Michael Wermuth – Last holiday season brought us Lady Gaga & the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular. Fan reception was mixed. There were some fans who liked the special, I feel like it was a lot better than I had expected, and The Muppet Mindset gave it a decent review. But there was also a lot of criticism, from fans as well as parents. Today, I’ll take a look at five good things about the special, as well as five bad… In fact, normally when I do these articles I list five good things first, but this time I think it might be better to list the bad things first.
1. It’s a Lady Gaga special
I don’t like Lady Gaga. I find her highly overrated. When I first heard of this special, I groaned over the fact that the Muppets would be starring in a special with her more than being excited over a new Muppet special. I won’t say that this is the worst thing the Muppets have ever done (though I doubt I’d include any moments from this on any list of my favorite Muppet moments), and I guess it’s great that she specifically asked to have the Muppets be a big part of her special.
2. Too many scenes without Muppets
Okay, to be fair, the Muppets do have a number of scenes without Lady Gaga, and I do have the same issue with the John Denver specials (except those are a lot better). But the scenes without the Muppets are way too long, some of the guest stars don’t appear with the Muppets, and considering many of the Lady Gaga-only numbers are dance numbers, those would have been good opportunities to bring in full-body Muppets like Sweetums, Thog, and the Mutations.
3. Not much “holiday” content
There’s a few holiday songs included, but for the most part, this special could have easily aired any time of the year and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. It seems to have been promotion for Lady Gaga’s newest album more than to be a holiday special. But then again, in this day and age television specials are rare unless they involve a holiday or special event, so maybe it had to be a Christmas special in order to be made.
4. The Electric Mayhem seems too forgetful, and basically does the same joke twice
The scenes involving The Electric Mayhem do have some good things about them (Zoot gets two full lines, and Lips appears), but at the same time, it’s awkward. The band is asked about their favorite Christmas memories… And they are all too burnt-out/unsure what answer to give? It fits the rock star stereotype, but I don’t think the band is normally like that. And both times, it’s the same basic joke, each ending with similar punchlines from Zoot. It’s as if they recorded multiple takes of the same scene with the intention of only including one but then including more than one.
5. Plotlines barely go anywhere
There’s a few plotlines in this, but they seem to go nowhere. There are scenes with Miss Piggy being jealous of Lady Gaga which isn’t done too much and this plotline is resolved in a way that’s not too interesting. And then there’s the fact that the characters are preparing for the special, during the special, which pretty much go nowhere. We get a sequence where the Muppets audition acts, and a scene with Lady Gaga and the Muppets talking about ideas for the special… They should have had more scenes like these.
1. Lips makes an appearance
Lips is one of the few obscure characters to show up, he appears with the band (albeit not in the opening number), it makes the special a little worth watching.
2. The opening song
The opening song is lively and rockin’, shows Lady Gaga and the Muppets having an exciting time… It’s a good way to fool people into thinking the whole special will be this fun.
3. “Baby It’s Cold Outside”
This number with Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt is perhaps the only non-Muppet performance in this special that I like. It’s a really good rendition of the song.
4. The auditioning sequence
The special should have had more scenes with the Muppets auditioning and coming up with ideas, and while this plotline feels like a first draft, the scene with characters auditioning is a good little scene. Sam the Eagle shows up just to say that he won’t participate, and Big Mean Carl appears as “The Amazing Carl”.
5. The Closing Number
The closing number in this special is a great way to close it, with Lady Gaga and the Muppets dancing. It would have been great if more Muppets were in that scene, but the opening and closing numbers are both great highlights for the special.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org