Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stuck In Everything BUT the Same Old Routine

An unofficial mantra that The Muppet Show regularly stands by is "Expect the unexpected."  Very rarely does the straightforward occur on the show.  Traditional songs are covered in non-traditional scenarios, abstract creatures speak made-up languages, and sketches don't end without something going horribly wrong.  The show became increasingly bizarre because the writer's always had to top what had appeared the previous week.  By the third season, Henson and his crew had to change the game.  And that game-changer appeared with the introduction of a seven-foot-tall carrot singing tunes from The Pirates of Penzance.

And this is just the first act of the show! (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

"Episode 304: Gilda Radner" is considered by many to be a classic due to the presence of its guest star.  Known for her work on Saturday Night Live, Radner was one of the few cast members who actually appreciated Henson and the Muppets when they worked on the show in its first season.  She happily brought her comedic charm to the set of The Muppet Show for the chance to work with her old friends again.  And while she is a great asset to this episode, a guest star cannot carry an full episode by his or herself.  She is just half of the reason this episode is fondly remembered.

The episode starts right away toying with expectations.  Radner appears as her classic character Emily Litella who, like many SNL characters, has a common schitck.  Litella often mishears key words and gets worked up into a repressed outrage over her misinterpretation before being corrected and stating sheepishly, "Nevermind!"  This time she confuses "Muppets" for "Muffins" and the audience would be so familiar with this routine that they could say her catchprase in unison with her.

Easing the audience in with a smile.

The opening number involves a classic bit of Muppet misdirection where "a traditional Eskimo lullaby" turns out to be the "Lullaby of Broadway."  Songs like this are so common to the show that it'd be weird if they actually did sing an Eskimo luallaby.

Lulling us into a false sense of security.

Then, we get our first hint that this show will be different.  Radner prepares for her first number, and discovers her singing partner for the "Parrots of Penzance" number is here for the "Carrots of Penzance."  As Kermit says, "I introduce 'em, I don't explain 'em."

It's a shame this character never appeared again.

It would have been typical for The Muppet Show to include a giant parrot for this bit, but taking the pun one step further into a non-sensical outcome is "a terrible joke, but it's worthy of us," as Henson stated.  The number goes on much longer than the average song as it includes squabbling amongst Radner and the carrot as they attempt to prove to the other that they can sing better.  Having just the carrot perform would have been enough, but making him this vain operetta singer ready to allow his duet partner to look bad on stage takes this segment into a whole new territory.

And when there is one singing vegetable, more can't be far behind.

Contining with the theme of "unlike anything we've seen before," we are introduced to the first "Muppet Melodrama."  This was intended to be a recurring segment, but it only appeared once after this (possibly because there was only one joke and it worked well the first time it was told).  In a rare collaboration of characters, the trio of Miss Piggy, Uncle Deadly, and Wayne (of "Wayne and Wanda" fame) would reenact classic moments similar to The Perils of Pauline (the inspiration for Dudley Do-Right and any scenario where there is a dashing hero, a mustachioed villain, and a damsel-in-distress).

The Perils of Piggy

The plot is so obvious that it barely gets past the introduction of the hero for expectations to be thwarted.  Wayne appears and immediately bonds with the villainous Deadly over their shared passion for flamenco dancing.  And Piggy falls to her watery grave below, provoking her to reprimand her co-stars with some swift karate chops after the scene is finished.

Justice is served, with a side of bacon.

This is followed by a return appearance of the cruel ringmaster Marvin Suggs and his abused Muppaphones, but, in yet another reversal of expectations, Suggs gets a taste of his own medicine.

We have reached the halfway point of the episode, and despite all the wackiness, everything is par for the course on The Muppet Show.  Up next is an installment of the reliable recurring sketch, "Muppet Labs."  Bunsen will invent something, and Beaker will suffer as a result.  We're used to the routine.  But wait, what's Gilda Radner doing?

I don't make these episodes, I just report on them.

For the first time, a human guest star is appearing in a "Muppet Labs" sketch (not counting Peter Ustinov's appearance in the second one which was in the non-canon pre-Beaker era).  Since celebrities are always able to pick which Muppets they want to appear on screen with, it is evident from this arrangement that Radner's favorite Muppet was Beaker.  And when you choose Beaker, you're going to get stuck with him.  Literally.

As Mac Davis would find out in a later episode.

Bunsen invents super-adhesive glue and of course, the glue ends up everywhere.  Gilda gets trapped in Beaker's exercise equipment as Bunsen starts attracting all of his desk supplies.  Driving home the theme of this episode, Bunsen remarks, "It wasn't meant to go this way!"  Normally, this would be the end of the sketch but this small action affects rest of the episode permanently.

It's like the Butterfly Effect. 

Rowlf and Zoot can't put down of their musical instruments,...

...the Newsman is glued to his seat during a riveting news flash,...

...all of Piggy's dreams start coming true,...

...and Gonzo can't keep his eyes of the television set!

The show runs "normally" in an attempt to compensate for this added nuisance and it all leads to Radner's show-stopping final number "Tap Your Troubles Away."  This is an amazing spectacle as it greatly combines the comedy of both the Muppets and Radner perfectly.  There is a gracefulness to the mayhem and it is easily one of The Muppet Show's finest moments.

After all is said and done, the cast remains stuck together for their bows and Kermit tries to keep things under control by ironically stating, "Okay, that just about does it for another regular, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary, everything-under-control Muppet Show."


This episode was far from ordinary and it knew it.  Up until this point, episodes were either a hodge-podge of moments or a small story involving the characters.  But now, the writer's started looking at the bigger picture.  It was as if Henson and his crew were turning a page, realizing that they not only should they avoid the limits set by others, they should avoid the limits set by themselves.  Many times, the crew conflicted with the artistic vision of the guest stars, many of whom had little imagination (which is a terrible thing to bring to The Muppet Show).  It took a brilliant comedienne to help raise the stakes, proving that there are always expectations to be subverted.  Creativity doesn't stop when the ideas run dry.  You just have to dig a little deeper.

Because at The Muppet Show, you never know what you'll get yourself into.  And that's where the fun begins.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Puppet Puppet Show

The Muppets have been with us for so long that, at times, we forget that we are watching solely puppets.  The puppetry may be simple or complicated but in the world of the Muppets, anything is possible.  We stop thinking about how they made Kermit ride a bike and we sink into the story in front of us, as if it were all animated.  Those who work in computer animation spend a lot of time making insignificant background details look realistic just so people ignore it.  If it looks incorrect, people will be more likely to notice.  The same is true of The Muppet Show.  Moments that draw attention to the production are what pull us out and remind us that we aren't watching actual characters.

Henson was obviously a fan of puppetry and he spent time studying and inventing several techniques to achieve the effects he wanted.  Through this research, he began to admire other acts that involved puppetry in some way.  Early in the series' run, there were two episodes featuring puppeteers as the main guest stars. The experimental Swiss theater group Mummenschanz showcased their incredible and unique talents during the first season.  And a second season episode featured Henson's idol, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.  Occasionally, Henson would recruit independent puppeteers to perform single segments on episodes where they were not the guest star, allowing different styles of puppetry to be shown.  In each of these cases, the inclusion of these fellow puppeteers was to show appreciation to their craft.

But one episode took it all a step further and expanded the theme of puppetry throughout the entire episode.  This was "Episode 508: Señor Wences."

The Inception of Muppet Show episodes. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

At the start of the show, Kermit tells us that this week, the Muppets will perform a puppet show "for the first time."  Many self-referential jokes occur, including Gonzo finding the concept of "wiggling dolls around" to be crazy, but this theme goes much deeper than self-parody.

The first act includes Pinocchio singing a rendition of "Puppetman" by Tom Jones, which takes the metaphorical "romantic" lyrics and sings them literally to Geppetto, who is played by Pops, another puppet.  If your head isn't swimming yet, wait until you see what comes next.

How could they tell if this Pinocchio became a "real" boy?

Señor Wences begins performing some of his well-known routines.  At the time this episode was filmed, Wences was 84, making him the oldest guest star to ever appear on the show.  For those unfamiliar with him, he was a Spanish ventriloquist who became very popular during the 1930s and he shot to stardom thanks to The Ed Sullivan Show in the '50s.

Young Wences and Johnny.

His usual characters involved Johnny, a little boy played by his hand with eyes and lipstick painted on attached to a doll's body (as seen in the picture above).  He also featured a dummy's head in a box named Pedro, whose gruff "S'alright?" "S'alright." catchphrase has been emulated by many.  The marvel of Wences performance is that his ventriloquism is flawless.  He can do the smoking/drinking while the puppet talks trick, he can simulate changes in acoustics, he can have phone conversations with himself, and he can have five characters carry on a fast-paced conversation at once without slipping up!  Throughout the show, he performs each of these stunts and each are hilarious and mesmerizing.

Inspired by Wences, the other Muppets start getting the puppeteering itch and start their own acts.  The Swedish Chef performs "These Boots Were Made for Walking" by assembling a puppet made out of bread dough and his fingers.

The only time something went right in his kitchen.

Beauregard practices his own routine involving "Punch and Judy"-like puppets, much to Kermit's amusement.  Although he has trouble understanding the mechanics of a puppet show (namely, not getting involved in the story), he eventually puts on a classic violent spectacle.  This is then mirrored by Miss Piggy taking out her aggression on Kermit for canceling her performance in the usual Piggy fashion.

Who puppets the puppetmen?

And, in a creepy twist, Fozzie tries his hand at puppeteering a marionette clown, who doesn't like to have his strings pulled by a foolish bear.  So he turns the tables on his captor.

Sweet dreams!

Finally, in addition to all of the meta-puppetry that is occurring in this episode, another guest Bruce Schwarz is on hand to perform a Japaense ghost story in the traditional bunraku style (where the puppeteer is masked by shadows).

This is a breathtaking episode that really pays homage to the many roots and styles of puppetry.  One of the goals of The Muppet Show was to introduce the audience to new art, and this episode is quite successful.  By taking the concept of controlling puppets to the next level, the show respects the past while making innovations for the future.

A puppet doesn't gain a soul until a puppeteer awakens it.  And, as seen tonight, an awakened puppet can breathe new life into another puppet.  There is no limit to the imagination.  Such is the power of the puppetmaster.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Can the Laughter

Before the A.V. Club started their weekly Muppet Show reviews, they focused on a singular episode that they felt best represented The Muppet Show as a series.  Since I don't like to repeat other people's reviews, I have strayed away from reviewing full episodes of the show, choosing to instead focus on smaller moments, characters or recurring themes.  But this week, I wanted to look at the five episodes that I consider to be the greatest the show had to offer.  While most episodes of The Muppet Show are a patchwork display of unrelated sketches, songs, and guest stars, these five episodes are unique and shouldn't be picked apart.  In these cases, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The first episode I wanted to feature was the A.V. Club's "Very Special Episode," "Episode 208: Steve Martin."  Noel Murray does a great job of explaining why this episode works, but as a representative of the whole series, I feel it is an odd choice.  For this episode lacks one thing found in every other episode in the entire run of the show: a laugh-track.

The laughs have to be earned this time, not spoon-fed.  (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

To simulate the feel of a vaudevillian stage-show, Henson felt it was necessary to have an audience's laughter punctuate every joke.  Even though the show obviously isn't filmed in front of a live audience, the home viewers are willing to suspend their disbelief, ignoring impossible visuals that couldn't happen live in order to replicate the idea that this is just like any other variety show on television.  To warrant the canned laughter, an audience filled with Muppets is often shown reacting to the antics on stage.

When a show uses canned laughter, many people dismiss it, saying that it assumes the viewers are morons who can't tell when something is funny unless they hear laughter.  Other's feel that it was once a necessary tool to help audiences get used to home entertainment, easing the transition away from live theater events and movies (where a large vocal audience was often found).  As time passed, television no longer needed canned laughter.  In fact, many brilliant television comedies are able to fit in more material when not having to pause for laughter.  But many comedies still use it because it has become familiar to us.  As seen with the Sex and Violence pilot, shows that we are used to with a laugh track sound weird when it is taken away.

For Steve Martin's episode, the writer's tried something new.  The premise of the episode is that Kermit is canceling tonight's show in order to audition new acts.  The familiar Muppet audience is forced to leave (meaning the episode starts with the laughter intact before it is taken away).  Even Statler and Waldorf stay quiet.  The usual cast sits out in the audience instead as a series of acts are performed.

And they are less than enthralled.

Four of these acts, however, are performed by Steve Martin.  It is during these moments that we hear a noise that is rarely heard on the show: genuine laughter.  Although the crowd has dwindled response is quieter, when the characters laugh, it is a natural response.  Martin performs select bits from his stand-up routine and Henson and his crew are having a great time.  Even when you see a stand-up perform a live special, there is a huge crowd supplying the laughter.  But here, it feels more like an intimate private comedy club that we are allowed to sit in on.

Steve Martin knows how to please a crowd.

Fozzie in particular is having the time of his life.  Throughout the episode, he is worried that Kermit is trying to replace him with another comedy act.  But this fear mysteriously disappears when Martin does his schtick.  When Martin banters with the audience, Fozzie is usually the only one to respond.  He reacts with such glee that it's not hard to imagine that it is actually Frank Oz who is enjoying the performance, instead of the bear.

The rest of the episode is filled with references to the old vaudevillian days, including the "stage hook" that is used to cart off poor performers.  The other recurring bit in the episode involves a young girl named Mary Louise who has a singing act with a frog (who can only ribbit).  Miss Piggy, however, doesn't need any competition, so she constantly yanks the frightened performer away.

It's been done before.

Also, Statler and Waldorf, who disappeared since the beginning of the episode, take the stage with a vaudeville routine "The Varsity Drag."

And they are heckled right off the stage.

And finally, there are a series of novelty acts, including my favorite "Yes, We Have No Bananas" as well as the show-stopping Flying Zucchini Brothers!  Their malfunctioning human cannonball act literally stops the show.

Silly accents and a silly stunt.  Lew Zealand would be proud.

All of this leads to a closing number in which Martin displays his banjo skills by performing "Dueling Banjos" with one of the Muppet Show's many jug bands Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers.

All of these acts, when shown together, remind us that the point of the show is to showcase talent and comedy.  We don't need false laughter to provoke us into enjoying what we see.  The art should stand on its own.  And this episode certainly stands apart as a wonderfully crafted collaboration of Muppet humor and a guest star's talents so that neither one outshines the other.  While Martin usually based his comedy around over-the-top fakery, it was best to have his Muppet Show appearance grounded in genuineness.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Muppet Movie, Part 5: Write Your Own Ending

The crew pulls over in a nearby ghost town to face off against Doc Hopper.  There is a very quick introduction of Bunsen and Beaker, who are conveniently stationed here to perform experiments involving "Insta-Grow Pills."  I pretty sure there is no blatant foreshadowing occurring during this scene at all.  I'm sure the screenwriter Jerry Juhl just forgot about the duo until the last minute and had to squeeze them in and they are not going to proof to be some deus ex machina in any way.

Hopper shows up with his armed men, giving Kermit one last chance to join the Dark Side.  Kermit stands up to him with an award-winning speech, saying how he is just a lowly frog trying to follow is dream to make people happy.  And he's amassed quite a large number of like-minded individuals who have become like family to him.  If he had joined Hopper initially, it would only have made himself miserable.  But now the needs of the many are what he is fighting for, and he cannot deprive the world of joy.

Kermit and friends, standing up for what's right.

He implores Hopper to search within himself and do the right thing.  Hopper decides that Kermit is right, and it's time to kill the frog.  But, if you'll notice from the previous picture, one member of the group is missing.  Could it be...?

Welp, looks like those Insta-Grow Pills weren't just a meaningless prop.

Much how Animal overshadows the rest of his bandmates in terms of popularity, he grows to be a giant and saves the day with his impulsive tendencies.  Sure, Kermit's speech was heart-warming and everything, but it wouldn't be the Muppets without a big explosion to cap everything off.

And so, our heroes finally make their way to Hollywood with their conflicts far behind them!

They made it!

After receiving some trouble from the secretary at the production studios, the gang finally makes their way in to see the intimidating movie mogul, Lew Lord.

They have come so far...

Unlike all of the other celebrity cameos in the film (save for Edgar Bergen), this appearance is highly significant in a number of ways.  First, the character of Lew Lord is based on British film and television producer Lord Lew Grade, who was the only person in show-biz willing to give The Muppet Show a chance.  Without him, none of what we know about the Muppet franchise would be as it is today.  No show, no movies, no Muppet Babies.  Grade was the best thing to come into Henson's life and he made sure everybody knew it.

So, such an impressive person is entitled to be played by an impressive actor.  And the man Henson got for the job was none other than Orson Welles.

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Welles is obviously known for directing and starring in Citizen Kane, which, like The Muppet Movie chronicles the events of one man's desire to become rich, famous, and powerful.  Welles put a lot of himself into the character of Kane, much as Henson has put into Kermit.  The mirrored paths their lives took indicated a special bond between Welles and Henson.  Although he was known for his serious demeanor, Welles loved Sesame Street and the Muppets.  He saw the greatness that Henson created and was proud to consider him a friend.  He was such a big Muppet fan that he knew each character by name and spotted inconsistencies in the refurbished costumes the puppets wore specifically for the movie.

Of course, his character was going to allow the Muppets to sign the Standard "Rich and Famous" Contract that all celebrities sign.

This contract later became an important plot point in the 2011 film The Muppets.

Suddenly, Kermit finds himself at the top, bursting with joy that all of his dreams are coming true with the song "The Magic Store."

Look at me now!

The team assembles their version of The Muppet Movie culminating in a scene representative of the whole journey they took together.  Set pieces representing the various iconic scenes from the movie flash by as the whole group sings a reprise of "The Rainbow Connection."  They update the lyrics to remind us that they are no longer only dreamers.  They are achievers.

The Muppet Movie in one frame.

But, it wouldn't be the Muppets without an explosion that destroys everything.


Don't worry!  Just when you think everything is ruined, something magical comes through the massive hole they made in the studio space.



Yes, it is the Rainbow Connection itself.  The colors bathe every Muppet (and I mean every Muppet) as they finish the song, showing that while the movie may be fake, the message is not.  It is uplifting and magical.  Our lives are what we make of them and this group made some pretty good lives.

Yes, every single Muppet came together for the finale.

Alright, so, final impressions?

I agree with the tagline.

The Muppet Movie is about as perfect as a Muppet movie can get.  So let me get my minor squabbles with the film out of the way first.

Doc Hopper is a forgettable villain.

Charles Durning does just fine with the part, but he never poses much of a threat and is outshone by the numerous celebrity cameos that populate the film.  What makes the human actors memorable is that their characters are over the top.  Mel Brooks and Steve Martin in particular dominate their scenes.  If Hopper had been a little more Col. Sanders-esque, he would served the same purpose and would have hit that sweet spot between threatening and hilarious.  As he stands, he's just dull.

Scooter gets a raw deal.

I already mentioned how I didn't like him being lumped in with the Electric Mayhem, but to me, the real reason Scooter should have been dealt with separately was so that he could have his own musical number.  Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Piggy, Rowlf, and the Electric Mayhem each get their own song.  Scooter deserves one as well.  I'm not sure how it would have fit in, but since I view him as one of the core members of the group, it would have been nice to give him some more development to his backstory.  He could easily have been an intern at World Wide Studios.

Bunsen and Beaker's role is very random.

The flow of the movie, for the most part, makes sense.  But sticking these two in right before the climax feels like a hiccup.  Look at it from a storytelling point of view: Kermit refuses Hopper's offer, Hopper chases Kermit across the country, Hopper threatens to kill Kermit, Kermit tells Hopper he'll face him one on one, Bunsen and Beaker make Insta-Gro Pills, Kermit has a showdown with Hopper.  Now, Animal growing is humorous, but the same effect could have been earned had Bunsen and Beaker been introduced earlier in the movie at some point.  Maybe they were at the Bogen County Fair trying to sell their pills to farmers to make their vegetables grow larger and Fozzie or someone pockets a sample.  In fact, that would have been a lot more fluid and the pay off would have been more surprising.

Including Waldorf and Statler would have been funny.

This one I'll let slide since the film is just fine without their constant heckling, but I would like to see a version released with their scenes restored.  Because we missed out on stuff like this:

Riding on a Muppet camel?  Totally worth including!

Those are really my only issues with the movie, because everything else is just flawless.  There is a different kind of energy to movies that were made in the 1970s.  Everything is calmer and more whimsical.  There is less of a "Hey, look at what we can do!" feel to it.  Modern movies are very stylized and predictable.  While The Muppets was a great story, the film felt like a streamlined product manufactured to be enjoyable.  The Muppet Movie just feels natural.

Perhaps it was because a lot of it was shot on location and the puppets didn't class with the outdoor environment.  We see the beauty of the American landscape in nearly every scene.  In The Muppets, there are many driving scenes, but in The Muppet Movie I feel like we are watching an actual road trip.

And the comedy has a lot of subtle nuances to it that you rarely see in blockbuster movies.  A lot of the best lines are softly spoken, so even though I had seen this film multiple times as a child, I noticed 50% more jokes this time around.  Miniscule movements in the characters' expressions sell the idea that they are real people.

And most of all, this is a movie that is just happy to be a movie.  While a lot of the shooting may have been difficult, the final product comes off as a work of art that a whole team worked together to build and make great.  There isn't any sign of commercialism or cheap effects.  Blood and sweat and love went into the making of this movie.

Why The Muppet Movie is considered to be the best Muppet movie:

That's a whole lotta love.

Everyone has their favorite Muppet movie.  While I'm not yet ready to reveal my personal favorite, I'll admit that this one is tightly written and enjoyable no matter your age.  If this one is your favorite, I won't argue against it.  If you don't like this movie at all, then I feel truly sorry for you.  But I have yet to meet a person who dislikes this movie.  Some dismiss it as a children's flick, but there is so much more to it than that. This movie promotes optimism and an a lust for life.  It translates the journey of one very real dreamer into a tale that everyone can identify with.  It is not a kids movie.  That's just a myth!  


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Muppet Movie, Part 4: Second Thoughts

Doc Hopper and his cronies have kidnapped Kermit in order for the mad German scientist Prof. Krassman (Mel Brooks) to perform an "electronic cerebrectomy" on the frog, rendering his brain useless and malleable.

And for a bit part, Brooks really milks every single line he's given.

Like Henson, who often felt he had to conform to the relentless producers during his early years in showbiz, Kermit is about to be brainwashed into performing mindless drivel that doesn't support his values or goals.

Although, it would have been really easy for Kermit to slip out of his restraints.

Piggy, who has been fawning over Kermit the whole time, praising him to be a courageous hero, actually has to step in and save the day as she goes into a violent rage, pummeling every thug in sight.  In true Piggy fashion, it is not Kermit's endangerment that provokes her temper, but an insult about being a pig from Prof. Krassman.  Have you ever noticed how Piggy hates being referred to as a pig, even if there is no malice behind the reference?  She has some serious self-image issues.  But now is not the time to get into Piggy's psyche.

But it is time for the film to break apart, allowing all the Muppets at the screening to provide their two cents while the Swedish Chef fixes things.  I believe this moment was to help skip to the next part of the story in a not so subtle transition, because when we leave our heroes, Piggy has just decided to ditch Kermit by accepting a commercial offer from her agent and when we return, she reappears with little explanation for her behavior.  It seemed kind of pointless and perhaps the film break was to distract us from this moment.

Technical difficulties.

Anyway, we come back to majestic shots of the American landscape as Fozzie sings "America, the Beautiful" as if to remind us that we are watching the American Dream unfold before our very eyes.

Wait, they are in South Dakota now?  Weren't they just in Idaho?  And they're only a day's drive from Hollywood?

Meanwhile, Doc Hopper has decided to step up his game and has resorted to hiring the frog assassin Snake Walker to hunt down and kill Kermit if Kermit doesn't comply.  At this point, I feel Hopper should just let this go.  But we've got to raise the stakes for the end of the movie somehow.

And a pitchfork gun is the way to do it.

As I said before, Piggy rejoins the group after her brief absence with no explanation as to what happened and just acts like everything is normal.  How mysterious.  The best part to come from this random moment is Rowlf's half-hearted attempt to introduce himself to her, even though he knows she's not listening.

Women don't make any sense.

Without warning, the car stops working, leaving the gang stranded in the middle of nowhere.  The team sets up camp for the night, counting their woes, realizing that they won't make it in time for the auditions tomorrow.  Gonzo, however, remains optimistic, as he marvels at the stars above, with his signature song, "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday."

Kermit leaves the camp to have an existential conversation with himself, wondering whether he just made things worse for everyone by dragging them on this journey.  He keeps trying to reject his role in their failure by stating, "I didn't promise anybody anything."  This notion is true of all artists.  They dream big and when they succeed, everybody loves them for it.  But if they fail, then they just become another part of the nameless masses.  Nobody gets hurt because of it.  There is no shortage of art.  The world doesn't realize what it is missing out on.  Like dust specks falling, a dreamer who stop dreaming is heard by no one.

Except, there is a victim.  It is the dreamer themselves.  They are the one with value.  They are the one who is hurt by the failed promises.  By having Kermit physically exist as two entities, we can see that this dichotomy exists in one single artist.  They aren't just the dreamer, they are the audience and the customer.  Ultimately, the art they create is for themselves.  Henson made a lot of people happy, but he always made sure that his work was something that he would enjoy watching.

A deep conversation from the puppet that used to dress in wigs and lip-sync to showtunes.

The way the two Kermits are positioned makes it feel as if we are watching an old-time puppet show and Henson is just below the screen with both of his arms raised.  This is pure.

The pep-talk rouses Kermit's spirits as he heads back to the campsite, only to discover that the Electric Mayhem has found them (courtesy of the movie screenplay) and they shall give them a lift to Hollywood!  As they make their way towards victory, a police officer pulls them over and reveals himself to be good ol' Max.

Max's Big Heroic Scene

Max tells them about the frog assassin, warning them of an ambush.  If they continue forward, Kermit will surely croak!

OH NO!!!

But Kermit says that enough is enough.  He is going to quit running and stand up to Hopper once and for all.  Because the movie is nearly over so we need to have a big climactic showdown worthy of a classic western.

Tomorrow: Hopper and Kermit square off and the gang finally arrives at the Magic Store.