a shame not enough viewers who complained at the beginning stuck with it or came back to try it after it had a chance to evolve. I imagine the people who own and make decisions for the Muppets feel like they’ve learned some valuable lessons about what to do and what not to do with the characters to ensure success.

I want to be sarcastic now and follow that by saying, “The most important thing they’ve learned is to never try anything new or different.”  And to a certain extent, it really does feel like the Muppets are trapped in an oddly-shaped box by an audience with a million different expectations of what the Muppets should be, largely based on memories of watching movies and TV shows from decades ago.

ep 14 - camillaBut yeah, I can easily imagine a company e-mail going out today with the subject “REMINDER: PEOPLE DON’T LIKE IT WHEN MUPPETS ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SEX EXISTS.”  And yet, it’s also easy to imagine an alternate scenario where the writers had played it safe and viewers had stayed away because the Muppets is kids’ stuff.

It’s tempting to immediately say this is all ABC’s fault, or Disney’s fault, for not promoting it, or whatever.  But the truth is, they promoted the heck out of it, especially leading up to the premiere.  And there were so many top-tier guest stars, and a few great second-tier ones (You know the ones).

But why would they keep airing a show that’s getting bad ratings?  They’re business people.  They want to stay in business.  The Muppets was reportedly a pretty expensive show, so it makes sense that they’d want to replace it with something cheaper, even if the cheaper show doesn’t have dancing pigs.  For whatever reason, the TV viewing masses didn’t want to watch The Muppets.

So now the show is cancelled, and… now what?

There was a time, some years ago, when I thought maybe the Muppets were nearing the end of their long, illustrious career, and I tried to talk myself into being okay with that.  That was in the early 2000s.  That was when a big German company went to the store and impulse-bought the Jim Henson Company and Formula One Racing in the check-out line.  But then the Henson family bought the company back, and then Disney bought the Muppets, and then the future seemed full of potential.

And then there was a time, fewer years ago, when I thought maybe the Muppets were nearing the end of their long, illustrious career, and I tried to talk myself into being okay with that.  That was when Disney had owned the Muppets for a while, but they hadn’t done a lot with them beyond a few TV movies and specials that didn’t completely rock the world.  But then a feature film came out in 2011, and it did pretty well, and then the future seemed full of potential.

ep9-animal5And then there was a time, even fewer years ago, when I thought maybe the Muppets blah blah blah because Muppets Most Wanted underperformed.  But then there was this new TV show!  On TV!  And it was like, “Great!  This is what the Muppets are doing for the next few years!”

But now what?

Well, the characters have been keeping pretty active.  Animal just appeared at that Radio Disney thing.  Pepe was on The View just yesterday (cruelly leading us to believe the renewal was a sure thing).  Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson are appearing with their characters at an event in NYC next week.  And The Electric Mayhem is playing a live gig at a music festival this summer, for Zoot’s sake!

So I don’t think this is the end.  I hope it’s not.  I’m not going to try talking myself into being okay with that idea this time, because they’ve gotten to such a good place.  There are all these solid recasts, and characters who’ve had new life breathed into them.  Now, more than six years ago or twelve years ago, it would be a travesty if those guys all went into long-term storage.

Okay, I have the answer to the question “Now what?”

The answer is “I don’t know!”

But don’t count those Muppets out just yet.

Click here to renew The Real O’Neals instead on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com


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