Two-and-a-half out of Five Kernels
The lovable Muppets are back on TV, except there’s a lost connection somewhere.
“The Muppets” are all there, Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Scooter, Rizzo … well you get the idea, but this show isn’t about what’s on stage but what’s off. It delves into the personal lives of our favorite Muppets, their relationships and careers in a documentary-style show similar to “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Many jokes still hit similar notes, they work on their show within a show (much like “30 Rock”) called “Up Late with Miss Piggy” and get criticized and censored for their adult humor: Kermit jokes needing moisturizer because he is a frog, Fozzie gets offended by bear stereotypes and Rizzo has an extended family of sketchy entrepreneurs. Humor like that is reminiscent of many Muppet films and lands well.
However, sometimes the laughs seem forced, overdone, sort of “been there done that” by almost every other show on TV. And those mostly relate with the Muppets’ relationships with each other. It’s not so much that the Muppets aren’t friends — except some tension between Kermit and Piggy, but more on that later — but there doesn’t seem to be the camaraderie, the “let’s all sing a song and work together” vibe so prevalent in the films.
And then there’s Kermit and Piggy, the famous, no longer “it couple.” While the breakup does create drama on the show — and often a few laughs — Kermit and Piggy’s relationship just doesn’t work. Kermit’s cute, nervous behavior is replaced with neurotic outbursts and sarcastic quips. Piggy’s unrelenting infatuation and protectiveness of “Kermie” is now just pure insanity and unrealistic demands.
The relationship now mirrors the relationship between Liz (Tina Fey) and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) in “30 Rock,” a producer/writer trying to maintain control of the overbearing actress. In fact many elements and relationships are similar to “30 Rock” and “The Muppets” would be wise to sit down and take a few notes from the show. Like how to make good use of celebrity guest stars without overwhelming the episode or using (almost) every female guest star as an antagonist for Piggy.
Although there are mistakes “The Muppets” isn’t completely unwatchable, but perhaps instead of checking in every week, wait to binge watch the entire season once it’s over.
There are elements that work in “The Muppets” and there are times where it feels like the old Muppet crew getting back together for another hurrah. But then there are moments where it just feels wrong. What’s missing is the heart. The heart that drove the Muppet characters, the heart that made them sing and the heart that inspired and connected audiences. Someday I hope they find it, that rainbow connection for the sake of the lovers, the dreamers and me.