"Do you do...Gonzo?" "No."
So evidently a 10-minute pilot was filmed sometime in December that is making the rounds at Disney and may well lead to a brand new Muppet mini-series. You can read about it here, but perhaps the most interesting thing about the possible Muppet revival is the format:
The short pilot uses the television syntax of a documentary (think "The Office" meets "The Muppet Show").
Honestly, I think this might be a good step for the franchise to take. The false-documentary format is nothing new, but it's certainly achieved a stature it's never had before, owing in large part to the global success of The Office (both versions) and the Christopher Guest films thathave been meeting with both critical and commercial success.
But what does this mean for The Muppets?
The series revolves around Kermit the Frog as he attempts to reassemble the Muppet troupe and launch a new Muppet show. The mockumentary mini-series would feature fictional English filmmaker Ian Bascombe who, with his film crew, follow the daily happenings Kermit and the Muppets, both on and off stage. Bascombe finds that many of the classic Muppets have gone off to other venues since we last saw them and follows Kermit as the frog attempts to track them down and get the whole troupe back together.
This sounds...I mean, seriously now...this sounds just wonderful. This is exactly the sort of thing I'd like to see should The Muppets return to television. Exactly. Acknowledge your absence. Work it into the plot. Allow it to take a natural format that works.
Of course, something else should be mentioned: this isn't the first time The Muppets have tried to resurface on television. In fact, several other pilots have already been made and discarded in the past ten years or so. So what sets this one apart?
Well, time will tell. But the teams seems confident about this one...something I believe is due almost entirely to its new format...a perfect way to reintroduce the characters to a generation of television viewers that probably wouldn't care too much for a variety show hosted by puppets. It should also be noticed that Disney (who owns the franchise, now, in case you didn't know), is actively trying to repopularize the characters, which should work in the favor of this new venture.
My fingers are crossed. If Fozzie Bear ever had a flesh-and-blood comedy counterpart, it's David Brent. (Oooh, wait, this is fun...Sam the Eagle as Gareth...would Kermit be Neil, or Tim? Maybe a little of both...) I'd absolutely love, love, love to see this take off.