A woeful collection of musicvideos strung together by the charming presence of Jim Henson’s Muppets plus a storyline about putting on a TV show at Radio City Music Hall doesn’t say anything to adults and not much to youngsters. Program with songs dredged from “Sesame Street’s” 30-year run recalls Jimmy Durante’s pointed question about “The show must go on!” tradition: “Why?”
Jon Stewart, supposedly hosting a badly organized show-within-a-show being mounted at Radio City Music Hall, gets locked in his dressing room, so Muppet Elmo takes over as his replacement. Primetime spec shows the likes of Kermit the Frog (too briefly), Big Bird (enough), Two-Headed Monster and the Cookie Monster cavorting as they try mounting the program, which consists of the flimsy, disconnected videos.
Host Elmo (voiced almost unintelligibly by co-exec producer Kevin Clash) gives the intros for the videos of the tunes originally heard on “Sesame Street” while cast members try getting Stewart out of his dressing room. Muppet Grover in an unfunny seg acts as a limo chauffeur who gets his passengers lost, and Rosie O’Donnell guest sings “Nearly Missed” without much panache, since none is lying around.
Tom J. Astle and Joey Mazzarino penned the loose, juve script, with occasional guests like Conan O’Brien, Richard Belzer and Chris Rock stepping in for no particular reason.
An affable David Alan Grier moves about as the stage manager; he’s the program’s chief asset. The music’s ho-hum, the up tunes frantic and humdrum. Shawn Colvin riding in a convertible does a decent interp of “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” while Gloria Estefan tries energizing “Mambo, I, I, I,” a flimsy, energetic number even Estefan can’t make interesting.
Kenny Loggins performs a pleasant enough “One Small World.”
Tom Trbovich directed the insistently lighthearted effort. The late Henson’s magic touch might have given the hour musical direction and substance.
And, sadly, the Muppets’ star-of-stars isn’t around to spark the spec — Miss Piggy helps any cause.