So, the fourth and final issue of Muppet Sherlock Holmes came out yesterday. And it’s – well, it’s a comic book. And it has characters who look like Muppets, and it has a story that’s based on one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. And that’s the end of this review. See you next time!
Okay, I guess I should say more words about this thing.
My Tough Pigs cohorts and I haven’t had much praise for this series in our reviews of the three previous issues, and I’m going to have to go ahead and make it 0 for 4 here. I have no complaints about Amy Mebberson’s art – her rendering of a portrait of Crazy Harry is especially lovely. But Patrick Storck’s script just didn’t do anything for me. I just now finished reading the issue, and I couldn’t begin to explain the story to you. It’s called “The Musgrove Ritual,” and it’s based on the Arthur Conan Doyle Holmes story “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” (because Musgrove is a funnier word than Musgrave???) It opens with Gonzo/Holmes, Fozzie/Watson, and Kermit/LeStrade sitting down for tea at the Diogenes Club. They’re joined by a character played by Rowlf, and Fozzie’s narration explains that Holmes and his friends are “intrigued by the ideas offered up by Sherlock’s (allegedly smarter) brother Mycroft Holmes.”
Okay, so this time Rowlf will be involved with the issue’s investigation. That might be fun, to see how he interacts with the other characters, right? But no, it’s a moot point, because he exits on page 6 and is never seen again. So what was the point of even including him in the issue? Well, he delivers this line:
Here’s the thing: The Muppets make a lot of bad jokes. That’s one of the things we love about them, and Rowlf was a master at it in his “Veterinarian’s Hospital” role. But it seems to me there are limits on what can actually be considered a joke, even when it’s a bad one. And “hy-paw-thetical” doesn’t make me go, “Awwwww, Rowlf, that’s a terrible joke, ha ha ha!” It just makes me wonder if the whole reason Rowlf was included in this issue is the fact that he has paws.
And then there’s the plot, which, as I alluded to three paragraphs ago, I still don’t understand. Mr. Musgrove (Sam the Eagle) asks Holmes and friends to help him locate his missing butler and maid, and the clues lead them to a bag of trinkets hidden in a lake. The bag appears to contain a diamond-topped crown, but nobody ever seems to care or even notice that it’s a diamond. The very same crown appears in the painting of Crazy Harry, a portrait which Kermit suspects may hold important clues.
Eventually they find the butler (Scooter) stuck under a trap door, and he tells them where to find the maid, and then there’s a final confrontation between Holmes and Dr. Moriarity (Uncle Deadly), except that nothing actually happens and then the series is over. And nobody mentions the portrait again, or what the clues were, or why one full page of this comic book was devoted to it, or why the butler was in the trap door or what any of it had to do with Moriarity.
So just like the previous issues, this one doesn’t work as a detective story. But does it really have to? It’s the Muppet version, after all. That’s true, but Muppet Peter Pan told a fine adventure story, and Muppet Snow White managed to hit all the important points of the fairy tale (including some that weren’t included in the Disney movie), so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect Muppet Sherlock Holmes to function as a mystery with an actual denouement. And I wouldn’t care as much if it were a rollicking dose of Muppet madness, but it’s not. Gonzo’s not Gonzo-y, Fozzie’s not Fozzie-y, and even Sam is just stiff and boring rather than being entertainingly pompous.
I think Sherlock Holmes just wasn’t a good fit for the Muppets to begin with. If the Muppets are going to do adaptations, they do better with telling familiar stories and recognizable characters. Most people have never read “The Adventures of the Musgrave Ritual,” so there’s no fun in seeing the Muppet do wacky twists on all its plot points.
As far as I know, the next adaptation comic hasn’t been announced yet, but what if they moved into more contemporary pop culture kind of stuff? They wouldn’t have to do something as specific as Muppet Battlestar Galactica, but they could do a Muppet Science Fiction series with nods to all the popular (and yes, oft-parodied) genre classics. Or Muppet Reality TV, or Muppet High School Comedy, or Muppet Kung-Fu Movie. I realize these are probably terrible ideas, but my point is, Muppet parodies should be fun, and Muppet Sherlock Holmes mostly wasn’t.
I did appreciate the Lost reference in this issue, though.
Click here to tell me I’m being way too critical of a comic book about a frog with a moustache, on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com