ABC’s The Muppets is not your parents’ The Muppets Show. The Muppets is edgier and plays more to an adult audience, although it’s perfectly fine for kids to tune in and check out. It’s likely younger viewers won’t pick up on many of the jokes but at least they’ll get to see Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and Fozzie Bear back on TV in primetime.
The Muppets half-hour comedy will premiere on September 22, 2015 at 8pm ET/PT with Kermit and Miss Piggy front and center, as it should be. The new series is about the behind-the-scenes goings on at Miss Piggy’s late night talk show which Kermit executive produces. He’s joined behind the scenes by the ever-hapless Scooter as the talent booker, Sam the Eagle making sure broadcast standards are upheld (no saying of the words “crotchety” or “gesticulate” will be allowed), and Fozzie Bear has the honor of warming up the audience before Miss Piggy takes the stage.
Also showing up are the Electric Mayhem Band as Miss Piggy’s house band, Gonzo as a writer, and Denise the Pig who works in marketing at the network. And speaking of Denise, Kermit makes it clear his long-term relationship with Miss Piggy is over and he’s moved on. “Take dating out of the equation and she’s just a lunatic,” confides Kermit to the documentary crew shooting the series. He’s in hog heaven over his new main squeeze, confessing he has a thing for pigs.
The pilot shows the working relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy is a bit strained as she’s aware of his rebound pig. She takes full advantage of her position of power in this new working relationship, ordering bizarre tasks be done to keep her happy. She also attempts to control Kermit’s most important job: overseeing the booking of guests. No spoilers here, but Miss Piggy is not a fan of an actress Kermit books on the show and she demands he cancel her appearance on Up Late with Miss Piggy. The power struggle that ensues clears up the lingering relationship questions fans of the popular frog and pig might still have, even after they’ve gone public with the end of the relationship.
Still not sure if you’re interested in this new Muppets series? Did you like The Office? The Muppets is like that popular, long-running series but much lighter in tone and less uncomfortable. The characters will talk directly to the camera and, as Gonzo points out, what they say to the documentary crew and what they tell their Up Late with Miss Piggy coworkers are often two very different opinions on the same subject. The series also follows our favorite Muppets after their work hours are over, and for the first time we get to see Fozzie with a human girlfriend. That bit didn’t work as well as you’d expect, and it’ll be interesting to see if future shows steer away from putting the Muppets out in public places without other Muppets to work off of.
Kermit delivers the best line from episode one (titled “Pig Girls Don’t Cry”) while discussing his job: “My life is a bacon-wrapped hell on earth.” Kermit might not be enjoying his work behind the scenes, but the pilot should make Muppet fans happy the motley crew is back and eager to tune in and see what living hell Miss Piggy will put Kermie through just because she can.
Overall, the pilot signals the show has great potential, although it wasn’t quite as witty as you’d expect from a Muppets series aimed at an older target audience. Still, it’s not as if The Muppets is a tough sell. ABC knows there’s an audience out there ready to gobble up these new half-hour episodes. But even with a known product like the Muppets it may take a few episodes to establish the tone and get the show off and running on its own feet, rather than moving forward based on the goodwill the Muppets brand has built up over the years.
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