‘The Muppets’ Review: ‘Too Hot To Handler’ (Season 1, Episode 8)

RIKI LINDHOME, FOZZIE BEAR, DENISE, KERMIT THE FROG

Jarrod Fairclough – One gripe that I’ve had with the reviews for this new series is that they’re all comparing these characters to their previous incarnations.  They say that Miss Piggy is a diva compared to her Muppet Show self, or that Gonzo is much more subdued.  And I admit to being guilty of that at times.  However, I don’t seem to see much comparison about these characters from episode to episode, and the occasionally inconsistent way they’re being written.

DENISE, KERMIT THE FROG

Unfortunately, it seems the biggest victim of inconsistency is our favorite frog, Kermit.  Perhaps its my own feelings that Kermit should be happy and helpful, and perhaps it has to do with last weeks moving final few minutes.  It just seems to me that the character the writers are having the hardest time with is Kermit, which is a  shame when he’s the main figurehead of the Muppet ship.  In one episode he shows compassion and friendship, and in the next he shows cynicism and pessimism.  Last week’s episode had Kermit relax, seek advice from an old friend, and go back to his roots, but this episode almost undid a lot of that, as Kermit tries everything he can to blame Fozzie’s girlfriend Becky for something he had no proof of.  That’s not a Kermit I can get behind.  And I hate that I just had to write that sentence.

KERMIT THE FROG

What is turning people off this show is the idea that Kermit has lost that ‘Gee whiz, let’s put on a show with these crazies’ personality and instead seems almost judgmental of his old friends.  I can forgive giving Kermit a little more depth, and I can appreciate that they want to show more sides of Kermit as a human (frog).  My issue is that this cynicism is becoming Kermit’s main characteristic, and that should not now, nor ever, be the case. Kermit can be a little jaded, Kermit can be a little jerky.  But it seems to be at two extremes episode to episode, with no real in-between.  The writers need to find a way to integrate the two, which I have a feeling we’ll see when the retool happens after Episode 10.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this episode – It was good!  Not great, possibly one of the weakest so far, but a good Muppet episode is better than anything else on television these days!  Fozzie wants to ask his girlfriend Becky, played by Riki Lindhome, to move in with him, having only been together 12 weeks.  But Kermit has accusations that she is a trivia cheat, driving a wedge between the two best friends.  Meanwhile, Scooter goes on a date with comedian Chelsea Handler, seeking advice from Rizzo and Pepe.

SCOOTER

Scooter has really blossomed in this series, becoming the nerd we always assumed he was.  This juxtaposition between him and the edgy Handler plays out pretty much as you expect, as the slower he wants to take things, the more she falls in love with him.  Who’d have known that playing hard to get works?  With their agreement to take things slow, it’ll be interesting to see if she returns.  Handler does a passable job, but she’s not really an actress, with the some clunky delivery on a few lines.  Rizzo and Pepe’s friendship has always been one of my favorite things about these characters, and this episode is no exception.  They pass advice to Scooter with ease – sorry, I meant sleaze – and I can’t wait to see more of their relationship.

FOZZIE BEAR

Speaking of friendships, I’m still yet to discuss the one between Kermit and Fozzie.  Though they fight, it’s nice to see that they come together in the end, and it’s great to see Fozzie stick up for himself.  He’s always had a backbone, even back on The Muppet Show when he’d argue with the heckling Statler and Waldorf, and it’s refreshing to see him take on Kermit, even with an Elvis wig on his head.  These two have always had a deep kinship, and it’s something that won’t ever go away, but I’m interested to see the way it’s challenged in this new series, because it’s something we haven’t really seen before.

While I’m still holding out hope to see more of the obscure characters used, I’m glad we get to see the continuing adventures of our favorite fuzzy guys.  I’m willing to forgive a lot of the rough seas we’ve been facing, considering this retool that’s going ahead from Episode 11, but for the moment I’ll take any new Muppet content as a win.

Other Thoughts:

  • The following were the trivia team names: Let’s Get Quizzical, Smarty Pints, John Triviolta, Taking Care of Quizness, Smartinis, and the Quizzly Bears
  • Very little Piggy again this episode, which was nice.  As much as I’m enjoying Miss Piggy this series, she can still be a little overwhelming so it’s good to see that they can remove her occasionally.
  • I wonder how many other Kermit one on one interviews have been with someone else who didn’t know they were being spoken to.
  • It’s nice to see Denise in a way that has nothing to do with Miss Piggy, and instead in just a ‘Kermit’s girlfriend’ way.
  • I watched Rizzo’s spit take frame by frame, and it looks like a practical effect, but could just be a REALLY good visual effect.
  • Big Mean Carl is kind of a Franc-ophile
  • I want Bobo to follow me around and hug me when I’m sad.
  • Animal eats cookies like Cookie Monster, including the Om Nom sound.  It’s a nice little reference.
  • Speaking of Animal, I’m almost willing to call the bands obsession with robot Kermit a very minor C story.
  • Have you noticed that every time you see Deadly’s phone, it’s some sort of social media?  The other week it was Instagram, this time it looked a little like Facebook Messenger. I wonder what emoji’s he likes to use.
  • ‘Excuse me for enjoying the magical flying stairs’
  • ‘I cannot wait to let someone else tell me what I should watch on TV at night!’
  • ‘They’ve got amazing prizes like beer…   Maybe it’s just beer’
  • ‘Don’t skip the dirty stuff, coz I was born in the sewer, you are not gonna shock me’
  • ‘I can’t stop thinking about our goodnight kiss – So we’re down to Chelsea and my mom’
  • ‘Why are they a Number 2 pencil? You know what I mean? Why isn’t 1 good enough?’

SCOOTER, UNCLE DEADLY

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