This weekend The Muppets go head to head with Hugo; when I tweeted that people should see Hugo in theaters over The Muppets because the 3D is such an incredible experience, many folks responded that they wanted to support The Muppets so they could get more movies. Besides the fact that I think seeing a movie so you can get sequels is a kind of sickness, I don't think The Muppets really needs a sequel.
Hear me out. There has only been, for my money, one truly great Muppet film, and that's The Muppet Movie. The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan are good enough, and The Muppets is really nice. But none of these films touch the hem of The Muppet Movie's pants. The Muppets make for good movies, but not usually great ones.
What they do make for is great television. The Muppet Show was often extraordinary, and the best part of The Muppets is the third act, which is essentially a big screen version of The Muppet Show. The mix of skits, vaudeville routines, flabbergasted guest stars and behind the scenes chaos is what has always defined the Muppets to me.
A movie demands an overarching plot, while a TV show allows for sheer, delightful anarchy. And delightful anarchy is what the Muppets do best, just throwing ideas and gags and songs and bits out there, without worrying about things like plot or even, at the best of times, sense. Most episodes of The Muppet Show had ten times the energy as The Muppets, in half the time.
But more than that, the Muppets belong in our homes. The Muppets actually gets that, having a scene early in the film where Walter dreams about the characters coming out of his TV and fucking around in his living room; there's an inclusiveness and warmth to the Muppets that embodies the best of TV. What's more, these characters are child-sized, always dwarfed by their guests - except on the screen, where they're 30 feet tall. As a kid I always loved that the Muppets were smaller than me.
Imagine a new era The Muppet Show, with a mix of guests cool and corny, just like the original show. Imagine sly genius bits like Camilla and the chickens doing a clucking version of Cee Lo Green's Fuck You every single week. Imagine Pigs In Space taking on all the modern scifi stuff. Imagine the Muppets playfully fucking with a guest like Lea Michele or letting Christian Bale finally clown around or Stephen Colbert guest hosting in character. Every week. With the best bits traveling virally the day after the show.
When I was a kid the Muppets weren't something I waited to see every couple of years on the big screen; I watched their show every single week. And walking out of The Muppets I didn't want to wait two years to see a belabored, plot heavy, Jason Segel as the new Zeppo adventure. I wanted to switch on the TV and watch those characters tear the shit out of the Muppet theater for a blissful hour.