×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kermit’s Swamp Years

It isn't easy being green, let alone a middle-aged frog trying to win over new fans in a universe where the most recent TV puppets are Crank Yankers and Greg the Bunny. Still, one would think that the Kermit the Frog legacy is solid enough to resist the temptation to utilize tasteless sight gags. Apparently, it's not.

With:
Kermit the Frog - Steve Whitmire Croaker - Bill Barretta Goggles - Joseph Mazzarino Blotch - John Kennedy Dr. Krassman - John Hostetter

It isn’t easy being green, let alone a middle-aged frog trying to win over new fans in a universe where the most recent TV puppets are Crank Yankers and Greg the Bunny. Still, one would think that the Kermit the Frog legacy is solid enough to resist the temptation to utilize tasteless sight gags. Apparently, it’s not.

While Kermit and company don’t stoop to raunch, there is a measurable dip in taste and comedy from the days of “The Muppet Show.” How else can you explain not one but two shots of a frog mooning the camera?

In an apparent effort to modernize Kermit’s image, writers Jim Lewis, Joseph Mazzarino and director David Gumpel have gone back in time to give the beloved amphibian a new, hipper image with “Kermit’s Swamp Years.” Kermit, after all, is 46 years old: His TV debut was back in 1956 on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show.”

In this Starz! original family movie, Kermit is getting in touch with his inner tadpole by reminiscing about his formative years in the big swamp. Like all Hollywood autobiographies, his story is told in flashback as Kermit remembers the first time he and his friends Goggles and Croaker decided to explore the edge of the habitat.

Kermit, one of many brothers and sisters, longs for some kind of adventure beyond the confines of home. When a local pet store owner inadvertently captures Goggles and a bully of a bullfrog named Blotch, Kermit and Croaker hook up with a stray dog named Pilgrim in order to find their friend.

The elaborate action story is peppered with foreshadowing of Kermit’s showbiz future with the Muppets. At one point the group takes a short cut through a farm and Kermit encounters a feisty pig and quips, “I hope I never meet another one of those again!” Alas, we know he does.

The trio also receives help from a young animal lover by the name of Jimmy Henson, and later, when the three find themselves in a movie theater, they come across Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys from the balcony, only here, they are much younger and sport sideburns.

It turns out that Goggles, Blotch and the other frogs from the pet store are sold to the menacing Dr. Krassman (John Hostetter), who takes them to the local high school. Kermit and the gang follow only to discover the frogs will be part of a science lesson about dissection.

Sworn never to talk to humans, Kermit decides to break his oath to save his friend and the famous talking frog is born. Ironically, “Kermit’s Swamp Years” has very little to do with the swamp.

Instead, the movie is an elaborate and sometimes scary adventure that sporadically features Muppet insider jokes. While Muppet fans will appreciate the references, a ferocious looking alligator and a very disturbing story about dissection may scare newer and younger audiences. Similarly, misplaced double entendres and a bullfrog with a penchant for fistfights may put off parents.

Tape reviewed was a rough cut, although the live-action sequences, computer animation and puppeteering reinforce the high standards set by Jim Henson productions. Movie includes the fake outtakes that are now a standard of children’s movies as well as a surprising punk-like version of “Rainbow Connection.”

Kermit's Swamp Years

Starz! Family, Sun. Aug. 18, 6:30 p.m.

Production: Filmed in various locations by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment in association with Jim Henson Home Entertainment. Executive producers, Michael Polis, Jim Lewis; producer, Ritamarie Peruggi; director, David Gumpel; writers, Jim Lewis, Joseph Mazzarino.

Crew: Camera, Rufus Standefer; editor, Katina Zinner; music, Joe Carroll, Peter Thorn. 2 HOURS.

Cast: Kermit the Frog - Steve Whitmire Croaker - Bill Barretta Goggles - Joseph Mazzarino Blotch - John Kennedy Dr. Krassman - John Hostetter

More TV

  • Bong Joon Ho Talks 'Parasite' on

    'Parasite' Director Bong Joon Ho Makes Late Night Debut Following Three Globe Nominations

    “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho sat down for his first U.S. late-night appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Monday night. The director, who received best director and best original screenplay Globen Globe nominations with co-writer Han Jin Won, plus a best foreign language nod Monday morning, did not give much away about the film’s [...]

  • Batwoman -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths:

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Recap: The Return of Two Supermen and a World-Ending Plan

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two,” the “Batwoman” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. “Crisis on Infinite Earths” set a strong tone with its opener Sunday night, as the Anti-Monitor hurtling through space obliterated Earth-38 and claimed its first superhero victim in Oliver Queen aka [...]

  • Batwoman -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths:

    'Crisis on Infinite Earths' Team Talks Oliver's Fate and Batwoman's Big Move (Spoilers)

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two,” the “Batwoman” episode of the 2019 “Arrowverse” crossover. The second hour of the CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover killed off another iconic hero — but brought one back. After Oliver (Stephen Amell) sacrificed himself in event’s first episode, [...]

  • TV News Roundup: TBS Unveils 'Miracle

    TV News Roundup: TBS Unveils Trailer for 'Miracle Workers: Dark Ages'

    In today’s TV news roundup, TBS releases the first look at Season 2 of “Miracle Workers” and Netflix announces the premiere date for “Cheer.” CASTINGS:  Nickelodeon has called on comedian and writer Adam Conover to host its new family game show “The Crystal Maze.“ In the American rendition of the U.K. series, Conover will take [...]

  • Verve

    Verve Raises Assistant Salaries by Up to 40% in Response to Fair-Pay Movement

    Verve has announced a 25-40% pay increase for its assistants and mailroom employees in response to the #PayUpHollywood movement which has been shining a spotlight on the issue of assistant pay in the industry. The agency, which represents #PayUpHollywood co-founder Liz Alper and regular advocate John August, is also changing its hours to shorten the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content