Look and Listen

Five members of Pentatonix on stage
Still of Pentatonix from The Sing-Off 3.11 © 2011 NBCUniversal. Photo: Lewis Jacobs.

Well, America got it right in voting Pentatonix winners of this year’s edition of
NBC’s The Sing-Off. I was a bit bummed that just about everybody turned in sub-standard performances on Monday night’s live finale, when presumably viewership would get a bump from Dancing with the Stars’ absence; maybe it was the lack of pressure, since voting was already closed, but more likely the crazy rehearsal schedule and holiday weekend are to blame. Friends who finally tuned in after hearing me rhapsodize about Pentatonix, Afro-Blue, and Urban Method have my apologies.

I complained in a post last month about the judges’ surprising (to me) preference for certain groups over others — on the whole, traditional large university-based ensembles beating out more inventive, idiosyncratic but clearly cooler combos. Not that a cappella is all about being “cool”, nor that I have an inherent dislike of the collegiate model; quite the opposite, in fact.

Muppet Monday

Since my review of the new Muppets film isn’t done, I offer snippets of songs from the movie.

Jason Siegel, Amy Adams, and Walter in front of a veritable wall of familiar Muppets, including Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Animal, Gonzo, Beaker, and Scooter

The scene in which Camilla the Chicken and friends sing — well, bwawk — the hit single known politely as “Forget You” is a showstopper. At my screening the audience was laughing raucously the entire length of the bit. While the clip on DisneyMusic’s YouTube channel [1:50] incorporates other footage (and inserted audio) from the film, in the movie itself the scene is center-stage, uncut, and much the funnier for it.

Muppet Monday

Jason Segel was joined by the Muppets in his monologue this weekend on Saturday Night Live. The real highlight, though, was Kermit the Frog showing up during Weekend Update to join anchor Seth Meyers in one of my favorite recurring segments in all of SNL. Ladies and gentlemen: Really!?! with Seth & Kermit. Yaaayyy!!!

Kermit the Frog and Seth Myers in conversation at 'Weekend Update' desk.
Screencap © 2011 NBCUniversal Media.

I must say that Kermit oversold it at times, but at least they let the follow-up to the “sausage casings” line go with relative subtlety.

Related: Emerald Sit-In Muppet Monday (Oct. 17th) All Right
for Typing
Muppet Monday (Dec. 12th) Oliver and Company

If You Meta the Batman, Kill the Batman

The seemingly paradoxical nature of the Zen koan adapted for this post’s title is reflected in its subject: Friday night’s series finale of Batman: The Brave and
the Bold

Bat-Mite sitting at a laptop with 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' on the screen
Screencap from “Mitefall” © 2011 Warner Bros. Animation. Characters TM/® DC Comics.

I expect that fans who loved the series loved the episode, “Mitefall”, whose title is a reference to Bat-Mite, the magical imp who appeared regularly in the often-goofy Batman comics of the early 1960s, and to Knightfall, the grim-’n’-gritty Batman storyline of the early 1990s. (A Mitefall one-shot parodying that era was published in 1995.) It spotlights many of the show’s most popular traits and co-stars B:TBATB’s breakout version of Aquaman — less rooted in past depictions of DC’s sea king than in his pompous Marvel counterpart Namor the Sub-Mariner, with a big nod to Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Muppet Thursday

While I ended my last post on an almost reverently expectant note, I’ll admit to harboring a certain amount of dread that The Muppets will turn out to be unfulfilling or, worse, offensive in some way to its heritage. No matter how satisfying it may be on the whole it can’t help but lack an essential ingredient.

Bert, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Ernie, and Kermit huddled together reading script pages in TV studio in front of photo of Jim Henson

Of course, I’m speaking about Jim Henson — who invented the Muppets, performed Kermit the Frog among many others (Rowlf the Dog, as much his alter ego as the little green dude, included), and guided a sublimely creative, colorful enterprise for decades.

Muppet Tuesday

Next Wednesday The Muppets will be released by Walt Disney Pictures. I figure
that, since the countdown to the film was the impetus for this series of Muppet memories and memoranda, now is a good time to share looks at the numerous posters and links to the various trailers produced to date.

Muppet Monday

I’m very sorry that this post is going up late. And I realize that there was no Muppet Monday installment at all last week, although I’ll try to make it right by doubling up on them soon. What can I say? Accidents happen. Things fall apart. If you don’t believe
me, ask the cast of that hit musical Spider-Monster... [1:21]

Grover, the fuzzy blue Muppet with big pink nose wearing a Spider-Man costume, including half-face mask, posing with arms out and mouth open against painted city backdrop

Related: No-Spin Zone  G Love Muppet Monday On a Boat
The Amazing Spider-Man Minus Andrew Garfield Plus Garfield

Jobs Report

I hadn’t entered The Late Show with David Letterman’s online Top Ten contest
[dead link] for several months before doing so this week. As usual, I threw in a couple of options that weren’t stellar along with my personal favorite(s), because you never know what will ring the bell of whomever makes the selections. Even though I didn’t submit very many, there was a winner among my...

Top Five Surprises in the Steve Jobs Biography

5. He slipped Bill Gates’ barber a fifty every month for 30 years.

4. But for the flip of a coin, he’d have been wearing black pants and a denim turtleneck every day.

3. His kids had to show him how to program the VCR.

2. Ironically, he got the idea for the Apple when a book about Isaac Newton hit him on the head. (Think about it, people!)

And the Number One Surprise in the Steve Jobs Biography...