Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Demko's DVD shelf: Why I love the Muppets so much

In one of my many moments of daily distraction yesterday, I stopped to think of just why I miss the Muppets so much. Was the show ever really that good, or am I simply letting nostalgia cloud my vision?

Well, this week on DVD comes the evidence that it's most likely the former. With season two of "The Muppet Show," you get guest stars including Judy Collins, Don Knotts, Bernadette Peters, George Burns, John Cleese and Bob Hope. And, of course, all your favorite Muppets, from Kermit the Frog on down to the Swedish Chef.

But just what made the Muppets so great, beyond the fact that it came on TV when I was 6 years old and, therefore, rather susceptible to a TV show with awesome puppets? Looking at what passes for "quality" TV nowadays (with a few exceptions that I still tune in for every week), I think I have the answer.

When's the last time there was a genuine variety show on primetime television? The closest thing I can think of (and yes, I understand it's not often on during primetime) is "Saturday Night Live," which hasn't been as funny as "The Muppet Show" since the late 70s. Dave Chappelle, by including great rap acts to close out every show and, of course, offering the funniest skit television in many years, came awfully close too before he cracked up (absolutely no pun intended.)

But the Muppets, in their own way, were every bit as funny as Dave Chappelle, albeit in a much more family-friendly way. Season 2 offers proof in the form of 24 episodes with great skits like "Pigs in Space" and "Veterinarian's Hospital" (there's no way you can't laugh at Rolf operating on his fellow animals.)

And the Muppets weren't just funny. The music, by Muppets and humans alike, was almost always fantastic too. In season two, you get Kermit crooning "It's not Easy Being Green" and Judy Collins' "Send in the Clowns," among many others.

If you don't like the Muppets, well, I guess I can understand that, but, well, I just kind of feel sorry for you.

Other picks this week:

The Simpsons: Season 10: Watching these again on DVD, I've yet to find the point where the shows stopped being fall-down funny. It had to happen sometime in the last five years or so, but until I find the turning point, I'll keep being a sucker for the DVDs.

Bubba Ho-Tep: I can't see any reason to put out yet another version of this on DVD except that we're soon to come upon the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death. Pretty shameless timing, but a great movie nonetheless. A nursing home with Bruce Campbell as Elvis and the late, great Ossie Davis as JFK as residents? It's even better than it sounds here, and almost as touching as it is funny. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now.

Crime Story: Instead of shelling out your hard-earned cash for yet another "Rush Hour" crapfest, why not rent a great Jackie Chan Hong Kong movie. In this one supposedly based on a true story, Jackie's a special agent (shocker!) assigned to protect a wealthy business magnate who gets kidnapped in a daring ambush. Jackie being Jackie, he kicks many butts to get him back, and its just fun to watch.

The most inappropriate Youtube clip ever?

Well, probably not, but I've yet to see one that made me laugh this hard, and it's been at least a week since I pimped for "Superbad," so here goes.

Be warned before you even think of clicking on this one at work: It features, many, many times, Jonah Hill's character drawing pictures of, well, the male unit. If that bothers you, please don't watch this, and I can't stress enough, please don't do so around any of your co-workers. I don't want to get anyone fired here.

If you do watch it, however, be prepared to laugh out loud. I can't tell you anymore except that it contains the words "Ghostbusters lunch box dick treasure chest" in that order. Enjoy!

And, if I didn't lose you with that perfectly crude bit of entertainment, why not another plug for the current best way to waste time on the Internet,
Clarkandmichael.com. Click on it for a very funny series of webisodes featuring George Michael Bluth Cera and bud Clark Duncan trying to pitch a TV series. It's just extremely funny stuff.

And, brace yourself, because it's about to get completely shameless around here. I have no idea if the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" will be any good or not, and we'll have to wait until December or so to find out, but for now we get this poster featuring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson in rather alluring attire (and, if your eyes can find him in the middle, that is indeed Eric Bana.) Hope this makes your Tuesday just a little more bearable. Peace out.


Lorraine said...

I puffy heart the Muppets. Genius.

And "The Other Boleyn Girl" was a pretty good book...with that cast it's at least got a shot. Plus, who doesn't love a good costume drama?

Reel Fanatic said...

I know I certainly do, Lorraine ... I wish there were more Merchant-Ivory pics, but with Ishmael Merchant dead that's obviously impossible

Eric said...

What happend to your Bourne review?
I read it and was supprised that you hit on the same complaints as in this Myspace thread.

Mercurie said...

It is odd that there hasn't been a real variety show on TV since The Muppets. There was a time when it was the most popular format on TV. At any rate, they certainly has something going. I mean, just look at the guests they had on through the years: Gene Kelly, Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, Alice Cooper... I think only Ed Sullivan could boast such a diverse roster of guest stars and the only other variety show that could get some really big names!

Reel Fanatic said...

I didn't bother to write a full review of Bourne, Eric, but that Myspace dude did indeed have many of the same complaints as me ... Instead I wrote about Hot Rod which, though clearly inferior to Bourne on just about every measurable level, I just had tons of fun watching

Eric said...

Riiiight. I just remembered reading it but lost the context.

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