- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It may always be a bit “froggy” why the new Muppets television show is being overhauled, but columns and reports decrying the adult content on the show can’t have helped.

Deadline Hollywood reported Wednesday that the ABC/ABC Studios’ “The Muppets” has released the show’s co-creator, Bob Kushell, who was co-writing “The Muppets” with Bill Prady, co-creator of the adult comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.”

Kristin Newman, who has been co-executive producer on several comedies and is currently with ABC’s musical fairy tale “Galavant,” is in talks to step in for Mr. Kushell, Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva wrote.

Behind the scenes, Ms. Andreeva wrote, “I hear there was a clash of styles and vision for the show.”

The half-hour Tuesday night show, which debuted in September, follows the Muppets as they produce a late-night talk show called “Up Late With Miss Piggy.”

But critics winced at the breakup of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, Muppets getting drunk at bars, and “adult-themed content every 3 minutes and 38 seconds,” according to a Parents Television Council (PTC) report issued in October.

Mr. Kushell had defended the show’s edgy content, saying adults were expected to watch the show with kids, “so we’re not pitching stories or thinking of stories that are, like Norman Lear stories from the 1970s.”

But Miss Piggy talking about plastic surgery on her breasts and buttocks, Kermit the Frog talking about “cross-promoting” with a female character, and Fozzie Bear having a hangover may have made viewers feel like they had joined Kermit in a life he described as “a bacon-wrapped hell on earth.”

“We call on the ABC Television Network to relaunch ‘The Muppets’ so that parents can actually watch the show with their children without fear of their children being confronted by sex and drugs on this iconic TV show,” Tim Winter, president of the PTC, said Wednesday.

Other critics included Mike Ayers, arts and entertainment writer at the Wall Street Journal, and Jonathan Bernstein of the London Telegraph.

Mr. Ayers wondered if the beloved puppets were “too grownup”?

The show “is a tone-deaf disaster,” opined Mr. Bernstein.

“People want to love The Muppets. They want to see Kermit and his furry friends overcome all the odds to put on the best show they can. They don’t want to see a weary, beaten-down frog toiling on the terrible late-night talk show fronted by his unhinged ex-girlfriend,” he wrote.

According to Deadline Hollywood, “The Muppets” will end up with 16 episodes in its first season, with several still in development. The episodes run in the spring are likely to be treated as a relaunch.



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