The pop forecast
Miss Piggy, Kermit and the gang return to theatres,
Here is what’s on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.
Big release on Nov. 23: The Muppets
Big picture: You had us at the word Muppets. Jim Henson’s treasured creations aim to make a cultural comeback — both within the movie and within our world — in this new film that marks the return of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and the rest of their oddball gang. Co-starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, the story finds the manic, wise-cracking puppets reuniting for a telethon in order to save their old Muppet Theatre.
Forecast: In an age of Transformers, Lindsay Lohan, Jersey Shore and the mind-numbing Kardashians, we need something that entertains without exploding, imploding or over-exposing. It may not be easy being green, but we feel your pain, Kermit. Funny how a group of puppets made of felt and foam can feel far more real than many of our current human celebrities. A warm welcome back to “the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational” show on earth. This is what we call the Muppet show.
Honourable mention: Hugo. Martin Scorsese directs this familyfriendly story about an orphan living in a Paris train station in the 1920s, who is drawn into a visually stunning 3-D adventure. As one character says: “It’s Neverland and Oz and Treasure Island all wrapped in one.” Sure it is. But this is Scorsese, after all. My guess is the film ends with Hugo realizing the adventure was all in his head and he’s crazy and imprisoned on Shutter Island.
Big events: Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (Nov. 24, FOX, 8 p.m.); Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (Nov. 24, CTV, 8:30 p.m.)
Big picture: Get in the holiday spirit with two new Christmas specials. Ice Age is based on the successful film franchise. When Sid the sloth is convinced he’s on Santa’s naughty list, the prehistoric gang takes off for the North Pole to have a tête-à-tête with the Fat Man himself. Of course, a woolly mammoth in a toy shop is akin to a bull and china. After they accidentally destroy Santa’s workshop, its time for Sid, Manny and company to save Christmas. Meanwhile, the Peanuts crew returns to help Linus cope with the pending loss of his fuzzy childhood blanket.
Forecast: Ray Romano will again prove how much less annoying he is when playing an animated animal; Snoopy and Charlie will make you smile.
Honorable mention: Web Therapy (Nov. 22, The Movie Network, Movie Central). A special preview day, this series will be available free online at movienetwork.ca and moviecentral.ca, as well as on many cable subscribers’ video-on-demand services. Web Therapy stars Lisa Kudrow as an eccentric, narcissistic therapist who treats her parents in three-minute weekly webcam sessions. The cast of regular patients includes characters played by Jane Lynch ( Glee), Rashida Jones ( Parks and Recreation) and Courteney Cox. I assume Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer were asked to initial- ly help out their former Friend, but their fictional therapy sessions got a little “too real.” The series will begin airing regularly in early 2012.
Big releases on Nov. 22: Nickelback, Here and Now
Big picture: Critics love to hate them, but their many fans love to love them. Just in time to make Santa’s naughty list, Canada’s Nickelback returns with an all-new album. Their latest single, Bottoms Up, a power-chord-driven thumper devoted to drinking and debauchery, promises “Hell can’t handle all of us.” I agree. Spending eternity listening to the band would be too cruel — even for Hell. Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger has promised a heavier, more diverse album. To be fair, the single When We Stand Together offers a ballad that aims higher than the band’s usual “booze and bedding” lyrics, focusing on our wilful ignorance of war, famine and waste, and asks, “How can we fall asleep at night when something is clearly wrong?” I truly admire the sentiment (If only Kroeger had felt the same way about his music three or four albums ago). But true fans need not worry about Kroeger “going Bono.” With tracks on the album like Gotta Get Me Some and Midnight Queen, there’s still plenty to grunt about around the campfire. Sample lyric: “She’s gonna be my sex machine/ She’s gonna climb all over me.”
Forecast: The title Here and Now amuses me, because, every time Nickelback’s music plays, I want to be Somewhere Else and 30 Seconds Before the Song Started. But what do I know? The band has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide; I’ve sold zero.
The Muppets reunite for a telethon to save the Muppet Theatre.
Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger promised a heavier, more diverse album in Here and Now, but much of it is the same old ‘booze and bedding.’