The Muppets are returning to our televisions on a regular basis next week, with the premiere of The Muppets on ABC. As we eagerly await the big show, we’ve designated this entire week Return of the Muppets Week!
By now, you’ve probably heard that the Muppets are getting their own primetime television series for the first time in nearly two decades. If not, welcome to ToughPigs! Grab a seat, help yourself to some lemonade in the fridge, and make yourself at home. But for the rest of you, you’ve probably seen and heard some things about the new series that offer some glimpse into what to expect from this new show. For me, personally, there are still a few things left that I hope to see on the new show, and without further ado, I’d like to share them with you.
- Gonzo’s Sweater-Vest
I only say this because it’s my favorite outfit of Gonzo’s. I love that the calming sweater-vest belies the madness that goes on in his head. And if our recent Twitter poll has anything to say, it looks like the Muppet fandom at large does too. While the rest of the world sees a relaxed yet orderly outfit, we know he’s thinking about seaweed, electrical circuit-breakers, and the poetry of Lord Byron, in that order. My only worry is that given the average climate of Burbank, California, he won’t need that sweater-vest too often. The outfit that we’ve seen in the first footage-containing promo isn’t bad, but I’ll still long for the sweater-vest.
- A Full-On, Classic Kermit Freakout
Producing a daily talk show staffed by your well-meaning but sometimes bumbling friends and starring your recently-made ex-girlfriend can be a bit stressful, and eventually, Kermit is likely to reach his boiling point. And this is a chance for a good, old-fashioned Kermit freakout. We’ve seen Kermit lose his cool, but it’s been a while since we had that classic level of anger. I’m talking that “Kermit the FROOOOOOG T-shirt-yelling,” Piggy-firing, ocean-voyage-regretting rage we haven’t seen in a long time. I want to see Kermit let his frustrations out in the funniest way possible.
- Bean Bunny
Whatever happened to Bean Bunny? He was funny, and a perfect response for those who thought the Muppets were cute and kids’ stuff. He was the target of so much violence (as violent as Muppets can be, at least). He’d be a perfect way to get the writers’ frustrations out on the inevitable scores of people who say that the Muppets cross a line by doing a primetime show with “adult” subject matter. Yeah, Fozzie Bear can go on a date. The Electric Mayhem can be “legally” happy. The Muppets are not your babysitter. They can have an edge to them every once in a while. And if you don’t like it, watch the bunny. See what happens to him. That’s what the Muppets think of your opinion.
- Walter and Constantine
While the pilot presentation tantalized us with “obscure Muppets that no one remembers,” I genuinely hope the writers and performers don’t forget about the more recent additions to the ensemble. An encouraging sign was shown when Walter could be seen amongst the Muppets in the pilot presentation. Hopefully he’s part of the crew in the actual episodes. And while it might be more challenging to bring an amphibian criminal mastermind into the world of late night television, I would be ecstatic to see Constantine show up somewhere in the show. Maybe someone of his cunning would make for a fun entertainment executive. Or his knowledge of explosives could make him a good special effects guy. Imagine an explode-off between Constantine and Crazy Harry! A fan can dream…
- Muppet Improv
First of all: kudos to whoever decided to have the Muppets and their performers make appearances at San Diego Comic-Con and the D23 Expo this year. This is a brilliant way to get fans excited for a new show. It also allows the public to see one my favorite thing about the Muppet performers: their incredible improvisation skills. These performers know their characters so well that going off-script is effortless. It’s incredible to see Muppets interacting with the public, and it’s something that could work well in the new show if applied properly. Maybe “Up Late with Miss Piggy” can have a “Muppet on the Street” segment. Maybe they can have the Muppets go out into the real world to work on location. Muppet improv is comedy gold. Don’t be afraid to show it off.
- Stronger Female Characters
If I can get serious for a second…have you ever noticed that the Muppets are kind of a boys’ club? Sure, there are female Muppets around, but with the exception of Miss Piggy, few of them have become well-defined characters. People know the nuances of Animal, but what about Janice? When was the last time Camilla or Yolanda Rat got a substantial role? Granted, there isn’t much opportunity to explore a lot of characters in a two-hour movie, but with a sitcom, there are much more chances to see minor characters become more prominent. And why not have new female characters? Denise is a good start, but there’s more room to improve. Maybe now’s the time to finally bring Skeeter into the fold. Given that the show is aiming for the Muppet Babies generation, I bet that would make the target audience’s dreams come true. (Shoop-a-dooby-doo!)
- Muppet Bloopers
So you know how I said Muppet improv is comedy gold? Well, Muppet bloopers are one of the things that make life worth living. Nobody is better than making fun of their mistakes than the Muppets. The outtakes from The Muppets at Walt Disney World manage to get me to crack up every time I watch them. Where else but in outtakes could you see Beaker finally take his revenge on Bunsen, or Fozzie give into his animal instincts and attempt to eat Kermit, or even hear the Swedish Chef speak perfect English? This would be a perfect way to keep fans laughing over the end credits, or thank fans for a great season when the season finale comes around. The world needs more Muppet bloopers. It may not solve the question of world peace, but it’s hard to be angry when you’re laughing so much.
So there you have it. If The Muppets could incorporate these ideas into their show, I’m sure it would be a smash hit. And if it did become a success based on my suggestions, then maybe it would be worth it to the show to name me Head of Nerdy Suggestions! I work for relatively cheap, I have a college degree, and I’d even be willing to wear pants to work! Who else can offer that?
Click here to watch what happens to the bunny on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Matthew Soberman