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Manhattan Melodies: The Quickest Re-Write EVER

March 11th, 2010 . by Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)

Tim Babb’s March Blog Madness: Day 11

In 1984, the final Muppet movie to feature Jim Henson was released. It was called “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” The story follows everyone’s favorite felt family as they go from college to New York to try and sell their play, “Manhattan Melodies” on Broadway (It is never explained how or why they write a play about Manhattan without ever stepping foot in New York…or how it could possibly be good, but more on that later). Since Broadway had a shortage of kiddie themed shows at the time (this was pre-Lion King or Beauty and The Beast), Kermit is able to sell the show.

“Yeah I just sold the show. What could go wrong?”

Unfortunately, right after Kermit sells the show he goes missing when he gets hit by a taxi and develops amnesia (which is much better outcome than what happens to MOST frogs when they get hit by cars). The rest of the cast and crew spend two weeks prepping the show and looking for Kermit. Finally it is opening night and Kermit (still with amnesia) somehow finds himself backstage at the show just before curtain time. Miss Piggy gives him a good karate chop and his memories come back (because that’s how that would work).

Still better medicine than Kaiser.

So they catch Kermit up on the fact that it’s opening night and it’s time to start the show. Kermit is hesitant because he says there’s still something “missing” form the show (oh…he’s been saying that the whole movie…did I forget to mention that? Ah well) They convince Kermit to go on anyway and on the way to the stage they pass a bunch of random Muppets (frogs, bears, chickens, etc) and Fozzie asks if they can watch the show from backstage and Kermit decided THAT is what has been missing, “More frogs, and dogs and bears..and whatever! You’re not gonna watch the show, you’re gonna be IN the show.” …and that brings me to the point of this blog.

“C’mon gang. You’re going to help tear open a plot hole! Yaaaay!!!

How in the world did Kermit re-work the script and give it to these new “actors” in time for them to learn their parts?! I mean Kermit makes this call LITERALLY on his way to the stage…seconds before the opening number! Then the open number is maybe 15 seconds long and BOOM…all these people who had no idea they were going to be in a play a minute ago are all of a sudden in costumes and singing and dancing like they’d been planning this for years.

“I can see how we planned this in less than a minute.”

And they have all these elaborate props and moving scenery…where did that come from? None of the original cast is in the second number? Did they have all that laying around? If so, this could perhaps be the best improv troupe EVER!

“Hey you use that cut out of a bus, I’m going to dress like a police officer and direct traffic.”

“we’re gonna put on these construction hats and put up this ‘Dogs At Work’ sign”

“Wow…lucky they were expecting some talking/singing dogs to come by the theater.”

“Every theater has this stuff, right?”

Then we jump to the finale, the wedding of Kermit and Piggy in a huge church set. No wonder Kermit thought something was missing. If it hadn’t been for all of those extra “actors” most of that church would be empty. That’s just poor set design. Why design a church that seats hundreds if your play has 11 actors in it? No wonder Broadway tickets are so expensive. Wasteful…just wasteful. Thank goodness Kermit was able to make that work with only a few moments of rational thought.

How are Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in the second row on the left if they are in the orchestra pit playing the music?

But lets put all that aside for a second. It’s a good thing that the film ends immediately after the play’s finale so we don’t see the audience riot and the Muppets get run out of town on a rail. From curtain up to the end of the play, Manhattan Melodies is 7 minutes and 32 seconds long. I know some guys out there have wished that Broadway musicals were that short…but it is not the case. Most Broadway shows are longer than the entire Muppets Take Manhattan movie.

Look out behind you , green guy…they’re coming with pitch forks!

But we’ll set length aside for a second as well…let’s focus on the “plot” of Manhattan Melodies. The play starts with a bunch of animals singing about how it’s great to be “together again.” Okay…but who are you and why weren’t you together before this? Do we get to find out? Nope! When the number ends they all disappear to reveal a busy Manhattan street where there is a breaking front page news story. What is that story? “Somebody’s Getting Married.”

I guess crime was on vacation that day

Yes, it is the slowest news day in the history of Manhattan…and perhaps the world. The entire city seems to be a buzz with the news that somebody’s getting married. Now I could see if a pig and a frog were getting married that it might make a few heads turn, but they don’t say that…they just repeat “somebody.” It’s almost as though the identity of the soon-to-be married couple is a mystery. But then the play takes a dramatic turn when…they get married. That’s it. Curtain down. Thanks for coming. Drive safe. Man, if you thought Mama Mia wasn’t compelling, you are gonna gouge your eyes out at this “story.”

“You were right…I would have rather watched Legally Blonde”

So I guess after this, the show closes. Which I guess is good since most of those extra “actors” wouldn’t necessarily be available for an extended run. So that would have been awkward. But hey…at least they lived their dream and performed on Broadway…for one night.

Despite all this…Muppets Take Manhattan is STILL my favorite Muppet movie! Thus proving something doesn’t have to make sense to be awesome!

13 Responses to “Manhattan Melodies: The Quickest Re-Write EVER”

  1. Alissa (TANcast's #1 Female Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    yea I said it.

  2. VrejNo Gravatar Says:

    this movie is actually a prequel to the show. They use the momentum of the musical to get their name into the theater business. They move to a predominately muppet populated town and set up shop by renting a theater of their own and the rest is history. By the way that town is very close to Sesame Street.

  3. Jess (Muppets #1 Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    Vrej, is that true? If so that would be an awesome bit of back story I have never heard. Makes sense.

  4. Ryan RoeNo Gravatar Says:

    This cracked me up. Brilliant observations all around.

  5. LoganNo Gravatar Says:

    Tim starting with the rewrite of the show. What you fail to realize is every puppet is actually just some felt and pingpong balls, so while kermit is out on stage with some hand up his backside, the guys under the stage are using their other good hand to rewrite the show. Same goes for the other muppets, they all have those other hands busy at work creating new props.

    Now for the length of the show. Wouldn’t you think if they come out all fast paced and do a show that full of awesomeness it would only need to be a couple minutes long? That means it leave the audience (who are actually all muppets themselves and in on it) wanting for more. Newspapers and Critics go crazy raving how original and exciting the show is. So exciting no one ever realizese its the worlds shortest broadway production.

    Now on to the newpaper headline. The title was vague enough to make you go on for about two paragraphs wondering who is getting married, there for it did its job and sold a ton of papers because everyone was going “Somebody is getting married?” Who is it? I don’t know, do you know, I have to know, lets find out!

    The chapel was originally a set in a judges office, but as said before those second hands not busy running the puppets had to do a rush job and build that set as well during the 7 minute show. Needless to say the unions were pissed.


  6. TonyNo Gravatar Says:

    You know, if you had seen The Blues Brothers, then all of this would make sense.

  7. Tim Babb (TANcasts #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    I’m going to go ahead and call shenanigans on that comment, sir 😉

  8. Tony (TANcasts #1 Blues Bros. Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    Can’t do that if you haven’t seen the movie.

    It COULD help it make sense.

    It DOES have Frank Oz in it. 😉

  9. Peter SavieriNo Gravatar Says:

    Also: Who was Piggy going to marry before Kermit reappeared and regained his memory?

  10. BradNo Gravatar Says:

    The show features a very unique set for the closing number. The distinctive set, which is of a church, has four full walls surrounding the sanctuary. This unique set design completely encloses the actors from the paying audience’s view.

  11. Tim Babb (TANcasts #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    So true, Brad. I actually thought of that as well but the blog seemed long as it was.

  12. DeanNo Gravatar Says:

    OK, my DVD purchases will STOP after the original movie

  13. Tim Babb (TANcasts #1 Host/Editor Fan)No Gravatar Says:

    WHAT?! Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, and Muppet Christmas Carol are all FANTASTIC! (Muppet Treasure Island is fun too, but I know not to put it on the same level as the first 4)

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