The Muppet franchise has tried a few new things over the years, and while some of it has been well-received, other projects have not. The short-lived ABC primetime comedy The Muppets is one noteworthy example, and it turns out that a prolific voice actor from the franchise had some blunt thoughts about that project and why it failed. Frank Oz said the magic in the Muppets is their purity, and The Muppets more or less destroyed that.
Frank Oz wasn't a fan of the liberties The Muppets took with Fozzie Bear, specifically the real life persona that was given to that character and presumably others. Frank Oz told attendees at SXSW (via Syfy) it was a destruction of the "purity of work," but perhaps not in the way folks would think. Oz doesn't seem so upset about the general actions of Fozzie, but rather that those developments limited him as a character.
Essentially, giving Fozzie Bear adult problems and hobbies boxed the character into a role that could only be enjoyed by adults. That's something Frank Oz has worked against his whole career in regards to Muppets or Sesame Street, as he said his mission was to make his performances accessible to all ages. That is to say, even if he was in a show geared towards children, he was actively avoiding pandering to them.
This means Frank Oz doesn't like it when the Muppets get too adult, but he also doesn't appreciate when they get overtly cute either. He specifically cited the 2011 movie in that regard which, while it did feature some things he enjoyed, Oz ultimately felt it wasn't a very good showing for the Muppets either.
Oof, that's some harsh words for Disney, especially when Frank Oz has provided the voice of a lot of characters for the company's projects over the years. Oz told the audience he may get in some trouble for his comments, although his grin either implied he was joking or he didn't care all that much whether it happened. Perhaps when you're one of the most prolific voice actors in Hollywood, being honest about companies you work for, regardless of the consequences, is one of the perks of the job.
The Muppets next project is happening on Disney+, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Frank Oz is tapped to be a part of it. For more on other works of Jim Henson returning to television, check out the classic work of his from back in the day that's making a comeback.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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