NEW SHOW SPOTLIGHT

No one wanted ABC’s reboot of The Muppets to succeed more than I do.  I was 11 years old when the original Muppet Show debuted on primetime TV, and while I was clearly too old to still be watching Sesame Street, that Muppet Show fit perfectly into the variety show mania of the time, dovetailing with successful shows like Flip Wilson, Sonny and Cher and The Carol Burnett Show.

And therein lies the problem with the 21st century reboot. The Muppets had no trouble smartening up their message for a PG rated song and dance show that was the entertainment of the time, but the current to effort to portray them as a “show within a show” a la Aaron Sorkin or as a complex relationship comedy like Girls is just too much of a stretch.

Instead of being a cute and funny show adults can enjoy with their kids, The Muppets comes across as just a little too creepy – which pig is Kermet dating this week? Yuck.

GUESS WHAT’S COMING?

I was absolutely thrilled to learn that in January of 2016, Syfy Channel would be premiering The Magicians, a weekly series based on the book by the same name by Lev Grossman.  If you never the book or its sequel The Magician King, here’s your chance, and here’s a quick primer.  Imagine an American Harry Potter, only instead of school age children they’re college students in, say, Ithaca, New York.  Once they graduate, they use magic to get themselves a cool party pad in Manhattan and live the fast life.  Then they discover a portal to a Narnia-like world that takes them on an epic adventure while they simultaneously cope with their dangerous choices in the every day world.  Sound cool as all hell?  I’m not overselling, that’s exactly how the book reads, and the similarities to classic fantasy are intentional homages.  The story, however, is completely original and enthralling.

I checked out the credits from some of the people on the production team and saw quality programming like The Americans and Supernatural.  I hope that means this show will be a breakout hit for Syfy Channel, but even if it isn’t, this is your chance to read a pair of excellent books that will quickly find its way onto your all-time favorites list.  Trust me on this one.

If you like Tolkein, J.K. Rowling and Bright Lights Big City, you should check out The Magicians.

EDUCATIONAL TV

Things we learned from TV this week:  1)  Santa is labor, not management (Fresh Off The Boat): 2) Antonin Scalia says blacks would do better in slower track schools, however, the only black person Antonin Scalia knows is Clarence Thomas (The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore).

 

LOOKING AHEAD

I’m putting away the Clicker until after the New Year when there’ll be a fresh crop of midseason premieres and debuts.  In the meantime, look for my annual “Most List” at the end of the month.  See you then!

 

TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet.  Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on?  Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email:  [email protected]  I welcome your input!

 

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