We’re not sure when Sesame Street began putting so much care into expertly parodying very adult television shows to teach kids the importance of directions, counting to 30 and more, but it’s pretty entertaining and usually pretty on-point. Today, the team from the ‘Street returned to their PBS roots, in the tradition of Monsterpiece Theater with Alistair Cookie, with a spoof of everyone’s favorite Edwardian melodrama, Downton Abbey.
From the opening title music to the interior shots of the stately manor, as with each of these spoofs, "Upside Downton Abbey" goes for accuracy. The Muppets introducing the concepts of upside-down and right-side-up strongly resemble the butler, Mr. Carson, and the Dowager Countess, and whoever was in charge of that Muppet definitely studied Maggie Smith’s inflection. All I know is, if they keep this up, we can’t wait for the Sesame Street take on Breaking Bad. It would be a great way to teach kids about measuring and following recipes!
Neil Patrick Harris is no stranger to working with Muppets (and Muppet enthusiasts like his How I Met Your Mother co-star Jason Segel). He’s cited Jim Henson as an influence and appeared on Sesame Street a number of times, including recurring appearances as the "Fairy Shoeperson" and singing about pajamas and carrots with Elmo. But his latest Muppet-related enterprise is a far more adult affair, one that might even be inadvertent nightmare fuel for the little ones.
Harris collaborated with Nerdist and Henson Alternative, the less family-friendly wing of the Jim Henson puppetry enterprise on Neil’s Puppet Dreams, a web series launched yesterday starring Harris, his subconscious mind, his partner David Burtka and a host of particularly weird Creature Shop creations. In the first installment, Harris falls asleep on the floor of his twins’ bedroom, waking up in a Science of Sleep-esque puppet world in which he is falling, and fast, which as anyone who has ever slept before knows, is a terrifying feeling that sometimes happens in various stages of sleep. He receives words of comfort, however, from a trio of singing angels, played by his twins’ vivified puppets, among them, a goat and a winged beaver. Their gentle lullaby quickly turns from comfort to carnage though, with couplets like: "Your limbs will snap off and your organs will burst / you’ll look like an art piece like Damien Hirst." Sesame this ain’t. Watch.
Two weeks ago, Big Bad Old Man Mitt Romney put Bird Bird and the rest of the cast of Sesame Street in his crosshairs. Now, two dudes in the entertainment biz have responded by with a Million Muppet March in Washington, D.C. on November 3.
Chris Mecham and Michael Bellavia plan to protest on behalf of saving funding for public broadcasting and "keeping full employment for all Muppets" — which will surely be music to the ears of prolific tweeter @FireMeElmo. The march is planned on the National Mall from 9a.m. to noon and attendees are encouraged to bring Muppet paraphrenalia. More deets can be found on the protest’s Facebook page. (Wow, what do you think Abbie Hoffman would say about that sentene?)
Sounds like a good time. Maybe anti-Semitic Elmo will take the Fung Wah down? (Then again, maybe not.)
Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.
● As per his first dispatch from the "Green Monster," Ja Rule’s first night in prison was quite the trip. [Vibe]
● Several racy photos of Olympic snowboarder Shaun White have surfaced on the Internet, mostly begging questions as to who’s looking. [NYDN]
● According to Avey Tare, Animal Collective have started work on their follow up to Merriweather Post Pavilion, and are set to start recording this January. [Pitchfork]
● Brett Easton Ellis tells victims of bullying to "man-up" because, as he sees it, bullying teaches you that you won’t always get the "gold star." "Deal with it," he says. [Gawker]
● Fox Business Network is pretty sure the new Muppets movie is just another of Hollywood’s attempts to turn America’s youth Red–as in communist. Taking particular concern with an evil oil baron puppet, Follow The Money‘s Eric Bolling purports that, "What they’re telling your kids is what they told them in The Matrix: that mankind is a virus on poor old Mother Earth." [Huff Post]
● Tom Cruise told an audience in India that he "loves" watching Hindi movies, and that he wouldn’t say no to a Bollywood role. You know, if anyone’s offering. [THR]
Muppet Madness is returning to TV. With growing anticipation of Wednesday’s release of The Muppets, a reboot of the phenomenally successful franchise co-written by actor Jason Segel, NBC announced today that it has closed a deal for a new comedy featuring puppets designed and produced by the Jim Henson Co.
The New Nabors (which is rumored to be a reference to Andy Griffith Show actor Jim Nabors), according to Deadline, will center around a human family who lives next to a family of puppets. This would not be the first puppet-based sitcom for NBC, which aired Alf in the ’80s. I wonder if the puppet family in The New Nabors will have an appetite for housecats?
The actual Muppets returned to late night television briefly over the weekend during Segel’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. If The Muppets is successful at the box office, maybe we’ll see a new appreciation for the art of puppetry. I certainly hope this brings puppets back to primetime, if only because puppet-human relations never fail to entertain me, which is really the important thing. Also important: the opening credits of the greatest human-puppet hybrid comedy ever produced for the small screen:
What’s up with the Muppets these days? They’re everywhere. First the Grammys, now an unofficial video for LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean.” Directed by Javier Douglas, the video was shot in the idyllic British seaside town of Brighton. It’s adorable. Animal and Cookie pass out drunk on the beach! Click through for the video.
I’m not sure what’s behind the new Muppet resurgence (might it all be one big lead-up to Jason Segel’s new muppet film?), but I’m all for it.