Classics, Comedy, Television

Tom Wopat in: The Muppet Show

as: “Very Special Guest Star Tom Wopat”

We’re not gonna lie: we dig the Muppets almost as much as we dig Tom Wopat. They’re basically the most wonderful of all human creations; Watch anything Muppet related and you’re guaranteed to enjoy the entire experience—some of their efforts are not as excellent as others, but there’s not an out and out dud in the bunch. And, The Muppet Show is legitimately one of the Top Five all-time greatest television programs. All-time.

muppet-show

One small addition is all it would take to put The Muppet Show at Number One: Tom Wopat.

The Wopat Show

From September 1976 to March 1981, The Muppet Show produced 120 episodes of brilliant comedy television. Each episode featured a “Very Special Guest Star”—the first (in the 1974 pilot episode) was Mia Farrow; the last was Marty Feldman of Young Frankenstein fame. In between were a mixed bag of actors, musicians, athletes, and other celebrities—from Julie Andrews to Liberace to Jonathan Winters.

The Dukes of Hazzard began in January of 1979, a prime overlapping time with The Muppet Show’s run. Dukes was a very popular program, and its two leads (Wopat and John Schneider) were among the most recognizable stars on TV. Both actors were also musicians as well as actors. Ergo, they’re a perfect one-two punch for a turn as double guest-hosts of The Muppet Show.

Representative Scene

“The Muppets do The Dukes of Hazzard” is one of the best ideas ever, if we do say so ourselves. Wopat and Schneider would play themselves, “guest starring” on “The Pigs of Hazzard”. Miss Piggy would play Daisy Duke (or Daisy Pig); Link Hogthrob and Dr. Julius Strangepork from “Pigs in Space” would play Bo and Luke Pig, respectively; the Boss Hogg part, called the Hogg Boss, would be played by a new Muppet similar to the Spa’am character that later appeared, much to the chagrin of Hormel Foods, in Muppet Treasure Island; Sherriff Roscoe Pig Coltrane would be played by Sweetums.

After a brief, Muppetized spoof of The Dukes of Hazzard theme song, Wopat and Schneider would be enjoying a cold beverage at The Boar’s Nest where, just like on Dukes, Daisy/Piggy is a waitress. Miss Piggy is chatting up the guest stars, who are seated a booth. Roaring engines, followed by screeching tires, would be heard from outside, and Bo and Luke Pig would come dashing in. They make a beeline for the booth and sit down opposite Wopat and Schneider. “What in the world is going on?” Piggy asks.

Before the Pig Boys can reply, Hogg Boss and Roscoe run into the bar, shouting. “Where are you at, you rascals?” Sweetums/Roscoe bellows. “Come on out, Pigs, you can’t hide from the long arm of the law!”

Roscoe and Hogg Boss stop in front of the booth, astounded. “Oh my,” grunts Hogg Boss, “there are two of them?” He and Roscoe are genuinely confused—they can’t tell the Pigs of Hazzard and the Dukes of Hazzard apart. This leads to a series of traditionally Muppetastic jokes, riffing on the Pigs/Dukes’ adversaries inability to distinguish between the pig Muppets and the real live humans.

Finally, Hogg Boss and Roscoe decide to arrest all four of them. Miss Piggy takes both of them out with a double karate chop, and Wopat, Schneider, and the Pigs Boys flee the bar. An engine roars to life outside, followed by squealing tires. The front of the Pigs of Hazzards’ bright orange hot rod, “The Generally Speaking”, crashes through the wall of the bar and into frame.

“Maybe you should drive,” Bo Pig says to Wopat.

And… scene.

Photo credit: Jacob Whittaker via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Original Wopatizations

Mechanic: Titanic – An Original Wopatization

From Alien vs. Predator to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, people sure love them some movie mashups these days. You know what else moviegoers can’t get enough of? Tom Wopat. With those two facts in mind, and stupid rhyming title that combines one of the highest-grossing movies of all time and a relatively obscure Jason Statham flick, we present our latest original Wopatization: Mechanic: Titanic.

Inspirato

The Mechanic was a 2011 action movie in which bald, mushmouthed British guy Jason Statham plays a hitman who specializes in making his hits look like accidents. That’s literally all you need know about the movie for our purposes here. Titanic was a g.d. cultural phenomenon that played in theaters for over a year. If you don’t know the movie Titanic, or at least know of it, go watch it and come back later. It’s not that great overall, but the second half is pretty solid. Although, come to think of it, for this bit to make sense, you really only need to know the story of the actual Titanic, as in the “unsinkable” ship. Still, go watch Titanic and we’ll see you in like three-and-a-half hours.

A Brief Summary of the Plot Synopsis

In Mechanic: Titanic, Tom Wopat takes on the assassin role. Obviously, because the Titanic sailed and sank in 1912, this is a prequel to Statham’s Mechanic (which itself is a remake of a 1972 movie of the same name starring Charles Bronson).

Wopat’s murder mark is Cal Hockley, the cocky young heir to an international steel empire played by Billy Zane in lil’ Jimmy Cameron’s 1997 Titanic flick. Wopat stows away on the ship before it launches, sneaking aboard just behind Leo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson. (Mechanic: Titanic, like Back to the Future Part II and others before it, would superimpose the actors into the background of footage from the previous film.)

Hockley, it seems, is a very high-priced target. His father, MacGilvaray Hockley, heads the world’s second-largest steel company. The real-life man behind the world’s largest (at the time) steel company, Andrew Carnegie, is, in the film, the one who hires Wopat to off Hockley. Hockley Steel is growing fast and nipping at Carnegie’s heels…and overheads. Carnegie hopes that the “accidental” death of his son will lead MacGilvaray Hockley into a grief spiral that will lead his company to collapse.

The budget for this one's a little lower than that of Cameron's.

The budget for this one’s a little lower than what Cameron had to work with.

Carnegie pays Wopat’s character to assassinate young Hockley by any means necessary. The price is $5 million, an unheard of sum for hitmen now, let alone over a century ago. Wopat states that, in the (relatively) enclosed space of the Titanic, there are likely to be additional casualties—that is, Wopat might have to kill a few more people because it would be very likely that someone else would see him going about his work. He can’t have any witnesses, so anyone who espies him in the act will have to be killed, as well.

Carnegie replies that, for each additional bystander Wopat is forced to do in, he’ll add another $50,000 to his fee. Though he is hesitant about almost certainly having to kill innocent people, the offer is far too good to resist, and he agrees.

The night before he embarks on his mission, Wopat eats dinner with his even-more-shady friend, Greasy Pete. (You’d think the name would be a dead giveaway that the guy’s a ne’er-do-well, but whaddaya gonna do?) Greasy Pete convinces Wopat that, with over 2,000 people onboard the Titanic, he could really clean up. If Wopat sank the boat and killed everyone on board, along with Hockley, Pete says, he’d end up almost as rich as Carnegie himself.

Wopat boards the Titanic with the intention of sinking the ship via mechanical failure and making his escape via lifeboat. So he doesn’t find himself floating on the ocean for who knows how long before rescue arrives, he decides to wait until the cruise has almost reached its destination. On the night of April 14, he sneaks into the engine compartment and secretly shuts down one of the ship’s three gargantuan engines. He opens a maintenance hatch, quickly removes the turbine pump wear rings, and puts everything else back in order. This, Wopat’s character reasons, will cause the engine to overheat, gradually reaching a dangerous temperature, and, because this is a movie, exploding in a violent fireball.

He moseys casually out of the engine room, passing the foreman’s desk as he goes. On the desk is a framed photograph of the foreman and his family, with eight young kids smiling back at Wopat from behind the glass. Realizing that he’ll be destroying thousands of lives and, even worse, families in his pursuit of sweet, sweet money, he has a change of heart and goes about putting the engine back together.

However, he never gets the chance, because iceberg! The film then ends pretty much the same way Titanic does, but with Tom Wopat and no Kate Winslet.

Photo credit: RON1EEY via Foter.com / CC BY-ND