That Blog About That Puppet Game Show

Earlier this evening (as I write this), I watched the first episode That Puppet Game Show, a show on BBC1 that was made with the Jim Henson Company. Being a big fan of the Muppets and pretty much everything their creators have done since childhood, I was looking forward to watching this, as virtually everything that they are involved with has some great moments in it.

I thought the show was quite enjoyable myself. It wasn’t brilliant –  there were certain things that didn’t quite work, notably some of the “backstage” sequences, and one or two of the characters are a bit forgettable, but it was fun to watch all the same. It did have a couple of flashes of greatness. The sketch featuring a puppet family, sat at home watching the “Lights Out” game (a game in which guests Jonathan Ross and Katherine Jenkins, clad in suits covered in lights, try to punch as many of them out as they can), was quite funny. And out of all the characters, the two that stand out for me the most are an armadillo called The Amazing Ian, who is the show’s “mental agility expert” (and appears to like a drink) and Clyde, a crab who delivers the scores (who also happens to be a bit, well, crabby). While I thought the show was entertaining, I seemed to be in the minority, if what I saw about it on Twitter was anything to go by. A lot of the tweets I saw were fairly negative about the show, labelling it another bad piece of Saturday night TV. But a common theme seemed to run through most of them, namely that it wasn’t The Muppet Show.

Ah yes, The Muppet Show, easily one of the greatest family entertainment shows ever created. I loved that show. Kermit the frog was my childhood hero (yes I looked up to a muppet, what of it?) I watched practically every episode, including the ones where I didn’t know who the special guest was (who was Madeleine Kahn, for instance?) There is nothing I would love more than to see Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and co on my TV screens again. Thing is though, it ain’t gonna happen. Because save for an odd TV special, The Muppets are a bit too big for television now. And even if a brand new series was made, it would probably never live up to the original. Remember Muppets Tonight? I personally loved it, however looking back it was doomed to fail because of  some of those who remembered the original fondly not giving it much of a chance.  It’s not surprising that this latest offering is getting this reaction. It could be the most amazing programme in TV history, and people would still be going “It’s no Muppet Show, is it?” Its this kind of attitude that stops you from fully enjoying things. How can you fully take in someone’s newest film, TV show or record if all the while you’re comparing it to what they’ve done before?

Yes, That Puppet Game Show is nowhere near of the standard of The Muppet Show. I don’t expect it to be, but I won’t write it off as bad either, as it does show promise. I will keep watching it  because even a below par Jim Henson Company production is better than a lot of the dross that gets served up on TV these days.

I’ll end this post with a clip of one of the more crazier moments of the programme. Scottish, Proclaimers singing hot dogs, anyone?

The Last Broadcast

This evening, the BBC are saying goodbye to Television Centre. On BBC4, I watched Madness play an excellent set in the grounds of the famous studios, while Michael Grade is interviewing some of the BBC’s famous faces on their memories of working there. While all the attention is being focussed on the BBC’s final broadcasts from its legendary home, closer to home another era in television is ending. This evening, the final edition of Granada Reports to be broadcast from Granada TV’s equally legendary Quay Street studios was being transmitted. From Monday, it will be broadcast from its new home at Media City.

Granada Studios, home to some of the world’s greatest television. Next to the Beeb.

I am sad to see Granada leave its Quay Street home. I have walked past it plenty of times over the years. My Mum and my sister both went to watch shows that were recorded at the studios. As a kid, I went on a school trip to the now defunct Granada Studios Tour. I got to walk down Coronation Street and Baker Street (as it was in Granada’s brilliant Sherlock Holmes series), wandered round a room straight out of The Return of the Antelope and watched a debate in the House of Commons. The trip fuelled my interest in television and I hoped to one day be able to walk through the corridors of Granada for real. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

My main fear for Granada Studios, is that it will end up being demolished like the BBC on Oxford Road did. I went past the site of the latter on the bus only last week and was sad to see the gaping hole (and the car park) that has been left there. As it isn’t a listed building, there is a big chance that the Quay Street site could also disappear from the Manchester skyline. It would be a total shame if ITV allowed the oldest working studios in Britain, which is probably the best known after Television Centre, to disappear. And I would hate to see it become some other pricey housing development or soulless office block that is constantly empty, even if they call it “Granada Court” or “Bernstein Towers” (after Sir Sidney Bernstein, Granada TV’s founder). As with Television Centre, why can’t they just leave them alone and let them keep making great television? It’s not that I’m opposed to change, but when things seem to be working OK, why change them?