As might be best shown by anticipation post about the Muppet Show, I was incredibly excited when the announcement came out that there would be a new Muppet show. In fact, I think I looked something like this:
Besides my long-lasting and undying love for the Muppets, I was excited about the prospect for a new TV show because the Muppets, especially recently, have been much more successful in short form. I highly enjoy the Muppet movies, even the ones that often get passed over, but sometimes holding together a 90+ minute narrative while still exhibiting the joy, whimsy and craziness that the Muppets embody is incredibly difficult.
In fact, the popularity of some short videos a few years ago helped push the Muppets back into the public consciousness. These included a fantastic rendition of Ode to Joy, several visits with the Swedish Chef ,and the biggest hit, Bohemian Rhapsody:
Leading up to the premiere of The Muppets, they have been releasing a ton of content to get ready. Some of these have been especially Disney-centric, with dramatic readings of popular attraction songs:
We also knew kind of what the new show would be like from the full upfront video that ABC released after popular demand at San Diego Comic Con.
Which brings us to the show itself, called simply “The Muppets” and Tuesday nights episode, called “Pig Girls Don’t Cry (Pilot).” In this iteration of the Muppet universe, Miss Piggy hosts a late night show called “Up Late with Miss Piggy,” which is Executive Produced by Kermit. The rest of gang is there, including the Electric Mayhem as house band, Fozzie as warm-up comedian and announcer, Bobo as stage manager, Scooter as, well Scooter, Sam the Eagle as a network standards representative, and even Statler and Waldorf now as permanent wise-cracking members of this audience.
Besides the Miss Piggy’s show itself, the set-up for “The Muppets” is the same documentary style as seen in shows like “The Office,” allowing for behind the scenes footage and interviews. As the show begins, everyone is just moving along within this universe – it isn’t set up as any sort of origin story (of which the Muppets have had many) or a reunion, like the Jason Segel reboot.
The main plot points of the pilot include Miss Piggy rejecting Elizabeth Banks as a guest, and Fozzie trying to impress his girlfriend’s parents (she is played by Riki Lindhome of Garfunkel & Oates fame). Within that framework, we see sketch ideas in the writer’s room, morning rundowns with the staff, attempts to find other guests, and general preparation for the show itself.
We also meet Kermit’s new girlfriend, Denise, who is also a pig. A lot was made of the Kermit and Piggy break-up in the months before the premiere, although long-time fans of the Muppets will remember all of the times they have broken up and gotten back together, so I would imagine that will be one of the running tensions throughout this show.
Although like many pilots it has a few rough spots, overall, I think this show has a lot of promise. Among other things, for fans of the Muppets it’s nice just to see all of those characters walking around in the background. With the set-up of a late night show, they have the perfect opportunity to bring in cameos and musical guests, and seeing a wide range of celebrities interact with them has always been one of the most fun parts of the Muppets (besides Elizabeth Banks, this episode also featured Tom Bergeron and Imagine Dragons in this capacity).
The creators have also captured much of the spirit of the Muppets, whether that be the off-handed one-liners, or simply the understanding that the Muppets were originally created to give to adults what Sesame Street gave to kids.
I am looking forward to seeing where they take this show, and hope you also give it a chance. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
What did you think of the pilot episode of “The Muppets”?