Almost missed all of April, but there was news about adaptations coming in. Here is your news round up.
Sony Pictures to make live-action Robotech.
Sony now has the rights to Robotech, via Harmony Gold, and is looking to use the series as the base of a franchise. Harmony Gold seems to be still involved.
Steven Spielberg to helm Ready Player One adaptation.
Ernest Cline’s cult novel, Ready Player One has been optioned by Warner Bros, who will be working with director Steven Spielberg to make the movie. Some rights issues, mostly involving video game icons of the 80s, will need to be cleared, but Warner is hoping for a repeat of what happened with The LEGO Movie, where rights owners jumped on board.
Coach returning after 18 year hiatus.
Craig T. Nelson is coming back as the titular character in a follow-up series. Thirteen episodes have been ordered. This isn’t the only TV series making a comeback.
The reboot re-unites David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Chris Carter. The three said they would only come back if the others did as well.
Galaxy Quest Returns to TV.
Okay, technically it was never on TV. But the show in the movie was, in-universe. And thus is getting a reboot. Sort of. Metafiction weirds timelines.
Full House Returns to TV.
This, however, is simpler. Fuller House is a continuation, with Candance Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, and Andrea Barber returning to their original roles. Talks are ongoing with other members of the original cast, though John Stamos is on board as producer and will guest star.
It’s Time to Get Things (Re-)Started!
A new Muppet series to air on ABC. The new show will be aimed at an adult audience, though that’s not new for Muppets, and will take a look at their personal lives.
Archie will face his most deadly crossover yet!
Archie vs. Sharknado is a real thing. Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante has teamed up with Archie artist Dan Parent to bring the latest Archie crossover. Move aside, Punisher. Too bad, Predator. Archie has a new danger in his life.
Once again, the review is about another movie still in theatres, so I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible.
March turned out to be movie-filled for me, as I managed to catch several in the theatres. The first three, The LEGO Movie, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and Veronica Mars were all adaptations. The last movie, Muppets Most Wanted, falls into an odd designation.
I’ve reviewed Muppet movies in the past, with The Muppet Movie and The Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted is a sequel, the eighth of The Muppet Movie as Bunsen Honeydew points out in the movie, and all of them coming from The Muppet Show. Muppet movies fall under one of three types. The first type is where the Muppets play themselves. The best example is The Muppet Movie, where it was sort of how the Muppets came together. The second type is where the Muppets play characters based on themselves*. The Great Muppet Caper is a good example of this second type. The third type is where the Muppets play completely different characters, usually in an adaptation. Muppet Treasure Island shows that the Muppets can be both themselves and another character in this third type. Both The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted are of the first type of Muppet movie. This is where it gets difficult to figure out whether the lastest film is a sequel, an adaptation, or a bizarre hybrid out of Bunsen Honeydew’s labs.
Muppets Most Wanted picks up right where The Muppets ended, with the sets being struck, the props being returned, the extras going home, and even the cameras being put away. All the cameras, but one, which is still rolling. The Muppets don’t just break the fourth wall; they shatter it, twist it, and turn it into origami. After a song about making the sequel, they are convinced by Dominic Badguy**, played by Ricky Gervais, to take The Muppet Show on a world tour. The origami crane that was once the fourth wall is now a Moebius strip. Meanwhile, the new number one criminal, Konstantine, who looks very similar to Kermit, has escaped. And the camera is still rolling.
There is no doubt that the movie is well worth seeing. Danny Trejo in a song and dance number alone is worth admission. Psycho Drive-In has a full review of the movie. The question, though, is Muppets Most Wanted a remake, reboot, or adaptation, or is it just a sequel? To even try to answer that question, I had to examine the details. First, Muppets Most Wanted happily calls itself a sequel to The Muppets, which was a reboot of Muppet movies that owed its existance to The Muppet Movie. At the same time, the latest film couldn’t exist without The Muppet Show. While the rest of the movies wouldn’t exist, at least in their existing forms, there’s always a possiblility that Muppet movies would happen. Muppets Most Wanted needs The Muppet Show for the plot. Indeed, the movie shows the backstage shenanigans that happen when Kermit is removed from managing the show.
Yes, Muppets Most Wanted is an adaptation. The form is of a documentary of The Muppet Show on tour with a criminal genius using the ensuing chaos for his greatest crime, except for being a documentary. All the hallmarks of both The Muppet Show and previous Muppet movies – zaniness, camoes, self-deprecating humour, Miss Piggy trying to woo Kermit, severe damage to the fourth wall – are on display. The Muppets themselves are as people remember. Thus, Muppets Most Wanted is not only a sequel of The Muppet Movie, but an adaptation of The Muppet Show, one that has raised the bar on expectations of Muppet films to come.
Next week, Miami Vice.
* I know the Muppets are puppets, but bear with me. Each Muppet has a distinct personality that has been shown for up to fifty years.
** Pronounced Bad-zhee. It’s French.
Reaching back a bit, I reviewed The Muppets, the reboot/sequel to The Muppet Movie. However, The Muppet Movie itself was an adaptation, of sorts.
In 1976, The Muppet Show debuted as a variety show sketch comedy program. Each week, a different guest star would appear and get caught up in the antics and running gags of the Muppets. While the range of guest stars were more theatrical and British in the first season, as the series went on, more and more stars appeared. Mark Hamill reprised the role of Luke Skywalker for one episode while also playing himself shortly after filming The Empire Strikes Back. There was no fourth wall, and the show was seen, in-universe, as bad vaudeville. The Muppet Show was family entertainment, not the “family, but really only suitable for the under-five set” but “something for everyone in the family, from brightly colour puppets to double entendres to high art”. The series ended in 1981, with Roger Moore as the last guest star.
During the run, Muppetmania caught hold. Naturally, when there’s a mania, people want to exploit it. The need was there, so Henson Associates and ITC Films released The Muppet Movie in 1979. The movie told, approximately*, how the Muppets first came together, from Kermit’s early life in a swamp to running Muppet Theatre. The writers, Jack Burns and Jerry Juhl, were also the writes for The Muppet Show, and the core cast of performers came from the same spot.
The movie delivered. Favourite characters appeared, Miss Piggy was head over heels in love with Kermit who wasn’t as thrilled about her, Fozzie told bad jokes, Gonzo was weird, and Animal was Animal. Instead of a special guest star, there were cameos. Of note, The Muppet Movie was the last film Edgar Bergen appeared in; he passed away shortly after his scene was shot. Bergen was one of Jim Henson’s inspirations. The fourth wall didn’t exist. When the Electric Mayhem catch up to Kermit and friends, they explained that they used the script to find them. As for the running gags, there were several, from “Lost? Try Hare Krishna,” to “‘That’s just a myth! Myth!’ ‘Yeth’?”
The years since The Muppet Movie was made has added some new twists on the gags in the film. Gonzo’s desire to become a movie star by going to Bombay isn’t that odd now that Bollywood has become better known to North American audiences. Still, it’s not the easy way. The movie, though, really hasn’t aged. The Muppets picked up on a few ideas in The Muppet Movie and continued with them, including Gonzo’s old plumbing business.
As an adaptation, The Muppet Movie works. The form of The Muppet Show, a vaudeville theatre show, wouldn’t work for a movie, but showing how the Muppets got together, approximately, while keeping true to the nature of the characters, the show, and the overall tone more than made up the difference. The core writers and performers understood what the audiences would be expecting, and delivered without being predictable.
Next week, riffing off the It’s A Wonderful Life sequel.
* “Well, it’s sort of approximately how it happened.” – Kermit.