the muppets. so we’re now a few episodes into Henson’s triumphant return to the small screen. and I’m starting to feel it.
By Robert Graves
The Muppets need no introduction. They’ve tackled TV before. They been to space, taken Manhattan, and been to Treasure Island, and have one of these most popular (if not best) Christmas movies of all time. The Muppets have even been babies, in a long forgotten cartoon that I suddenly just remembered. OH! And how about keeping us off of drugs!
And then they were gone. The passing of Jim Henson was a great loss to the world. His company lives on with the Henson children at the helm. But while the company maintains character rights, Disney is now owner of the Muppets. In 2011 Jason Segel and James Bobin pulled off what turned out to be an amazing Muppet return to the big screen. Not without its conflicts though, with Frank Oz notoriously walking away from the project.
Finally we arrive at 2015. The Muppets (the muppets.) are part of ABC’s new line up and so far its been a mixed bag of results. the muppets want you to know that everything is business as usual. The show picks up mid sentence, as all your favorite characters are back working on Miss Piggies late night talk show. “Oh good,” you might say to yourself, “the Muppets are back doing variety shows! Just what I remembered and loved about the original series!”. Nope. The new show is part of the ‘mockumentary’ genre, such as The Office (the office) or probably Parks & Rec. Honorable mention to Arrested Development although its not the same.
Speaking of ‘the same but different’ , the familiar cast is back…but not quite as you remembered them. All of the characters you know and love still have the same thoughts, memories, and to some extent expressions as you remember. But they aren’t the same. Kermit and Piggy are still similar enough, though you’ll find out early on that they are no longer romantically involved and Kermit is dating a new pig. The writers showcase this is a very indelicate and mature way that breaks the ice by smashing through it. “Remember the Muppets? Yeah well FUCK YOU!” is probably carved into wall above the writers door. I don’t mind the new perspective so much, but there was definitely a better way to handle it. If you’ve read any reviews about the few episode or two, you’ve seen the backlash.
The characters, while familiar/unfamiliar are now focused into in-depth back stories. Its a neat idea if you wanna find out how big of a dork Scooter is (really?) or how big a ladies man Rizzo is (duh). There are lots of obscure characters here as well. Chet the IT guy is absolutely creepy and absolutely hilarious. His episode has been by far my favorite this season.
Lots of celebrities grace the stage as well. Lawrence Fishburn antagonizes Kermit, Riki Lindhome dates Fozzy, Christina Applegate and more appear on the show as guests. Chelsea Handler stops by AND is palatable.
The writers and producers get it though. This isn’t the Muppets you knew. These are the Muppets as they have moved on. They’re older and they’re wiser. In a very poignant scene, Kermit realizes he has strayed a bit far from his roots and converts his swimming pool in a swamp. As he sings “Rainbow Connection” while playing his signature banjo, we’re reminded of Muppets past. When he finishes by getting into a screaming match with his neighbor about keeping it down, we’re reminded that nothing gold can stay.
The season isn’t quite over but The Muppets (the muppets.) is shaping up to be a show worth watching. If you can get yourself through the first episode or so, which you should try, you might find yourself falling in love with this new class.