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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Earth To Ned Review By Nicholas Napoli

Growing up as a fan of all things Jim Henson means there is a childhood nostalgic feeling which every so often, I am reminded of in my adult life. When I was young, I would feel this excitement for anything Henson related, be it Muppets, Dinosaurs, Labyrinth, I love that feeling. I would immediately be hooked on the characters, I would create stories for them, I would search out all merchandise available, I would dwell for more, I would become obsessed. As I grew older that feeling was harder to come by, I just assumed as I got older that childhood excitement was just not there anymore, no matter the production. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance proved me wrong, that excitement is there, it’s not gone because I’m older, it’s gone because Jim Henson magic is harder to come by. Luckily Age of Resistance brought all of those childhood feelings back but The Dark Crystal had an advantage, I had been obsessed with that story since as far back as I can remember. Earth To Ned on the other hand are completely new characters, first time I’ve ever been introduced to them and still they made me feel as happy and captivated as six year old me felt watching Dinosaurs on TV back in the day. 

Earth To Ned is pure Henson Company magic, I love it, I’ve watched all ten episodes and I still want more, more episodes, plus toys, plus live appearances, plus even a movie, I want as much Earth To Ned as I can get. Would I recommend Earth To Ned to others? I definitely would and I would also recommend it not just as a great series but as an example of why I admire The Jim Henson Company so much. Everything about this show takes me back to my childhood, especially the dialogue between characters, I find that very appealing. Puppets need to rely more on the dialogue they speak than the actions they perform because they’re actions are very limited. Yes, The Dark Crystal proves that theory wrong but that’s because it had a big enough budget to justify all those cool puppet action scenes. In this show, the characters spend most of the episodes interacting in one room and talking to each other, the dialogue is enough to keep me focused and the puppetry is a special extra icing on the cake, just as I felt when I was younger. The writing on this show is very clever and the characters very well fleshed out, I especially love Ned, a less aggressive alien version of Miss Piggy. 

Ned, Cornelius, BETI, the Clods, all great characters who fit perfectly under The Jim Henson Company banner, I could see them invading Thra, discovering Fraggle Rock, even landing on Sesame Street, they fit into that world. Ned’s insecurities are the best, he is such a well-developed character, and we’ve had what only ten episodes of him. I’m so intrigued by his relationship with his Admiral Daddy, will he ever come to Earth and invade it or instead change his mind and become a guest on Ned’s talk-show? Either way I really want to see this relationship explored further at some point, so much potential, such great developed characters within a very interesting story, which is not even the main focus of the show but still I’m so invested in it. At the end of most episodes, Ned is seen sending updates to his father as to why earth has still not been invaded. These short ending scenes are so entertaining, as are the introductions, the talk-show itself and Cornelius` short interactions with humans in the outside world mid show are also great. Cornelius is such a good character and seeing him as a full-body puppet at least once per episode is such a treat, I especially loved it when we saw him in the wrestling ring. Kermit and Fozzie, Bert and Ernie, Ned and Cornelius, they make the list in my opinion and they deserve to be there, they play so well of each other, I think their dynamic is the strongest part of the show for me. BETI is also a lot of fun, she’s brings the grouchiness that’s needed on this show, she’s a no nonsenses A.I having to travel the universe with these two, it all gels so well together. Doozers, Twiddlebugs, Rats, Penguins, Chickens, Clods, yes they make the list too, the Clods are so much fun, I want merchandise. 

Then we have the guest stars, I have no idea who most of them are but I was still very entertained by the show and its guests. This reminded me a lot of The Muppet Show where even without knowing who the guest was, I still enjoyed the show and that guest’s performance added to that enjoyment even though I had no idea who they were. Write good dialogue, make great entertainment and then if I happen to recognize the guest star even better but even if I don’t it should still not affect my enjoyment of the show and Earth To Ned was able to accomplish that. I actually am now more fanatic over some of these guest stars because even though I had no idea who they were, their interaction with Ned and company on the show has piqued my interest in them. It’s obviously scripted in many parts but it seriously all felt so real, like a live non-rehearsed interview with guests who’ve suddenly, unexpected to them been beamed onto an alien hosted talk show. Each episode also has a theme to it, which is played up on the show and then discussed by the guests, it’s all tied together very cleverly, the writing on this show is amazing, as is everything else but good writing in my opinion is so hard to come across these days that I am truly in awe of it on this show.
 
Bring back Ned for a season 2 and at some point, please have him take over Earth, I think we might be all the better for it. 

- Nicholas Napoli, Author of 
Politics, Bullies and You

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