(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Muppets (2015))
Doug (vo): When The Muppets premiered on ABC in 2015, people just ripped it apart, which is surprising, because there's a lot of hype around this show, and the jokes looked really funny, and the gimmick, which even they acknowledged is a gimmick, was familiar, but worked in other avenues, you know, the idea of it looking like a documentary with a camera crew following them around and having a little bit of the shaky cam and interviews, stuff like that. But that has worked tremendously well in shows like The Office and Parks and Rec. When it came out, though, for whatever reason, I never saw any episodes. I don't know if I was just busy when it was on or kept missing the times, but most people had the same general reaction: "It just wasn't the Muppets." "It was too mean", a lot of people said. "There was no joy, no soul, no heart." So, after sitting down and finally watching all the episodes of just this one-season series, are they right? I...it's complicated.
Premise[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): The initial idea behind this show is kind of like what the Muppet shows have been in the past, where all the Muppets are putting on this big TV show. Unlike before, where it was a variety show, now, it's Miss Piggy's talk show. Miss Piggy's the star, Fozzie's the co-host, Kermit's the producer, and all the other Muppets have, of course, a bunch of crazy jobs, as writers, producers, gophers...literal gophers sometimes...all that good stuff. At the center, as usual, is Kermit trying to keep balance among the chaos. I mean, when Miss Piggy's more the star of the show now than ever before, she, of course, acts even more like a prima donna than in previous shows. As you'd imagine, a bunch of celebrities show up as guests, a whole bunch of things go wrong that everybody has to either scramble to fix or end up embarrassing themselves on live TV.
Review[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): On paper, it's actually not that different from the other Muppet shows. But in writing and production, you can see where the problems kind of arise, and I do mean "kind of", 'cause it gets a little complicated as it goes along-- you'll see what I mean. The thing is, from beginning to end, the show was funny. This is good writing, clever, ingenious writing. The writers of the show know what's gonna sound humorous out of the Muppets' mouths. Hearing the optimistic and often-upbeat Kermit say "My life is a bacon-soaked hell" is pretty comical. Hearing the blue eagle as the censor say all the things you can't say and do on television is also a lot of fun. Fozzie saying he joined a dating site for bears and it wasn't exactly what he had in mind is just ingenious. I'm sorry, that is friggin' ingenious.
(Clips focusing on Kermit are shown)
Doug (vo): But, yeah, what about the criticisms that the show is just too mean? Well, for a lot of the characters, I don't mind too much. I mean, Miss Piggy is kind of a mean character, and the Muppets are all kind of self-absorbed. It almost makes sense, except for one character. The idea of Kermit is that he is always trying to keep things together, he's always trying to look on the bright side, he's always trying to find the silver lining, and then, usually, at some point, he'll crack, and then he'll realize the error of his ways and apologize, and all the Muppets are like, "Oh, it's okay. We love you", and you know how it goes. He always tries to find the cheerful route even if he doesn't quite make it. But for the first half of the show, he doesn't even attempt to find the cheerful route. He'll just straight-up say if a routine sucks or the writing isn't that good or somebody acted terrible, or manipulate the crew, but not in a way where he felt like he had to do it and he feels kind of bad. No, he's, like, giggling to himself, like, "Heh-heh, I got away with murder." Not only did it not feel right, it ruined the dynamic of what held the Muppets together. Kermit was the focus, he was the ethical center, and here, it's just kind of thrown out the window.
(Several clips focusing on Kermit and Miss Piggy's relationship are shown)
Doug (vo): Oh, and Kermit and Piggy are broken up. And, no, not like they break up for one episode and get back together. I mean, for the majority of the series, they're not together. And it's...awkward and...manipulative and not super-funny, just more, you guessed it, mean. And despite a lot of the episodes still getting laughs, this did distractingly carry through.
(Several clips focusing on the show's 11th episode, "Swine Song", are shown, along with more various clips)
Doug (vo): That is, until halfway through the series. Yeah, there's suddenly this episode where the studio president comes down and says, "The show is too mean. There's not enough joy, there's too much talking, not enough sketches. Fix it." Sure enough, from that point on, the show does get a little nicer, and there are a few more sketches thrown in there, and Piggy and Kermit start to act a little nicer towards each other, and there's even a scene when they're trying to think of ideas, and they just start humming The Muppet Show with their little, you know, office supplies and mugs and paper clips and stuff, and Kermit says, "This is what was missing, joy." Clearly, something happened here. Even in the intro, where Kermit can't get any donuts or coffee and there's nothing left for him and he's like, "Okay, let's start the show", they change that to have it where Miss Piggy brings him a coffee. Okay, come on. We don't need that much. Yeah, it's not a 100% change. I mean, the characters are still pretty similar, but they just didn't seem as harsh. And on top of that, the writing was still funny. At its core, I still liked watching these characters interact off each other.
Final thought[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): So, all right, it's kind of a mixed bag, but in general, would I recommend it? As long as you keep in mind it is gonna get a little nicer and have more heart as it goes on, yeah. Yeah, I would. It's still really funny, and even though the characters aren't always 100% on point, they're close enough. I don't think it's quite the insult that everybody thinks it is. I think it's just a show trying to find its footing, and halfway through, it does. Since part of my job is watching all these episodes, I can say it was worth it. Is it phenomenal? No. But I think it is worth your time, especially if you're a Muppets fan. It starts off on shaky ground, but so do a lot of shows. And like a lot of shows, this one does get better, and it doesn't just wait until season 2 or 3 or 4, it does it in the first season. If you have Disney+, give it a watch. Yeah, it can be mean, but it's got enough laughs to make it worth your while.
(The final shot of the show's preview trailer, showing Statler and Waldorf watching the preview at a movie theater, is shown)