Answer: Neither of them. It’s a trick question.
So…this last Monday that just happened, there was a Pentatonix Christmas special on TV, and the report was that Kermit was going to make an appearance. I debated with myself about whether or not to watch it, and ultimately I compromised with myself that I would watch it, but only with the sound down and the captions on. And I hoped that Kermit would appear early on, because watching a musical program with the sound down didn’t really appeal to me.
(Although one of the first songs they sang was “Let It Snow,” which is a song I don’t really like because it seems like tempting fate, so I didn’t mind missing that one.)
Fortunately for me, the touted appearance happened right after the first commercial break. But it wasn’t at all what I expected:
So the first Muppet frog to appear is not Kermit but Constantine. “What’s going on here?” I wondered. “Are they trying to trick us into thinking that Constantine is Kermit? Is this a new wrinkle to the whole schismatic saga? Is this some sort of elaborate prank? Don’t we already have a different holiday for playing practical jokes?”
But then Kermit arrived on the scene and stood right next to Constantine, trying to work things out between him and Pentatonix.
And friends, even though I knew it couldn’t be Steve performing Kermit, I also knew that not even Matt Vogel is talented enough to perform Constantine and Kermit at the same time, so in a moment of weakness, I hoped against hope that somehow this particular segment of this particular special had been recorded over a year ago, or something. Even though I knew that it couldn’t be, I had to be sure that it wasn’t, and because my TV remote doesn’t work,* I leapt up from the couch to turn up the sound, annoying my cat in the process because she was sitting in my lap at the time.
Alas, I upset my cat for nothing; it was Matt as Kermit (well, Matt’s voice, and probably a stand-in puppeteer doing the manipulation).
Anyway, the point of the sketch is that Constantine tries to ruin Kermit’s reputation by stealing Pentatonix’s Christmas presents and framing Kermit for it. So I’m forced to wonder: what exactly was the underlying purpose of this benign-appearing little sketch?
Is this an attempt to quell fears that Matt’s playing Kermit will force him to abandon his other characters? An attempt to send a message that says: “See? Matt can do Kermit and his other characters too. Everything is great, everything is grand…everything is same as it ever was! Pay no attention to the man behind the virtual green curtain!”
If that was their game then, at least in my opinion, they failed miserably, because all it did was highlight how wonderful Matt is as Constantine and how…well, let’s be charitable and say how much work his Kermit still needs.
On the other hand–and forgive me if I’m reading too deeply into a silly little sketch–but I can’t help but draw a parallel between Constantine’s attempt to ruin Kermit’s reputation by framing him for theft and certain parties’ attempt to ruin Steve’s reputation by accusing him of being a difficult, demanding diva, etc. Perhaps this sketch was written by someone sympathetic to Steve, trying make a subtle satirical point about the absurdity of this entire situation.
In any case, eventually all is forgiven between Pentatonix and Constantine, and Kermit agrees to sing a holiday song with Pentatonix, with Constantine doing the “boom-booms” and threatening to whisk away my heart with his wicki-wicki-wicki‘s. So they all sing a rousing verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Which is fine–it’s lovely, of course–but before this special aired, I was sort of hoping that Pentatonix would have Kermit join them in a rendition of “Hallelujah.”
Now, you might well be saying, “But Mary, ‘Hallelujah’ isn’t a Christmas song!” Well, of course, I know that, and YOU know that…but Pentatonix apparently haven’t gotten the memo, because they released it on a Christmas album last year. And a sad song about broken dreams and disillusionment and the desecration of things that were once sacred is about the only thing I want to hear from a Kermit who–despite Matt’s good intentions and best efforts–is just not Kermit.
*Actually, I think the remote works fine; it’s that the TV no longer seems able to receive its signals.