ABC has announced that it plans to bring The Muppets back to television in the fall.
I’m old enough to remember when The Muppets first aired in the mid-1970’s. Although only on for five seasons, it aired in re-runs during much of the 1980’s. So I spent a good chunk of time watching that show as a kid.
I do remember ABC airing the short-lived Muppets Tonight in 1996. But, as I understand it, this features the traditional Muppets we know and love such as Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Animal, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf The Dog and The Swedish Chef.
But here’s what worries me:
This time around, the show is being billed as a more adult take on The Muppets. Shot in a documentary format, the new series will explore the Muppets’ relationships, romances, desires and disappointments.
Do we really need to know what goes between Kermit & Miss Piggy behind closed doors? Will we see Miss Piggy physically abuse Kermit only to have Kermit arrested for domestic violence? This I can do without. Although it could explain why Miss Piggy won a lifetime achievement award from the Sackler Center for Feminist Art earlier this week.
Although, to be fair, Jim Henson did conceive the show be a bit risque as demonstrated with one of the two pilots which aired on ABC in the mid-1970’s which was titled, “The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence”. So perhaps this new show will be closer to Henson’s original intent. Nevertheless, The Muppet Show as we know it was a family oriented show.
Aside from the Muppet characters, the other strength of the original show were the guest hosts. Everybody who was everybody in the 1970’s hosted the show including George Burns, Milton Berle, Gene Kelly, Elton John, Ethel Merman, Carol Burnett and Diana Ross.
Because the show was produced by ITV and filmed in London, there were a lot of British guest hosts like Leo Sayer, Peter Ustinov, Twiggy, John Cleese and Glenda Jackson.
On a personal note, when I interned for Labour MP Tessa Jowell her office was opposite Glenda Jackson’s. When she heard my accent she asked Andy Burnham (who is now favored to become the new leader of the Labour Party), “Andy, do we have a foreigner in our midst?” When I said I was from Canada, she replied, “Ah, a colonial no less.”
Nevertheless, Glenda was very friendly. In fact, much friendlier than most MPs. In fact, I asked her about her experience on The Muppet Show and she told me that she and the Hensons exchanged Christmas cards every year.
Thank goodness for the vision of the late ITV head Lew Grade to bring The Muppet Show to reality. Believe it or not, CBS turned down the chance to produce the show. Ironicially, ITV would distribute the show to CBS to air on its affiliates.
I mean how could have CBS resisted this pitch?