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The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside

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As was so often the case with The Muppet Show, The Muppet CD-ROM: Muppets Inside opens with a bang, or, more accurately, a crash. When you first load the disc, a fiendishly convincing technical glitch traps Kermit the Frog and friends inside your computer, after which they ride a ”databus,” facing challenges that’ll lead them back to the real world. If that sounds a bit twee — even this longtime Muppets fan could take only so many references to ”cache machines” and ”cereal ports” — it’s more than made up for by the clever execution, which will have parents and kids fighting over the mouse the way Kermit and Miss Piggy mixed it up in Muppet Treasure Island.

Echoing The Muppet Show‘s vaudevillian format, Muppets Inside is an assortment of games starring what, for anyone over 18, is a nostalgic cast of characters. Among the attractions: ”Beaker’s Brain,” in which Dr. Honeydew and his chirping, orange-wigged assistant dare you to arrange video clips in the correct order; ”A Wocka on the Wild Side,” in which you intercept fruits and veggies launched by angry audience members against the hapless Fozzie Bear; and, my favorite, ”The Swedish Chef’s Kitchen of Doom,” a takeoff on you-know-what in which the unintelligible epicure wields whisks and eggbeaters against giant vegetables.

All of these can be adjusted to suit the coordination of the very young, and many reward success with clips from The Muppet Show, whose uniformly excellent quality serves as a reminder of why the new, watered-down Muppets Tonight has yet to catch fire. Here, even the boilerplate stuff’s hilarious. I defy any lawyer to keep a straight face as the Rat-torneys at Law, a group of rodents reminiscent of Babe’s field-mouse chorus, perform ”Roll Out the Notice (The Copyright Polka)” and the ”Coincidental Disclaimer Rap.” For that alone, this disc amply deserves a warm and Muppety A.