James Gannon – And so we come to the end of the Muppet Sherlock Holmes with Issue 4, “Musgrove Ritual.” Now, I’m doing things a bit different. Rather than a brief rundown of a plot, I’m just going to go right into the opinion part, referring to certain plot points. First off, I STILL didn’t manage to read any Sherlocks in the past four months (I can’t find my old library card), but I am looking up important plot points so I can point a few things out. I did see that new PBS series, though.
Anyway, Sherlock must solve the mysterious disappearance of a butler with an old cryptic message as the only clue. Unlike the last two issues, this story focuses almost exclusively on actual detective work and jokes therein. And I feel that’s what made this issue, as well as the first, strong. Issue 2 fell into infiltration gags fast and long, and issue 3 spent more time mocking interoffice politics than real crime solving, but managed to get the job done near the end anyway. Also, we see Kermit’s Inspector LeStrade character batting cleanup for Sherlock, pointing to very obvious clues in a portrait and generally reacting negatively to Sherlock’s eccentricity. Again, something that was explored in the first issue that sort of petered out in the second and third. Kermit almost seemed like a third wheel in those issues, going with Sherlock’s plans, and by no means reluctantly. And there are some clever character related gags in this issue, like Fozzie’s confusion about how it’s a period piece. It really seems this issue is what the last two SHOULD have been.
I don’t know if I’d call this a spoiler, but… well, this issue FINALLY introduces the character of Moriarty (Uncle Deadly) whom they were foreshadowing at the end of the first issue. Apparently the events of the first three issues were all part of his massive conspiracy. His appearance as the head of the Red Headed League is revealed to be an alias. Unfortunately, this issue is also a mash up of two Sherlock Holmes stories, the second one being “The Adventures of the Final Problem” where in… well, Moriarty makes his final appearance. So basically, he reveals himself at the very end of the series, just before everything’s over. It’s a shame Moriarty didn’t reveal himself sooner, giving this last issue a sharper edge for a cliff hanger.
All things considered, this was a pretty good mini-series, but so much kept it from being great. I’d say quite the opposite happened with Muppet Robin Hood than with this series. In that comic, it almost seems like it was played straight, and the jokes and Muppety bits were awkwardly added in, only to finally become solid in the last issue. Here, the action took a back seat to jokes. And if some of them were omitted, there would have been a better balance between comedy and action. I did really enjoy Sherlock being both oblivious AND competent, and wish that was played out a little more. After all, a parody demands a klutzy version of the character they’re parodying. That said, it’s not that this series seemed rushed as it needed a little more time to gestate, and it’s not so much a blown opportunity as it could have had a LOT more in it. Patrick Storck did a very good job trying to get this series away from the stereotyped Basil Rathbone movie portrayal, and not once in four issues did Gonzo say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” (Although, that was a staple joke in The Muppet Show Comic Book issue #6) It really seems this should have had a second writer, though, someone to punch stuff up and remind everyone how important the plot was. Muppet King Arthur and Muppet Snow White had multiple writers, and they were the strongest of the Muppet Classics line.
That said, this time I really, REALLY wish this series wasn’t over, or at least that it could be revisited. There was a lot of potential that just didn’t fit into the format chosen. Though I still think the one case per issue format worked. The cases picked seemed to be the weirder, less popular Holmes cases that fit in with the Muppets well, but maybe a more popular case would have been great down the line. I’d love for them to continue this series, but the ending isn’t left all that open. Plus, we have no news on if the Muppet Classics line is continuing or not. That would be a shame, especially since the future of The Muppet Show Comic Book is in limbo.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier