Mitchell Stein- When it comes to the new Muppet series, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground on this new Muppet show. It seems either folks will love it or rip it to shreds. Admitting that this is a fairly odd setting to see the Muppets in, I think it’s a really bold new ambition for the Muppets to take on. I think the Muppets have tapped into their new format rather well so far, and as with every show, it will grow over time and only rise in quality.
That being said, this episode feels like another example of how the Muppets are still finding their footing in The Muppets. The mockumentary format is still so new and unlike anything the Muppets have ever done but they’re doing a great job in the meantime. In many ways, The Muppets has an advantage over The Muppet Show, because no longer are the Muppets confined to the limits of The Muppet Theater or even a single guest star. The camera movement is so dynamic, and every setting makes the Muppets seem as real as ever in the real world. Giving the Muppets this fourth dimensional setting breaks down so many barriers previously set, opening an endless amount of plotlines.
Hostile Makeover is only the second episode of the series, and it’s already entirely different than the first episode. I think that’s great because it clearly shows that this series will be something new and fresh every week. The Muppets are constantly be going to be taking on new stories and new settings every week, which is absolutely fantastic.
This week sees the Muppets mostly out of the confinements of the theater. It’s clear the show is still finding its footing, but there’s a hilarious little subplot with Fozzie and Jay Leno that just works so well. The episode has three different subplots going on, and it all seems to play out without interfering with each other yet working well together. It’s an example of the silliness we can come to expect the Muppets in the coming weeks. But more than that, it shows that this show is going to have the Muppets just as silly as you have come to love within the past years, and all this grown up Muppet show nonsense is completely blown out of proportion. The “adult” humor is so incredibly subtle it will fly over the heads of let alone just some kids, but adults too. Kids won’t understand when Scooter says “the band is always happy-legally now” but that’ll get the laughs from the adults in the room. While The Muppets is still finding its footing in primetime, it posses the quality and vision that Jim Henson put into The Muppet Show- a show that both kids and adults can enjoy together.
The episode has it’s pros and cons, mainly I didn’t care as much for the main plotline as I felt myself more invested in the subplots than the main Josh Groban/Piggy storyline. I don’t know what it is yet, but something feels very off about Piggy in the new series. Piggy was always a diva, but there was always this softer more entertaining side of her, instead she spends most of her screen time as a bit more of an obnoxious and is just a bit intolerable on screen. Eric Jacobson has done wonders with Piggy in recent years, and this kind of undoes that character. However, whereas Piggy slightly fails in this episode, Kermit soars as a character and in his performance. The show shows off a slightly snarkier Kermit, but he’s always fair and caring to his staff. Although he loses his cool sometimes, but he’s still the caring lovable frog we all remember. In many ways, it’s the closest we’ve got to The Muppet Show Kermit in years. Steve is doing an amazing job at giving Kermit a great sense of personality and continuing to make him a fun well rounded character.
There’s just a few jokes that a tad deadbeat and awkward in this episode. Pepe’s “gender is fluid” joke and the cringeworthy end credit sequence is something that could have come right out of what didn’t work in Muppets Tonight. It feels so awkward and forced and doesn’t really work. The best for the Muppets is when they’re nice and subtle about their humor. That’s what they do best. The biggest problem with the series is that they have a great script and then they feel like they need to throw some more raunchy stuff in. As long as they keep making subtle and hilarious jokes like “always happy-legally now” and Zoot thinking he’s at an AA meeting, the show will work out for the better.
On the positive side, there’s a lot of wonderful elements to the new series. Fozzie gets some awesome screen time along with guest star Jay Leno. Muppet MVP award goes to Steve Whitmire for the awesome performance and the re-appearance of The Newsman. Which was such an awesome silly story to fit the Newsman into, and he steals every scene he’s in. I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Newsman in the near future.
This is also the first time we’re ever hearing of Bobo or The Newsman having any children, as well as Gonzo’s mother. I wonder if we’ll ever actually see them on screen in the near future. And once we’re on the topic of Muppet relatives, can we cross our fingers for cameos by Emily Bear and Robin the Frog? Then once we’re at it maybe throw some Skeeter, Mama Fiama and Kermit and Fozzie’s Dad in there too. Hopefully that’s not asking for too much, right?
There’s a lot that works really well, and much that doesn’t in this episode, but as a second episode, it stands to show how The Muppets should be fresh and creative every week, just as silly and friendly as you want. The episode itself isn’t perfect, and the quality will soar after a handful of episodes, but for the time being, I’m enjoying this super silly Muppety episodes as the show finds its proper footing.
- I was very excited that the episode featured a brief musical moment between Josh Groban and Miss Piggy. Although it’s not the variety show format, there are plenty of opportunities for the Muppets to pull off different kind of sketches on their late night show.
- Speaking of which, I need to mention how incredibly amazing the voice talents displayed by Eric Jacobson in the musical performance of “If I Loved You”. It was a beautiful wonderful performance.
- Loved Laurence Fishburne’s totally random yet ridiculously hilarious cameo. It was so perfectly done in true Muppety cameo fashion of a short one-off cameo yet memorable and funny.
- Still no sign of some other Muppet A-listers, but we’re sure they’re going to show up eventually. No sign of Rowlf, Walter, Camilla, or others. Hopefully they’ll all turn up real soon!
- I found it so neat that the episode also featured characters that don’t ever get to really hang out together: Bobo and the Newsman have their first on-screen banter and interaction and man, did it work perfectly. As the show progresses, the possibilities of unlikely combination are endless, and this week was awesome.
That’s it for this week! Tune in next week for next week’s episode; Bear Left, Then Bear Write at 8/7c on ABC (and Mondays 8/7c on CityTV in Canada)!