Finally, the show that many child and adult have been looking forward to seeing this fall airs tonight for the first time. After the success of the movies The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, ABC had no problem green-lighting the new TV show based on the iconic characters. However, if you are expecting an update of the old Muppet Show, you will be disappointed. Yes, the gang is all here, (looking great by the way), but this show is a bit edgier than traditional Muppet fare and could hurt the brand if they are not careful.
Instead of the variety show format that you grew up with, Kermit and company now work for the late night talk show, “Up Late with Miss Piggy.” Dr. Teeth and his band are the show’s signature band, the old critics Statler and Waldorf are in the audience, the Swedish Chef prepares the food for the cast, Scooter is the stage manager, Fozzie Bear warms up the crowd with bad jokes and Kermit runs the whole operation. This works out fine, but it also leaves many favorite Muppets characters nothing to do except to deliver the occasional one-liner.
The show is also very different in that it is sort of a Muppetized version of The Office. It is unique in that we get to see the lives of the characters when they are not at work. Kermit and Piggy are no longer an item, which makes working together difficult. Kermit is also seeing another pig. Fozzie Bear is dating for the first time in a long time, but it is with a human girl whose parents are not too crazy for the mixed relationship.
For the pilot episode, Elizabeth Banks is scheduled to be Miss Piggy’s guest but Piggy “hates her stupid face” for a reason that is shared later in the episode. Dancing with the Stars’ Tom Bergeron is also a guest and the band Imagine Dragons comes on the scene for about a minute.
The end result, at least for the pilot episode, is that the show is enjoyable but it pales in comparison to what it could be. Knowing that children will watch the show no matter what, the crew behind the show have been concentrating more on the adult viewers making the show a bit edgier than some of us fans are comfortable with. They would have done better if the writing was focused on the kid audience knowing that their parents will watch anyway. There are innuendo jokes that will definitely fly over the heads of the kids, but they will make some adults squirm. The pilot episode alone references AA meetings and the homosexual term “bear” (in which Fozzie shares about an unfortunate misunderstanding on a dating website). The lines are funny, but seem out of place.
The biggest problem though is the show’s storytelling. While the storyline about Fozzie meeting his girlfriend’s parents is actually pretty funny and clever, the reveal on why Miss Piggy has such a dislike for Elizabeth Banks has an explanation that is sort of a head-scratcher, even for this show. Having a pig and frog talk about their romantic troubles and miscommunications will mean nothing to children and is too silly for adults. Sure, the jokes are fun, but when the pair talk “serious” it just feels weird to watch.
The Muppets airs on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.