As you may have heard, Tough Pigs has been around for ten years. A lot of new Muppet stuff has come out during that decade — DVDs, TV specials, CD sets, books, and even something called “giclees,” unless that was just a weird dream. And during that decade, the contributors to this website have dedicated themselves to providing readers with honest, critical evaluations of all of it. Which makes for a whole lot of reviews.
Now let’s play a little game. Below, you’ll find twenty quotes excerpted from various reviews spanning Tough Pigs’ ten-year history, and a “word bank” containing the titles of twenty Muppety projects that we’ve reviewed. Can you match each quote to the review it came from? Every project corresponds to just one quote and vice versa; there should be no leftovers when you’re finished. If it helps, maybe you’ll want to print out a copy of the whole thing so you can cross things off the list as you go. Then print out another copy and give it to your grandma.
At first glance, it may seem like there are more negative quotes here than positive ones. That’s not because we like being mean, it’s just because negative reviews, for whatever reason, tend to be more memorable and amusing than positive reviews. Also, it’s because we like being mean.
1. “A new Muppet production like this just fills Muppet fans up with energy. It makes us bounce around and hum. It makes us want to go and trade quotes back and forth, and argue about which cameos were good and which were bad. We make lists. We count characters. We generally get down and dirty with our Muppet-fan selves, and just enjoy.”
2. “Like all good Christmas stories, it weaves together themes of commercialism, charity, and sacrifice. But unlike so many stories written for today’s children, its protagonists are passionate and reckless, sympathetic but tart. Its lessons are far from simple; the villains, after all, walk away with first prize.”
3. “Who is the audience for these books? Joke book enthusiasts? Desperate self-help seekers? Or are we, the die-hard Muppet fans, this book’s core audience, and I just told you not to bother buying it?”
4. “I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Sesame Street, puppets, television, monsters, America, bathrobes, spare keys, rectangles, gum, or none of the above. It’s a keeper… I give this book 5 Mr. Noodles out of 5. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got many questions to ask to a baby.”
5. “In this one, they will find that the author’s rock-solid plotting has been replaced by tired office humor. Like the first two installments, this one is full of gags that exist only to say, ‘Look how out-of-place this is in a Victorian setting!’”
6. “Apparently the target audience for this movie is morons. I don’t have a problem with that, actually. So it’s a movie for morons. At least it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. Morons need movies too.”
7. “…a fun trip through the smooth Sesame sounds of the 70s, and I really hope they keep releasing these things. But maybe next time around they should try spelling Caroll Spinney’s name right in the credits. It’s been spelled wrong on both volumes.”
8. “Luckily, Big Bird is in it, which helps, but it’s just Big Bird running around saying, Can you eat this? And little snotty farm kids saying, of course you can, it’s corn! And Big Bird says, Can you eat this? And the snotty farm kids say, Sure you can, it’s a carrot! And Big Bird says, Do we eat this? And I say, why the hell is this video all of a sudden about a FARM?”
9. “Although you may look different, enjoy unusual talents and pastimes, and eat a diet that should almost certainly include your siblings, [title of production] promises that you and your natural enemies can live together in harmony.”
10. “And consider the fact that by the halfway point of the book, Sesame camera operator Frank Biondo has already been mentioned, like, eight times. That’s right — cameraman Frank Biondo is a major character in the book, and that is awesome.”
11. “It’s not pretty enough to be a piece of art, it’s not funny enough to be a great kids book, and it’s not clever enough to be a critically revered graphic novel. But more than anything, I’m left wondering what The Jim Henson Company ever saw in it.”
12. “’Bullfrog belly breath!’ they say, and then they show me a picture of a bullfrog breathing. Then they cut to a kid moving her arms out and then towards her stomach. ‘Breathe in deep! Now let it go!’ That’s with a shot of a lion stretching on all fours. ‘Cow monkey neck roll! Roll, roll!’ That’s with a shot of a monkey doing a somersault. Then they show the kids rolling their heads around on their shoulders. This is all impossibly confusing.”
13. “Over the course of these episodes, she sticks her face in pancake batter, gets pelted with spaghetti, and is splattered with pies. I look forward to seeing how the Muppets attack their co-star with food in future episodes.”
14. “If you’re thinking, ack, phooey, talking to stars, how corny, then this movie is not for you. Put down the DVD and back away. But if it flickers across your brain, even for an instant, that that sounds kind of sweet, like maybe the movie has Heart, in a sort of ‘I did promise somebody, I promised me’ kind of way, then you’ve got the green light.”
15. “Who else but a Muppet geek would even think to cast Spamela Hamderson, the Muppets Tonight airhead who possesses the most prodigious knockers in Muppet history, as a classic fairy tale princess?”
16. “The Muppets sounded and acted like Muppets. There was comedy and heart. And there were times when it really felt like it could have been from the era of the original Muppet movies.”
17. “Deep down, this is what fans want the show to be all the time — everybody we love is there, all together. It also happens to be a perfect expression of what Sesame Street is doing well these days. Just having Grover front and center feels wonderful.”
18. “The characters are cute, yet instantly recognizable, and they’re all-around fun, which is exactly how a Fraggle Rock comic book should feel. In just six pages, we get a glimpse at what makes both Gorgs and Fraggles happy, as well as the insecurities of most of the characters involved. If that doesn’t scream Fraggle Rock, I don’t know what does.”
19. “I started to suspect that things were going downhill when I could actually understand something the Swedish Chef said. And the situation only got worse. Have you noticed that I’ve not mentioned the Muppets much? That’s because [title of production] didn’t either. Zac Efron got more play, and he wasn’t even there.”
20. “This is really the first Sesame app to make extensive use of both the touch screen and the accelerometer, which is nice because my #1 and #2 hobbies happen to be touching things and shaking things.”
Okay… Have you matched them all? Click here for the answers and see if you’re right!
And then click here to be passionate and reckless, sympathetic and tart, on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com