Yes! The Muppets are back, and they’re better than ever. Fresh off two new movies that had them roaring back into pop culture, the team has gotten back together for a new TV show. And there is a show within that show. Pretty meta for a show about talking puppets.
Here are some thoughts on the premiere.
1.It’s part The Newsroom, part The Office, part The Larry Sanders Show, part… well, The Muppets
There are Aaron Sorkin-esque sequences of walking and talking, talking head interviews intercut with two-faced dialogue (as Gonzo pointed out), and a self absorbed show host with a stressed out show runner. It’s a real treat to watch the show take successful elements of other television shows and meld it into something that feels entirely new. There’s an embrace of the new tech culture and TV tropes while still being true to the Muppets slapstick, silly roots.
2.This is not a kids show
There are jokes about sex, masturbation, bestiality and numerous other untoward subjects of conversation that may make some parents uncomfortable. Watch with your children at your own risk.
3. Also, it’s hilarious
A lot of it is basic slapstick, but it’s so well done that I laughed every time. There’s also an abundance of clever word games. The band Imagine Dragons is playing on Miss Piggy’s show and one of the rockers says “You know, their name use to be Imagine Dragons.” to which someone replies, “…it still is.” “I know,” she says. “They kept it.” It’s ridiculous stuff like this that make the show feel fresh. It doesn’t try to be highbrow and if it is, it is totally unforced.
4. The conceit of all the characters having jobs on the show is great
Sam the Eagle is the standards and practices guy. Bobo is the stage manager. Gonzo is a writer. Fozzie is the warm-up act. Kermit is the executive producer. It’s a great way to introduce us to this world and a good way to give every character something to do. If every one on the show has a job, there are built in stories that the show can fall back on. It’s kind of brilliant.
5. There is genuine pathos
There’s a scene near the end where we actually see Kermit and Miss Piggy break-up. When Piggy realizes what’s happening, she looks genuinely shocked and heartbroken. There is no irony. It’s played totally straight, and the emotion that comes from watching these puppets is strangely disarming. It’s a testament to the strength of the show and these characters that we can have a genuine emotional response to a bunch of felt puppets fighting with each other.
6. There are fewer celebrity cameos than I expected
Elizabeth Banks. Tom Bergeron. Imagine Dragons. I think that’s it? I would have expected more for our Muppets friends. Perhaps there will be more as the series progresses.
7. It’s very well written
As most of you probably know by now, Miss Piggy and Kermit have broken up and Kermit is now dating an executive with NBC. Who is also a pig. Going into the show with this knowledge made watching it all the better. It makes it feel as if this is really just a fly on the wall documentary of the Muppets as they do their show. It worked for The Office. Why not an internationally recognized group of beloved puppets?
8. Ohhh, poor Tom Bergeron!
He got bumped. And nobody likes him. Poor guy.
9. Well. It’s going to be heavily serialized
We end the episode without any sort of resolution for Kermit and Piggy. Sure, they agree to be professional with each other, but there is no quick make up or confession of how they really feel about each other (duh, they’ll get back together). This all implies that we are going to get a show that follows stories over many episodes. At this point, it really does seem like The Office is going to be a big influence on this show. And if the pilot is any indication, that seems like a pretty good idea.
10. Excellent first episode
I am very surprised at the quality of the pilot. It seems like there is going to be a real emphasis on writing and character development, two things sorely lacking in the TV landscape. Leave it to the Muppets to bring back quality TV that isn’t about cops or cooking meth. Well done, my puppet friends.
Tags: fozzie, gonzo, imagine dragons, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Muppets