I have been a fan of The Muppets all of my life. I have watched most of what they have done from the original Muppet Show right up to the most recent film Most Wanted. I was thrilled to learn that some of my favourite characters were coming back to the small screen and was being brought to us by one of the co-creators of The Big Bang Theory. So how did the sixteen episode first season fare?
A brand like The Muppets already has a bank of rich and well loved characters. Particularly Kermit and Miss Piggy are known by most people worldwide. When the show first started it seemed like some of the characters were their usual selves like Fozzie, Gonzo, Pepe and Rizzo. Uncle Deadly made a great addition to the show and wasn’t really utilised before this. One thought I had was that Kermit and Miss Piggy seemed different. Prior to the release of the show there was much publicity about Kermit and Miss Piggy breaking up which drew people to the show but the characters themselves just didn’t seem right. It wasn’t until the show returned after its break that Kermit and Miss Piggy seemed to be more like their old selves and their history together made interesting television.
The guest stars were very decent too. The original Muppet Show had actors lining up to guest star and this didn’t seem any different. Elizabeth Banks, Laurence Fishburne, Jay Leno, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jason Bateman, Dave Grohl, Christina Applegate … the list goes on. Reese Witherspoon’s rivalry with Miss Piggy made great TV. Willie Nelson had a great spot to in the penultimate episode.
At first, I was a little disappointed that the show wasn’t picking up it’s original variety performance format. The show took on the brave format of mockumentary which works for shows like Modern Family. The style suited The Muppets considering they were working on a TV show themselves and it made great workplace interactions and opinions. It just followed their daily lives and kept it simple which was good. The last thing The Muppets need was a big over complicated storyline. There was a bit of upset from parents however when the gang were drinking alcohol at a bar. I found it quite amusing but I can understand why they may have been a little upset.
Unfortunately after episode 10 there were creative differences among the staff and the show was changed from then onwards. I personally thought that the show improved a lot in its last 6 episodes and was a much lighter tone. Beforehand the show seemed to be a bit confused about what it wanted to be whether it was aiming to be fun for all the family or something a bit more serious. My favourite episode was when Miss Piggy was in hospital and they shot her show from her room and it seemed to get some of its old charm back. Despite some bumpy parts the love story between Kermit and Miss Piggy is always fun to watch and is up there with Niles and Daphne and Ross and Rachel.
The show was aimed to be a comedy. It didn’t feel too much of a comedy in the beginning. Other than Fozzie’s brilliant storyline with his girlfriend the show didn’t seem to have much of its expected humour and it was a bit unsure of what it wanted to be. That being said the show did have some good humour in parts with Gonzo, Pepe and Rizzo getting their bachelor pad and Miss Piggy being her usual diva persona. The humour got much better after the show’s break and became more fun which is what The Muppets are meant to be.
While not the strongest entry in the Muppets’ rich and long catalogue it’s still a good watch. I can’t imagine that people will be rushing out to buy the DVD but if it’s repeated on the TV I’ll be sure to put it on if I want some easy watching.
Set and Effects
It feels a little strange that a show without CGI should have this section but you have to remember how much effort goes into puppeteering. It’s old school but effective. For a crew that have been performing and voicing these characters for years they have it down to a fine art. It showed that sometimes you don’t need things to be animated and colourful for it to be appealing to all ages. Sometimes it just takes what was done years ago. Simple but effective.
It was great to have The Muppets back on our screens even if it was in a modern fashion. The show had most of the characters return which was great but Kermit and Miss Piggy just seemed like they weren’t their usual selves until the latter part of the season. The humour wasn’t familiar with the franchises’ previous instalments but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t funny. It was a good first season even if it did have some bumpy parts and it wasn’t a car crash that ruined the well loved franchise.
Most of the show didn’t have the charm that have made these characters household names which was a shame but the last part of the season seemed to be getting back on track. It is still unknown if the show has been renewed for a second season but I really hope it is. If the same writers can be kept and the formula that was used in the last 6 episodes it could really get the show back on track. If the show is cancelled it means nothing new for The Muppets for a long time to come and I don’t want to see that happen.