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Gordon Pepper

I remember "The Muppet Show" when I was a kid. I sat down there, transfixed to the television set, watching Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter, the Swedish Chef, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker and the rest of the gang attempt to put on a musical performance once a week (and once a day in repeats). My favorite Muppet? Animal. (Animal! Animal! RWAAAAAAAA).

I have seen all three Muppet trilogy movies (The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan) in the theater. I have caught their versions of Treasure Island, a Christmas Carol and The Wizard of Oz. I even caught Muppets in Space. I saw the Muppet tribute to Jim Henson. Heck, I've even seen Kermit and Miss Piggy battle it out on Hollywood Squares.

So it comes as no surprise that I am intrigued by the potential of "America's Next Top Muppet". What surprises me, however, is the buzz around it - and yes, there's plenty of buzz around it. People love their old time shows - and they love their Muppets.

The buzz seems to come in 2 flavors. The first type is that they want to see the Muppets - and they would love to see a revival. In the game show world, there have been many successful revivals of classic shows. The new version of Jeopardy! is enjoying it's 20-plus seasons on the air, while Family Feud, though not at 10 years just yet, is getting closer to that mark. The 'New' Price is Right is arguably the most successful revival of a show as it is approaching it's 35th year on television.

Yet for all of those people who want to see the Muppets on the air, there is an equal number of people who don't want to see the Muppets legacy tarnished. These people think that when Jim Henson passed from our world, he took the soul of the Muppets with them. In addition, there have been game shows based on old shows that have not done very well and have even taken the show that it was based on down a few notches. The Next Partridge Family, anyone? What about Fame? Gilligan's Island, anyone? Even non-game shows (AfterM*A*S*H, Golden Palace, Three's a Crowd, and the soon to be canned Joey) that are trying to extend the life of a classic have been known to fall on it's face.

So what's my opinion? I think that any fear of the Muppets being a shell of their former selves is tempered by the sheer desire to see the Muppets in new episodes. Granted, there have been two revivals attempted of the Muppets that have failed, but I am always willing to see them try again - as long as they keep it in the spirit of the Muppets and to not curtail it too much on the present day. There has been enough shows on both the reality and the satirical circuit to show the Muppets what things will work and what things won't work.

Ok Muppets - you get the green light from me to try to get things started with the most sensational inspirational celebrational Muppetational new Muppet Show. Just don't make me sound like either Statler or Waldorf by the end of it.

Gordon Pepper is part-Muppet. E-mail him at


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