Pig Girls Don’t Cry: Thoughts Thus Far

Recent articles posted here have been heavy so let’s lighten things up around here, I will instead do a TV piece. You may or may not be aware that The Muppets are back on TV with a new series about their latest project, a late night chat show hosted by Miss Piggy. However, the show also does the behind the scenes of the show within the show in a mockumentary style, essentially modernising the old Muppet Show format by fusing The Office and Conan O’Brian’s chat show into one thing but with puppets. Sound good? Well…

The show has a promising start, Muppet humour is there from the beginning. Beaker gets abused, there’s a misdirect by Honeydew, the whole “Piggy is the star but she’s an actual pig, ergo she is heavy and such” stuff, jokes that would not be out of place in the old films. However, we get a taste of the adult humour with Zoot mistaking the team meeting for an AA meeting and Sam playing the ‘concerned mothers of America’ voice as he goes combing through the scripts for even the vaguest of innuendos and curse-like words. I guess it puts us on the same page as the writers then, it’s the characters we love in a way we don’t normally see them. After some easy jokes, we get to hear what to expect – ‘The Muppets’ is the story of our favourite characters working on a new TV concept whilst being recorded in a documentary, the format immediately being ripped on by Gonzo, who is in turn made the target of an obvious joke. Things are okay so far, not exceptional but it looks like something worth watching at least, let’s see where they take it.

Well, cue Piggy. Miss Piggy, poor Miss Piggy, is just bad in this appearance. The sassy yet sexy glamour pig of our past who was always a little self-centred but fundamentally charming is hacked apart by people who have clearly reduced her down to a handful of traits – namely dolled up, loud and bossy. She shouts at staff for no real reason, her first line is a line of abuse and she tears the efforts of others apart without mercy before hounding Kermit for the most trivial stuff. Piggy only gets worse later on but I’m doing this review in the process of the episode so each thing as it happens for now. So, the show must go on, Fozzie is the warmup act for the crowd before the main event and fails in his usual fashion, getting savaged by Statler and Waldorf, the only characters who are still their old selves.

The ‘show’ goes on whilst Kermit has thoughts to himself, the fact he uses the world ‘hell’ in these thoughts is remarked upon negatively by Sam, who I guess has gone from a patriot to a pansy. After that, he books a guest star, Tom Bergeron of Dancing With Stars, called in to replace a guest Piggy can’t stand. Kermit is rather negative in his appearance here, more on that later because we now have to see into Fozzie’s love life. Yup, cue easy joke about the dual meaning of bear as both an animal and a burly gay man. Fozzie is subjected to… bear racism, by his girlfriend’s dad and the scene is just… yeesh… bad. Less said the better but the barrel was scraped for these racism analogies using salmon and toilet habits, because jokes about bears are finite people, cut them some slack, Henson exhausted the good ones thirty something years ago.

Cut back to the writer’s office, Gonzo shows Kermit a skit he’s been working on and Kermit says he hates it, not in a disdainful but ultimately lets his friends have their way Kermit sense but more a “You are paid for this job? For real? I fucking resent that” tone of voice. Gonzo doesn’t seem bothered by the criticism and then we have Denise, the subject of controversy and Kermit’s new squeeze, a prettier skinnier pig with this cheeky playful demeanour. Yeah, Kermit dropped a feminist for an airhead, go figure, kinda sketchy when you think about it. Adult humour is brought in here with Denise giving her drink straw some puppet fellatio in the background of Kermit’s talking head section and Kermit even refers to “We met at a cross-promoting event and ended up… ‘cross-promoting'”. This is jarringly weird, the Muppets are making references to fucking each other, these are not the characters for this sort of humour, either make new puppets based on the Muppets to do this show or just cut the sex references, sure a kid won’t get them but it’s just uncomfortable to watch.

So, Piggy is brought back up, shouting abuse at her personal trainer this time, she seems to take out her frustration on people set on making the most of her potential, is this something extremely clever or did the head writer just say “Make Miss Piggy into a colossal fuckhead”? After that, Denise reveals the reason she thinks Piggy didn’t want former guest Elizabeth Banks in the show, they auditioned for a film together and Piggy wasn’t picked for a part, boo-hoo. Kermit then decides that’s a stupid reason for cutting a guest from a show and brings Banks back in without consulting anyone, he just does it, he views it as decisive action but I see it as weedy and cowardly, he’s not facing up to Piggy, he’s going behind her back to undermine her. Note, there is no scene in which he cancels Tom’s appearance, we just go onto the next day, Banks is there and Kermit tells everyone to just deal with it and that Piggy can essentially suck his green one if she’s unhappy. Kermit then shouts down all who oppose his irrefutably clever move, horribly even, he takes on Animal and Gonzo like they aren’t friends, they’re idiots holding him back. Denise thinks this is a sexy take-charge frog but Kermit has gone against the protocols and asked for no opinions from anyone, he’s assumed because he’s in charge of the behind-the-scenes stuff he can just do whatever.

Anyway, this take-charge mood is turned on its head when he decides Banks can’t be around where Miss Piggy can see her until the show begins so he tries to offhand her to Scooter but she throws him out of one of those golf-buggy things they use to navigate studios and comes back to ask what is going on. Of course, Piggy walks in and awkward hijinks ensue… by which I mean Kermit is unveiled as an underhanded toad rather than a timid-but-endearing frog. Fozzie is also there, trying to impress his girlfriend and her family by showing them where he works but Miss Piggy shouts at him and calls him worthless, she also forgot his goddamn name earlier on. Are you shitting me? THEY WORKED TOGETHER, this takes place in a continuity after they made films and TV shows together and here she is just being really unreasonably mean to him for just trying to be a showman.

The truth about Elizabeth Banks and Miss Piggy is revealed, they broke up after seeing Pitch Perfect 2, in which Banks starred. Piggy was apparently taking too many selfies and ruined the film for Kermit, who then realises he’s just been a sucker for her abuse for ages and walks away. Kermit has apparently forgotten about this and realises now he is the one in the wrong, he forgot about the whole affair and how Elizabeth Banks was on a poster in that moment. He tries to make peace with her and she then tears apart his life choices and his weight gain after he asks for honesty. The only other thing before the show goes live is the end of the Fozzie arc in this episode – the parents aren’t impressed and leave but the girlfriend stays, she says she loves that brown ball of bad puns no matter what they say and he’s not convinced or satisfied, instead he wonders how he can validate himself by some other means. Geez Fozzie, I didn’t realise you had it so rough, are you trying so hard due to some childhood issue? It’s an odd attempt to add depth to a talking pile of felt and ping-pong balls but Fozzie is one of the characters in this I can watch without wincing, sadly can’t say that for backstabbing Kermit or egocentric she-devil Miss Piggy.

The show goes ahead, Tom Bergeron turns up and realises what’s happened and Kermit feels awful… but not bad enough to send him a personal gift or anything, just a ‘standard gift basket’ package, claiming it’s ‘good enough’. Note, if you think an apology is just enough to meet a standard, that’s insincere, it should be an apology befitting what you did wrong – Tom’s been made a fool of and built up for nothing, that’s unfair on the guy. I get he’s obviously the ‘minor celebrity cameo’ but if we took this as a real life scenario, Kermit is the sort of guy to scrimp on apologies? What a colossal twat. After that, we wrap up with a musical performance by Imagine Dragons with guest drummer Animal and a quick joke from the grouchy old men we all know and love and that’s that, the least outright hilarious thing I’ve seen the Muppets in for a long time…

Review done, let’s address the controversy, is it suitable for children? Family characters taking on a mature style of show? Well, I reckon you could let children watch it, the inappropriate stuff is hinted at so subtly it’d fly over your head until you’re 16 but aside from seeing talking puppets and some occasional slapstick, there’s not much for kids here. The characters are boring, the jokes are mostly one liners and there’s nothing wacky to look forward to – Gonzo isn’t catapulted into space by some bizarre contraption, Beaker doesn’t almost die for some sadistic science project, Animal doesn’t go batshit crazy and Kermit doesn’t do the “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!” thing any more. I’d worry more about disappointing kids than corrupting them with this, it disappointed me. I get the feeling the writers just looked at what comedy has become and tried to emulate it and in doing so, turned their characters into interchangeable personnas you’d have Steven Merchant play in a sitcom. In fact, someone call Ricky Gervais, I think they probably stole some of his work and passed it as their own. I understand characters need to change and evolve to stay fresh but this isn’t it for me, at least not so far, maybe it’ll improve but the pilot was a lack-lustre attempt to force goofy puppets into roles portrayed by the cast of Extras in a way supposedly engaging for the American audience. As for the controversial character of Denise, she’s got nothing on Piggy thus far, she’s sorta flirty and tries to be funny but I doubt a great deal of thought was given to her, she’s basically a “Hot girl in the workplace” trope at this point.

There you go, my thoughts thus far, I’ll keep watching and hoping and review the series at the end if people are interested (And any especially interesting episodes in between) but if you think you have to see this, you don’t, it’s nothing special, it’s a so-so comedy using famous characters made popular by nostalgia and recent movies to promote itself and it’s sub-par script

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E-Gads!

To further promote your image of me as a horrid little troll who lives in the basement feeding off the dead remains of farm animals whilst flicking his snot around the room and calling everything noob, I am an avid gamer and have been ever since I was little. In all fairness, being a ‘gamer’ has become a cooler thing to be as the years have passed and the industry is booming. Could you imagine trying to be a hardcore gamer back in the days where your computer hooked up to your TV set? Fuck yeah, just beat my record at Pong bitches, haters gonna hate! I was born in the nineties so I can almost consider myself as having grown up alongside the video game industry and what started as a cute yet dorky little dysfunctional child/console soon grew up to be something bigger, smarter and with a lot more tricks up his sleeve/disc slot. However, as I reach the period of my life that is full of uncertainty, of opportunities to grasp a hold of and make something of or to fail, I feel that my dear old games consoles have stumbled across an identity crisis themselves. Oh what poor naive children are we, lost and afraid in a modern world.

Let’s start with the console that everybody loves to hate, the latest edition in the XBOX family, XBOX One. Apparently one now comes after three hundred and sixty but then who’s counting. Not Microsoft. Cheap joke but XBOX started out as the green-eyed envy of Bill Gates made into a ‘Kinda like Playstation but chunky and I own it’ deal and from there it went on to become Sony’s main rival. At first when XBOX stormed the scene it sported a wide range of games, mostly aimed towards boys with a fixation on proving how manly they are by rubbing their balls in each other’s faces, and aside from having technical difficulties that became feared as a techno-plague, XBOX and his son 360 took their place on the stand of big-fucking-deal console. I’m sure we are all familiar with the XBOX 360, the console with more shooters on the market than innovative ideas, a fan base mostly consisting of beer-swilling-racial-slur-slinging hoodwinks but with the occasional boffin chucked in on the side because they realised Fallout New Vegas works much better on 360 than on PS3 or they sided with XBOX at the start and won’t change sides from there. XBOX 360 looked like it was going to take itself seriously though, in the long run, and just as it started rolling out games that offered a challenge, it pandered to the family-fun gremlin and boom, Kinect. I have used the Kinect, a god awful piece of shite with a lense that throws a wobbly if you step just half an inch too far one way or the other, like a fascist who has discovered Feng Shui. As the build up to E3 made the new XBOX One out to be some sort of schizophrenic toaster that thinks it’s a cinema system with a social network latched on, Microsoft had a lot of shit to scrape off it’s shoes… It not only failed to this but it planted both feet in the shit and did a merry fucking jig. The XBOX One is essentially that computer from Space Odyssey but it orders pizzas, streams movies and apparently constantly observes your living room for signs of insubordination against the great beings! The camera is constantly on and the console demands you connect online at least once a day or your games will be rendered null and void until you have given a Microsoft executive a thoroughly good hand-job. You can’t trade or buy used games without going through a lengthy procedure and as ever, all the goodies that you actually want your XBOX to do will cost you a modest fee. Joy. I’ve never been a big fan of the XBOX but even XBOX fans have been telling me the new console is a blinking light show that raids your trousers for spare change whilst you’re drearily staring at some heavily armoured space marine with a gun bigger than his own leg.

Sony’s turn now and their entire campaign was mostly ‘Reasons why Microsoft should just quit now’. Sony promised something cheaper, something that is actually turned off when you press the power switch to do so, a more gamer-oriented experience and even did a video to explain how to share games using that age old method of handing the other person the disc. Yup, if Sony wasn’t trying to take a shit on Microsoft’s doorstep then someone please direct them to the bathroom because they left a steamer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA&list=WL6F4BEE00F8B2ED96

Well the PlayStation has had a funny life all things considered, emerging from the darkness to suddenly dethrone Sega and Nintendo as the top dogs of the nineties with a faster and more sleak little number, the PS One (See, they even did the one thing first). Profits swelled and ho-hey, out comes a second PlayStation and this one is black and sexy and it plays DVDs and it has a whole host of games we all know and love. Sure, it now had a rival in Microsoft but it kept going, the ever-reliant oxen of the console world. I think an ox is an apt metaphor, the console won’t break down on you and you can always rely on it to be your humble servant but it’s a bit dopey and it’s potential can only be used to the truest extent provided you know anything about oxen in the first place. The PS3, when it first came out, sold itself on the premise ‘Wait around long enough and we’ll show you something really cool, honestly… keep waiting… keep waiting… seriously, it’ll blow your mind in a few years!’. Unfortunately, Sony spent a fuck ton of money and energy on swagger and forgot to back it up with some real substance so it had a shaky start next to the 360 but then it got into the swing of things and started doing backflips and juggling knives for all the boys and girls. Shooters? Yeah. Party games? Yeah. Hack and slash? Yeah. Games where you play as the animated remains of a wallet dressed in drag and save your patchwork buddies from an anti-social owl? Yeah why not? The PS4 is a step up from there… supposedly, though it couldn’t help getting itself a little touch-screen like his buddy Wii U and now the beloved Dualshock looks hideous, like that girl you used to think was a real stunner until she died her hair the colour of pixie shit and you’re left confused as to what was wrong with brown hair? I’m not sure what to expect of the PS4, they’ve pitched it around an old man’s face and the promise of yet another Final Fantasy game… and Kingdom Hearts apparently.

This leave us with the good old Wii U, the ugly child of the Wii who was the ugly child of Nintendo’s mind finally snapping into a bunch of random squiggles with Mario’s face on. In the usual tradition, Nintendo announced new consoles with old games made a little more shiny as if scared of having new ideas but this is nothing new, the SNES came with a remake of Super Mario Bros for the NES but with cuter graphics. I never understood the direction Nintendo sought to go in. Start from brick with box pad controls, make nicer brick with similar controls, make little box with ergonomically designed controllers, make brick with wand thing, make cute looking brick with Etch-A-Sketch. The Wii U uses two screens, a feature I’m pretty sure almost nobody asked to be incorporated into games. Gee, this HUD display in my shooter game is so conveniently placed right in front of me, I wish someone would get rid of it and put it on my iPad for me to stare at periodically so I can fail to remember whether it was ammo or health items I needed to restock. ¬†You touch a few buttons on the little fella and then your TV makes a sound, the game continues, taking otherwise seamless and smooth game play and then chopping it into jagged chunks. The games roster will be the usual deal, find an old game, advertise it all over again with a heavy dose of nostalgia and then dig up a character from the nineties and remind people that this character is cool. Megaman is back people, he’s in the “New” Super Smash Bros. Game. Nintendo has bought the rights to a few good games though, including Bayonetta 2 unfortunately (I say this as it’s a Wii U exclusive and how that will work is a mystery to me). All in all, the Wii U will assume the position previously filled by the Wii – an ever-so-charming box of wonders suited to gamers of all ages that occasionally pisses out ¬†sentimental memories of Sonic the Hedgehog all over the rug. D’awwwwww Nintendo, you little cutie!

I can’t help but feel an age of gaming has passed as consoles compete like bickering old ladies in a bingo parlour only to find that all three have shat themselves and there never was a bingo parlour, they’re sat in a pub in Hull. The games console isn’t a games console any more, that’s not what comes first. Your console is a cinema system, a fast-food order machine, an internet browser, a free international phone service, a social network provider, a photo album, your Netflix subscription and YouTube all rolled into one and it kinda feels a bit weird. Before gaming became a big deal and a big money-maker the rules were simple.
‘This console plays games that have this console’s names written on it. You buy games at a store, you put them in the console, you have fun, you get bored, you buy or trade for new games and repeat until you are bored of console. If you want to watch TV, watch TV on the TV, not on console. Console play game? Yeah?’
Ignoring how I suddenly devolved from fluent English to Engrish as the sarcasm actually cannibalised my brain cells for a moment, I hope I make a point. However, once anything makes a name for itself it becomes an udder you milk for money until the cow explodes. The consoles cost the same as a decent used car nowadays so maybe for that kinda money we should expect this little flashing box of giggles to offer us pizza now and then, or replace the DVD player. Easy fix there though would be just build something that is a generic disc-recipient that plays back what is on the disc and that’s it, cut the price down a bit!

Not how it works is it? Well I thought I’d let you all know console wise, I side with PS3. Not PS4, because unlike most people I don’t just have the money to get a new console on a whim and if I did, I’d spend it on something more useful. The PS3 is fine, it works, it is a good console with more than enough games and I have a PS2 for the PS2 games, the PS3 plays PS1 games for whatever reason so yeah. I’ve never owned an XBOX though I have lived in a household that owned a 360 for a few months and found it to be an up and down experience. My friends were all XBOX or Wii fans back in the day so I’ve spent a minimum of about twenty-four hours on each of the major consoles of this generation. I like my PS3 best, not out of that stupid ‘My parents got me the PlayStation, please can it be the best console so I don’t regret asking for it instead of the XBOX?’ logic that many gamers go by but mostly because a number of Dynasty Warriors games are PlayStation exclusive and considering how it defined my childhood, I stick by PlayStation. Cue hate from gamers calling the series a dull button mashing splorge fest in a historic setting, so sue me for enjoying something. If you are ten years old and you witness a guy in red and gold armour swing a halberd around and effortlessly destroy an entire army, that quickly sells to you.

I hope that come what may, we will never lose sight of the joy of slapping the old disc in a console and sitting down with a remote ready to immerse ourselves in a zombie apocalypse, a ninja showdown or the adventures of a stuffed animal in the land of milk and honey. Once that’s gone, I’ll just say fuck it to the lot of it and live out the rest of my gaming days on outdated consoles quite happily.