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The Independent Culture
It's time to put on make-up

Yes, it's time to light the lights once again as everyone's favourite solid-eyed felt amphibian, Kermit the Frog (below, at the Oxford Union), is going to be given a new lease of life. Last week Brian Henson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Jim Henson Productions, caused hearts everywhere to leap in ecstasy by announcing that The New Muppet Show is going into production. Thirteen half-hour episodes of the new series have been bought by American station ABC, to be broadcast in early 1996, and we can only suck our thumbs and hope that a British terrestrial company will follow suit. The show is described tantalisingly as "a Muppet Show for the millennium", the theatre of war this time being not a cabaret stage, but a local television station overrun by a frog, some pigs, assorted rats and a turkey. We're even promised the same sublime mix of comedy, music and frightened guest stars. Suddenly, life in the late 20th century looks bearable again. (Just as long as Fozzie's still around, that is.)

There can be only one

Sean Connery (right) may be getting slightly generous of jowl these days, but he shtill hash a voishe to kill for. And he puts it to good use this weekend in Highlanders (Sun 11.15pm ITV), a special one-hour documentary marking the 250th anniversary of Bonnie Prince Charlie's landing in the remote Hebridean island of Eriskay, and the start of the Jacobite rebellion. The film looks beyond Charlie's traditional glamour, taking a revisionist peek (as it were) under his sporran, and Connery narrates the action-packed events leading up to the disastrous battle at Culloden. The evil English forces crushed the heroic Scots, and the Highlanders have never forgotten the bitter fruit of their defeat. According to one movie, some of them got so mad they started chopping each other's heads off with broadswords. Christopher Lambert, eat your socks.

Why not murder them all?

As if you needed another reason to get Sky Television, what with all that live-as-you-like sport, all those European art movies, all those ground-breaking fly-in-space documentaries. Well, here's another, in any case. Sky, in cahoots with Auntie Beeb, have beaten off Channel 4 and ITV for the rights to the new Steven Bochco law series, Murder One, from the pen of the man who brought you Hill Street Blues, LA Law and NYPD Blue. It stars Daniel Banzali from The X-Files, and will be shown on Sky from January 1996, and on the BBC later on that year. The unique selling- point of this new creation, apparently, is that the whole 23-episode series covers just one murder trial. Did someone just say "OJ Simpson trial bandwagoneering"? Full marks, kid: Bochco admits to hoping that our insatiable appetite for wasting months of our so-called lives, by watching real-life soaps like Menendez and OJ, will spill over into his fictional alternative. Yet it's not as radical as all that: "I don't think you can do a pure, pure serial. People don't watch 23 hours. So we're going to have a 'B' story in every hour that's completely modular - a legal story that has a beginning, a middle and an end." Yep, the old ones are the safest. Can anybody spot the difference between NYPD and Hill Street anyway?

The New Avengers

This seriously looks like the best video ever. Avenger Penguins (Arena pounds 8.99 from Monday) is the brainchild of Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall, who created the most excellent Dangermouse (rhymes with Levi-Strauss, fact fans), and boasts three tales about the cute Harley-riding penguins (distant relatives of the real Arctic-dwelling birds, above right) that have become cult TV stars. Mike McShane brings his immense lungs to bear upon the part of the evil Caractacus P Doom, and the three world-saving penguins are way cool: they play heavy-metal guitar and do nuclear physics. Flap on, dudes.

Compiled by Steven Poole

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