The Weekend’s TV: The Muppets and Lady Gaga at Christmas (Channel 5)

Gaga outshone by the sensational,  inspirational, celebrational Muppets

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The Independent Culture

Miss Piggy vs Lady Gaga: a diva battle for the ages, surely? Alas, The Muppets and Lady Gaga at Christmas on Channel 5 last night was a bit of a dry and under-stuffed turkey. The special guests numbered only four – the Muppets can usually rustle up more than that for a three-minute sketch – and Gaga herself seemed strangely out of sorts. No wonder it got bad ratings in its original US Thanksgiving slot.

A good 30 minutes of last night’s  75-minute show was taken up with live renditions of tracks from Lady Gaga’s current album. She writhed around on the piano stool, eyes bulging, like the long-lost daughter of Liberace and Peter Lorre. There’s no doubting this woman’s commitment to performance and I’m particularly enjoying the current Artpop incarnation. Those naysayers who criticised her X Factor gig in October, wouldn’t know a high-camp masterpiece if it sashayed on by and smacked them round the face with a feather boa. But then the problem was never Gaga on her own; the problem was Gaga interacting with anyone else.

Her duet of swing standard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so chilly it was frozen solid. Some women just feel more comfortable wearing raw meat than a conventional evening dress, apparently. Even her piano duet with Elton John lacked the easy chemistry you’d expect from two old showbiz chums. Perhaps she couldn’t make eye contact through the ring pulls of the fizzy drink cans she was wearing as sunglasses (because, why not?). I bet Elton John never thought he’d be upstaged in the silly specs department.

Thank goodness for the Muppets then, who, like the consummate showbiz professionals they are, stepped in to save the show with some brilliant backstage skits and an “outakes” reel: “Gonzo, what’s your favourite holiday memory?” asked Rizzo the Rat. “Oh, same as everybody else, putting tapioca in my shorts and sliding down the chimney.”