Matthew Wrather hosts with Matthew Belinkie, Peter Fenzel, John Perich, and Timothy Swann to overthink the newly opened beta of Star Wars: The Old Republic and the new film The Muppets.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip178.mp3]
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Here’s another interesting thing about The Muppets – it’s the first time these characters have been portrayed as middle-aged. They certainly don’t LOOK any different (although I think Fozzie had a few gray hairs). But Kermit’s now living in a big, dusty mansion, Miss Piggy is a magazine editor, Gonzo has his own company. These are the same characters as in The Muppet Movie, but they’ve been out in the world for 20 years or so.
It’s interesting that none of the characters seem to have families (as far as we know) but when they make The Muppets 2, I would expect to see marriage and kids start to become real issues.
Great podcast guys. I wish I were able to join.
On the ending: you’ll be interested to learn that a more straightforward, upbeat ending was originally scripted but changed for the final version. No spoilers, so I’ll just link to the article:
The original ending sounds better – pretty clever, actually! I’m not a huge fan of the ending as it stands. The Muppets BOTH come way way short of their fundraising goal AND completely mob Hollywood Boulevard with thousands of fans. I’m confused: are they less popular than they thought, or MORE popular? Seems muddled.
But clearly, they really wanted that last heartfelt speech from Kermit (“We’re going to walk out that door with our heads held high”) so they needed the Muppets to feel temporarily defeated.
Technically Mark, I think you are recorded saying Hello and nothing else. Makes it very hard to decide what to put on the appearances chart.
A very, very good episode. Too bad Lee was not present. Timothy answer to a question of the week was so bleak it got me depressed for a minute or two.
So, I’m a virgin when it comes to Muppets movies. From what I can tell the hosts are very versed in all things Muppets. Could you name a few movies I should watch?
Well, you have the Muppets qua Muppets, and the Muppets qua Sesame Street, which are horses in the same stable, but not really the same breed. Same as the Muppet Babies, which are actually quite good, for a children’s cartoon.
As far as I’m concerned, the big three Muppet movies are The Muppet Movie from 1979, The Great Muppet Caper from 1981, and The Muppets Take Manhattan from 1984. All three movies are pretty dated at this point, but should be entertaining as period pieces; as we mentioned on the podcast, the original Muppet Movie might not be the best place to start – the other two are more accessible. I personally like the Great Muppet Caper.
If you want to see the newer, post-classic Muppet Movies, after Jim Henson passed the Kermit baton to Steve Whitmire, the three good movies are Muppet Christmas Carol (which is obvious, but deceptively good, with Michael Caine), Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets from Space – these are all cornier, brighter and flatter than the older, more textured Muppet movies.
The good Sesame Street movies are Follow that Bird (which was a feature film and is kind of weird and dark), Don’t Eat the Pictures, Big Bird in Japan, and Big Bird in China. The last three are more specifically educational, but still have the old Muppet/Sesame Street aesthetic and have high IMDB ratings for a reason.
The Dark Crystal is legendary Jim Henson, but not really the Muppets.
Or you can find old episodes of The Muppet Show, which should be pretty accessible, even if the celebrities are kind of random at this point.
I saw Muppet Babies as a kid. Now when I’m thinking about it it was well before Iron Curtain fell. Strange. Guess our Overlord liked all-things-puppets.
OK, now I’m surprised, I was googling the old show we had on TV back in late 80s, Fraggle Rock, and that one is also Henson’s work.
As the rest of your reply goes, thank you! I think I’ll go with “The Muppets Take Manhattan”, “Muppet Treasure Island” and “Muppets from Space”.
How should we rate “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie”? I’ve always found both the title and Joan Cusack’s work to be kind of endearing, but I guess it may end up just as “average Muppets fare” compared to better, bigger pictures.
I found It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas movie to be just ok overall in my opinion, but I did LOVE the Moulin Scrooge parody on Moulin Rouge. THAT, I believe, was brilliant.
I can’t recall where I found this, perhaps here, but here’s the most original mahnah short film I’ve seen. Warning, there’s some serious violence though it’s not hugely explicit. Think of it as the Sopranos/Wire/Breaking Bad reference to mahnahmanology.
Belinkie, when you were talking about class issues and Statler and Waldorf, for a good minute I thought you were saying “lumpen” (as in “lumpenproletariat”) instead of “Muppets.” Shows where my mind goes…
Sorry to say, Rather, but you obviously haven’t seen enough of The Muppet Show. Statler & Waldorf go so far as to do a song & dance routine! Unless it’s a deeply couched nightmare sequence, they can’t be amputees ;-)
I noticed in this episode it was commented that there was no precedent for Walter’s whistling talent — it just manifested seemingly out of nowhere for his Whistling Caruso number. After my first viewing I thought much the same, but a repeat showing proved me wrong — he is seen whistling throughout the movie, most notably during “We Build This City”.