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Saturday, August 10, 2013

"That Puppet Game Show" Episode #1 Review from Nicholas Napoli

Today for the first time European Fans have been treated to a rare gift, a Henson non-preschool production airing in the U.K before the U.S but knowing how advanced everything is these days I’m sure everybody will get to watch it soon.

The show is around an hour long and follows the same format as The Muppet Show even taking the backstage action on stage at times. The characters all have well developed personalities and most of them although insane seem to have it more together than Kermit and company ever did on their own Show. In the premier episodes the first celebrity contestants were Jonathan Ross vs. Katherine Jenkins and honestly I have no idea who either of these people are. I thought not recognizing the celebrities would take away the fun from this show but not at all because as in The Muppet Show it’s the puppets that make you want to come back for more not the celebrities.

The show is split into two equal sections, the  games on stage and the backstage antics which in this case consisted of Manice O’Neil the producer forced by the Executive (a Bull) to fire one of the shows cast members due to budget cuts on the show. Eventually they all find out they might lose their jobs and panic about it both off stage and onstage. At the end of the episode Manice O’Neil stands up to the Executive Bull and tells him to fire her because none of her co-stars deserve to get fired… I would tend to disagree with her. Soon after the rest of the Puppet cast led by Eddie Watts the music expert begin quitting themselves leaving the Executive Bull no other option than to cancel the back-up show he always produces (in case they screw up this one). By doing so the Executive Bull manages to shift some money around to keep the entire cast working on the actual show.

And the big shocker of tonight’s episode was when Manice O’Neil and Eddie Watts were about to share a special romantic moment together until they are interrupted by a drunk Armadillo. I’m actually eager to see how this plays out and you can tell they plan to bring this up again which I think is a very clever move. These Puppets have their own sitcom style show within the actual game show, it’s a fun technique which I hope works out well for them.

This show might not have Chickens, Penguins or Rats but it does have a bunch of sausages and they are hilarious. Not only are they funny but the games played with them are brilliant as you can see from this clip…

 

The games are so much fun which is an added bonus because the backstage story alone can carry the whole show. At first it started a little slow but as soon as they played the first game the ball got rolling and it only kept getting stronger and stronger. The Celebrities were genuinely having a good time and neither of them looked uncomfortable speaking to the puppets. Either this was scripted or the two celebrities really got into it, they were having so much fun.

In one of the challenges the celebrities had to pretend to have won an award and are even given the speech they need to give but the thing is the speeches are ridiculous with insane facts and that’s the catch. 

Both contestants had to fill in the missing words as they read their speech under a certain amount of time. In another game both contestants were made to wear these strange suits covered in lights and each had to try to turn off all the lights on their suit before the other one does. 

The last game was one of my favourites where again The Hot Dogs were put to great use. A fake miniature garden had been built on stage showing off what The Hot Dogs did during their time off the show.

The Contestants are then hidden behind a tall face where they had to jump in order to look over the fence into the Hot Dogs garden. Whilst doing so the contestants were asked various questions concerning stuff going on in the garden, what the Hot Dogs were wearing, what they were doing and so on, it was loads of fun and I assume very tiring for the contestants.

I’m not a big fan of the host of the show because his British accent is a little hard to understand and he’s a bit boring. 

On the other hand Joe the Armadillo returns as Ian the Armadillo and steals the show. 

Ian the Armadillo gets drunk on the very first episode and even hosts his game wasted on stage. There is also a hilariously grouchy Crab commentator who loves talking about his personal life
problems.

All in all I think this is a great show, I do think it might struggle a little to find its audience (being a puppet show and all) but if given the chance could easily become a big hit. I can definitely picture the family gathered on a Saturday night watching this show together. For Muppet Fans the backstage antics will be what we’ll probably enjoy most but for the casual viewer I think the actual games will be what gets them hooked on this show.

Even if That Puppet Game Show doesn’t work out I can really see this cast of characters making their own way to Hollywood and getting a movie deal… I’d definitely watch That Puppet Movie.

Nicholas Napoli

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