For the past several years I’ve used Black Friday to hunt for deals at the mall and score big-ticket items on the cheap. This year, my husband and I decided to forgo the usual capitalist glut to take our daughter to see “The Muppets,” a film that perfectly captures the creatures with whom I was obsessed for a good part of my childhood.
Maybe it’s selfish, but we wanted her first film in the theater to be “The Muppets,” which stars characters that were meaningful to us when we were kids.
I admit, however, I was a little skeptical. While I like actor Jason Segel in “How I Met Your Mother,” I really couldn’t see how the star of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” would translate into a children’s film.
Boy, was I wrong – thank Kermit.
When we arrived at Grossmont Center theaters, I was worried about our almost-3-year-old disrupting others’ enjoyable matinee. She doesn’t like loud noises nor does she enjoy the dark with a bunch of strangers sitting around her.
Turns out I didn’t need to worry. As soon as the “Toy Story” cartoon short began playing, she calmed down and watched raptly as Buzz Lightyear lit up the screen. “Wow,” she said softly.
I knew that “wow.” I felt that “wow” many years ago when I first sat in a theater. It’s a pretty great feeling.
It’s been a while since I felt that “wow.” In our cynical age, it’s easy to become jaded with all things fantastical.
Movies are based on true stories, TV shows are loosely grounded in reality and our movie stars have lost their sheen. And if Hollywood can’t realistically reproduce something, well, there’s always CGI.
But “The Muppets” reminded me of how much we – you, me, our children and their kids – need that return to innocence. We need to bring back the “wow.”
When I was a child, my family and I looked forward every week to “The Muppet Show.” While I was partial to Kermit the Frog, I really liked Gonzo. He made me laugh at his strange antics. I even dug the way he was hopelessly devoted to Camilla the Chicken, who happens to have one of the funniest songs in the new movie.
While I was really excited to see my Muppet pals, my parents were equally pleased to see the performances and celebrity guest host. It was a show all of us were happy to see week after week.
And then it stopped. I don’t remember what happened, but as Kermit expressed in the film, I grew up and left the Muppets among childhood memories.
Somewhere along the way we all kind of ditched the good parts of our childhood. TV executives seemed to pick up on the shift and began airing programs that featured families who sassed each other regularly, putting each other down for laughs. I’m not gonna lie – I loved “Married with Children,” “Roseanne” and still enjoy “The Simpsons.” As a parent, however, I’d rather have my daughter singing along with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem than repeating the latest catchphrase from “Family Guy” or, worse, emulating a Kardashian. Any Kardashian.
This particular realization hit me hard during the new Muppets movie. As Walter, a new muppet who idolizes Kermit and the gang, walked through Kermit’s old office, full of photos of old celebrity guest hosts, I felt sad that I had so readily abandoned that “wow” feeling. And when Kermit and Miss Piggy sang “The Rainbow Connection,” my best friend Becca and I sobbed quietly in our seats, remembering when we first saw the famous frog singing in a pond with a banjo.
I understand that it’s hard to close the lid on the Pandora’s box that is network TV today, but I firmly believe we need to bring back more programming like “The Muppet Show.” I’m not alone – there’s a Facebook page entitled Bring Back the Muppet Show.
I want to be able to look forward to a weekly TV show with my daughter. Something past Nick Jr. and “Yo Gabba Gabba!” I think it’s OK for us to unwind the clock just a little to let some innocence in.
So here’s my plea, prime time TV: Please, please, please, bring back “The Muppet Show.” I don’t care about vampires, serial killers, teen soap operas and wisecracking families. Give us back the Muppets and a weekly guest host so we can once more find that magical Rainbow Connection.