I've noticed, and I'm sure you have too, a trend among many of the currently popular primetime television programs today: episodes where one or more of the show's cast is replaced with puppet caricatures and likenesses of the cast members.
30 ROCK had such an episode, "Apollo, Apollo", which originally aired March 26, 2009.
THE SIMPSONS had one, "The Fight Before Christmas", aired December 5, 2010.
CRIMINAL MINDS had one, "The Lesson", aired December 5, 2012.
COMMUNITY had one, "Intro to Felt Surrogacy", aired April 11, 2013.
And now, as I understand it, another popular show is getting ready to have its own puppet episode as well: GLEE. I could not be more mortified. You can says, "Haters gonna hate,", but if you ask me, GLEE is one of the worst shows on television: first of all, the creators insist the show is "different" and offers viewers a "change" from other shows on TV, but it's just more of the same kind of trash that's currently polluting the television atmosphere (the only "difference" is this being a musical series); speaking of which, the music is terrible... so many songs have been ruined for me (I honestly cannot even bring myself to listen to Bon Jovi's original version of "Living on a Prayer" anymore), the singing is absolutely grating and makes my skin crawl... yeah, you can say, "Oh yeah, can YOU do better"... no, I can't... I admit I can't sing, but at least I don't butcher songs by trying to do something I can't do; and this show's a... comedy? Really? Uh, I sure can't tell, it doesn't seem very comical to me (but then again, neither did THE OFFICE or DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES).
But, I'm driving myself off topic here, this post isn't about how terrible GLEE is, it's more about my concerns about popular shows doing puppet episodes like this. I feel that this little trend is something of a double-edged sword: on the one hand, puppetry is considered an underrated and underappreciated art form as far the general public is concerned, however, puppetry in general seems to be really hot and popular right now (especially with the long-awaited and several times delayed major comeback of The Muppets), so this is more or less a part of exploiting the current relevence and popularity of puppetry right now (also notice how there's so many puppet commercials on TV right now); on the other hand, my main worry is that this will end up becoming the same thing that 3D and sequels have become in recent times - overused gimmicks that people get sick of. That is one problem that the entertainment industry seems to have these days, when something becomes popular, suddenly, it has to be milked for all it's worth: James Cameron had a hit with AVATAR in 3D, and suddenly, almost every new movie that was released afterwards was in 3D... sequels? Don't even get me started on sequels. Could TV shows doing puppet episodes meet the same fate? Will it get to a point that so many TV shows do puppet episodes that viewers get sick of them? I hope not. I'd like to see puppetry enjoy some longevity on TV for the time to come, though at the same time, I kind of don't want to see puppetry on TV turning into nothing more than a gimmick that becomes overkill.