The Muppets Now finale debuted on Disney+ on Friday, but while fans expected plenty of Muppet insanity and laughs from the series that both draws classic The Muppets programs as well as makes fun of contemporary culture and social media, what they didn't expect was a stray VFX watermark left in the episode in what appears to be a significant post-production error -- one that's has left fans both divided and, in some cases, a bit upset.
On Twitter, user @cegoodman2 posted screen captures from the finale "Socialized" episode, specifically the "Lifesty(le) with Miss Piggy" segment of the show. Three times during the segment, which is a parody of influencer videos and lifestyle, the watermark for the trial of popular visual effects software FX Factory Pro appears. As the watermark is for the trial of the software, the implication is that Disney didn't even buy the license for the software, something that the Twitter user saw as further proof that Disney "doesn't care" about the Muppets.
"If I needed more proof that Disney doesn't care about The Muppets, the "Muppets NOW" finale provided it," they wrote. "Tonight's finale has the FX Factory Pro watermark pop up 3 times AND MADE IT TO THE PLATFORM. This license costs $300. Come on."
If I needed more proof that Disney doesn't care about The Muppets, the "Muppets NOW" finale provided it. Tonight's finale has the FX Factory Pro watermark pop up 3 times AND MADE IT TO THE PLATFORM. This license costs $399. Come on. pic.twitter.com/eQcDLEO3IX— Chuck (@cegoodman2) September 5, 2020
Several fans weighed in on the thread, noting that seeing the watermark was upsetting to them and took the opportunity to express how this is just the latest thing to let them down regarding the beloved Muppets -- including a few references to the new voice of Kermit, something fans expressed concern about even before the series' debut. However, some fans suggested that the watermark wasn't an editing miss at all and was, instead, part of a gag in the episode itself -- and idea that does have some merit.
Part of the premise of Muppets Now is that the show is put together by one Muppet -- Scooter -- with the rest of the Muppets sending him clips and segments to upload for the show. Scooter is frequently overworked and overwhelmed by some of the "cast" demands, but that's especially so in the finale. In "Socialized", Scooter is made co-moderator of the Muppets social media accounts which results in him being burdened with multiple notifications on said accounts while also trying to upload the content to make the show. With Scooter being so taxed, it's possible the watermark is meant to be a joke, a nod to the "amateur" aspect of the series as well as just how unprepared Scooter actually is.
Even if it makes sense, it still doesn't quite work. As a joke or a gag, it falls kind of flat as there's no actual payoff from it -- no one calls Scooter out or warns about the watermark after the fact -- and on top of that FX Factory Pro is real editing software. Utilizing it for a gag is very confusing. And, beyond the confusion and lack of payoff, if this isn't a gag and the watermark is real, the idea that it's the trial version -- not the licensed version -- that was used could create some legal issues. As some replies noted, it's entirely possible that the editors were using a fully licensed version of the software, but whoever did the final exports didn't have it activated at the time -- something that should have been caught in quality control before going to air.0comments
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