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Kermit's Return: It's Not Easy

Starz! Family's Kermit's Swamp Years
should prove entertaining for youngsters, but their older siblings and parents might find the special slow going.

This coming-of-age comedy-adventure is a flashback to Kermit the Frog, Jim Henson's star Muppet, at age 12. Unfortunately, it's overly long at one hour and 15 minutes, and lacks the humor and imagination of the syndicated Muppet Show
and even some of the Muppets' theatrical films.

Director David Gumpel must bare the blame for the human performances – especially John Hostetter and Kelly Collins Lintz as Dr. Krassman and Mary, his ditzy assistant. Their overacting may prove annoying even for the special's small-fry audience.

Some songs also are thrown into the mix, only one of which stands out: "I Believe in You," cowritten and sung by Amanda Marshall.

The screenplay was written by Jim Lewis, who also serves as co-executive producer, and Joseph Mazzarino, who supplies the voice of Goggles, one of Kermit's childhood pals. Steve Whitmire voices Kermit, once voiced by the late Henson.

The message in story and song is, follow your dream. Before leaving their Florida swamp – actually in Orlando's Walt Disney World — Kermit and his pals wonder what it's like outside their world.

They soon find out when Blotch, a bullfrog bully, chases them onto the highway, where a human, Wilson, captures Goggles and Blotch and takes them to his pet shop.

As they search for their pals in the human world, Kermit and Croaker sneak into a movie theater, where an enthralled Kermit says, "I want to be in the movies!" Croaker replies, "The movies is no place for a frog."

Eventually Dr. Krassman, having failed to capture frogs in the wild, buys a batch captured by Wilson.

A dog named Pilgrim warns Kermit that the only thing a frog does in high school is "croak," as in die. Sure enough, Krassman turns out to be a high-school teacher who wants to dissect the frogs for biology class.

After the show's happy ending, there are supposed "outtakes" that are not all that funny.

Kermit's Swamp Years
airs on Starz! Family on Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m.