Friday, October 26, 2012

Out of the Nursery, Into the Night

The Muppets have always relied on fairy tales and nursery rhymes as a starting off point for entertainment.  This was probably to play off the notion that puppets were kids' stuff and were often used to portray characters from children's stories.  Each foray into the realm of fairy tales provided new twists and experiences.  Tinkerdee, The Storyteller, and Muppet Classic Theater invited parodies, satires, and darkly, artistic adaptations.  But these were just the appetizers for "Fairyland PD."

Scene from "The Emperor's Lewd Clothes"

In a parody of crime procedurals like Law and Order, detectives Clifford and Bobo would investigate the seedier side of Fairyland.  After dark, anything could happen.

Goldilocks has a standoff with the cops in a breaking and entering situation!  The Emperor gets arrested for public indecency!  Humpty Dumpty needs to be talked down from the ledge in his suicide attempt!  These are a far cry from the Sesame Street News Flashes of yore.

These sketches take the fairy tales to their logical extreme, revealing the uncomfortable undertones of the original rhymes.  But of course, they are still Muppets and tomfoolery is to be had.  In "Curds Away," Little Miss Muffet has been being harassed by a lecherous spider and Bobo must perform an undercover sting operation in order to catch the spider in the act.

Much curds and whey are spilt!

It's a little strange that Clifford and Bobo are the detectives.  Rather than take two pre-existing fairy tale characters, the Muppets are brought in.  Perhaps it is to play with their dynamic, but they are both playing different roles than they normally do.  Clifford isn't relaxed or stressed out.  Bobo isn't as dimwitted as he usually is.  They both play the roles straight (with some added wit and candor).  Does this mean that Muppets are actually part of the fairy tale universe?  Doesn't that just contradict the attempts to distance the Muppets from being children's fare?

I mean, they made a new cop character, after all.

Whatever the case may be, this is definitely one of the Muppets' more mature recurring sketches.  Perhaps American audiences weren't ready to see their beloved Muppets mixed up with sex and violence.  But we all must grow up and face the realities.  Life isn't a fairy tale.  And neither are the fairy tales.

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