Sunday, August 26, 2012

Muppet Classic Theater, Part 2: Faulty Fables

3) The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The Original Story:

A young shepherd who often gets bored when tending to his flock takes great amusement in scaring his neighbors by repeatedly shouting that a wolf has come to eat his sheep.  The villagers eventually grow sick of his practical joke and learn not to trust him.  When an actual wolf does terrorize his flock, the boy's cries for help go unheeded and he loses his sheep.

The Muppet Twist:

The boy is not intentionally deceitful.  He is just prone to overreactions.  So, after scaring the townspeople with stories about impending earthquakes and tidal waves, they don't believe him in the threat is justified.

Also, since we can't kill off all the sheep in a children's video, a giant ram named Norman is recruited to fend off the wolf.

BAAAAAAH!

How Does the Twist Affect the Original?

Well, the original moral and entire point of the story is eliminated and changed to "don't overreact."  I suppose that's a necessary lesson to teach children, although it is always better to be safe than sorry.  But teaching children not to intentionally lie lest people will lose trust in them is a far more important message.

Because of the new take on the story, the wolf even comes in and explicitly tells Gonzo (the boy) that he wants him to learn how his overreactions will get him in to trouble.  For "dramatic tension," he gives Gonzo a day to convince the townspeople that the wolf is real, but since they ultimately don't believe him anyway, this addition to the story is just a pointless excuse to add a musical number.

We're too busy singing to acknowledge your credible photographic evidence!

And yet, by the end, after the giant sheep takes out the wolf, the town treats Gonzo like a hero.  Because everything has to end up nice and sweet.

Congratulations for doing nothing and letting a deus ex machina save you!

Rating:  The story misses the point of the original and the characters behave strangely in order to pad out the very short tale.  1/5

4) Rumpelstiltskin

The Original Story:

To impress the king, a miller claims that his daughter can turn straw into gold with a spinning wheel.  To test her skills, the king places her in a room of straw and if she is unable to perform the task by the next day, she will be imprisoned in the dungeon.  The daughter cannot spin the straw but a magical imp appears and offers to do it in exchange for her necklace.  A deal is made and the next day, the king tests her again with more straw.  The imp reappears and creates gold in exchange for a ring.  On the third day, the king tests her on more time (because he's got issues) and the imp agrees to do it in exchange for her future first-born child.

The daughter is saved from imprisonment and goes on to marry the king.  When her first child is born, the imp appears to reclaim the baby.  The queen pleads to break off the deal and the imp decides to give her a day to guess his name.  If she cannot guess correctly, the baby will be his.  The queen tries desperately to come up with the correct name, but fails.  However, she later overhears the imp singing a song in which he reveals his name to be "Rumpelstiltskin."  She then guesses his name correctly and he disappears.

The Muppet Twist:

The stories are virtually identical except the queen (Piggy) guesses the correct name by checking the tags of his clothing, since she surmised that his mother would have written it on there when he went to weirdo camp.

What a twist!

How Does the Twist Affect the Original?

Well, it's not the most clever solution, but it beats the idea that the clever imp was just foolish enough to shout his name out loud.  Plus, it gave us a funny joke in that Piggy's first guess is "Ralph Lauren."

The story is a strange one because nothing really makes sense.  This magic man can just turn straw into gold without explanation.  And even though he had made a deal to take the baby, he still gives the queen a chance to revoke the original deal.  Maybe he's just a compulsive gambler.

That's the look of a guy who spends all his time at the slots.

There seems to be somewhat of a message in the story, in that you should get to know the people from whom you request help.  Otherwise, you'll just be selfish.  This is kind of built up at the beginning when Piggy just brushes Rumpelstiltskin aside, claiming she doesn't care what his name is, she just wants the gold, but they never follow up on this idea.  But this is the only reason (that I can tell) that this story would even exist.

Rating:  The story remains straightforward and is slightly improved with the added twist.  Also, the name-guessing song is really fun.  4/5

Coming up, new clothes and new shoes.  Well, new shoes, at least.

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