When Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy announced that they were no longer an item earlier this year, many people pulled out their hair screaming “Love is dead.” The move was timely given the premiere of their new show on ABC. But honestly: Did you really think that Kermit and Miss Piggy’s very public breakup wasn’t a stunt to promote their new show?
This current iteration, produced by Bob Kushell (3rd Rock from the Sun and American Dad) and Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory), places Jim Henson’s beloved creations in a mockumentary style sitcom very much in the same vein as The Office. The show chronicles everyday goings-on of the lives of the cast and crew of the faux late night talk show Up Late with Miss Piggy, which feels very reminiscent of 30 Rock. Kermit is the executive producer, the members of Electric Mayhem are the show’s band, Gonzo is on the writing staff, Fozzie cracks corny jokes to warm-up the audience (much to the chagrin of the grumpy old men who now sit in the front row instead of up in the balcony), Scooter is a very inept talent scout, and Sam the Eagle is the head of Standards and Practices ensuring that suggestive language doesn’t make it on-air. The genius of The Muppets franchise has been their built in meta-commentary on pop culture, which fits in so well with the structure and tone of this show.
A Bacon-wrapped Hell on Earth
The series premiere, however, felt a bit muted. There were jokes and they were funny (and decidedly more adult in their tone) but the script felt like it held back on the humor in favor of setting up the new status quo of the Muppets’ world. True, it has been two decades since they’ve had a show on primetime and a year since their last movie so there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. Being a brand new show it is evident the showrunners are still figuring out the direction in which they want to take the show for the rest of the season. And as much as I want to say that this isn’t your childhood’s Muppets, everything old is new again and some things are just brand new.
Up Late with Miss Piggy’s variety show format allows the show to bring in guest celebrities like Elizabeth Banks, Tom Bergeron, and Imagine Dragons just like they did in their previous show. Miss Piggy is still as self-absorbed and narcissistic as ever as clearly evidenced by her ridiculous demands and her silly reason for disliking Elizabeth Banks. Kermit is dating someone from the network named Denise who is (surprise!) also a pig. There’s even a minor subplot, rife with racial overtones, involving Fozzie as he tries to win over the parents of the girl he’s dating. That being said, these are still Jim Henson’s Muppets who many of us grew up watching and have a very special place in our hearts. While the pilot episode wasn’t particularly outstanding, it wasn’t sorely disappointing. Kermit and the gang are still a joy to watch and there’s a lot of room for improvement as the season progresses.
The Muppets airs this Fall every Tuesday night 8/7pm on ABC.
“I’m not happy with the janitor knowing what I throw away. Can you have someone put a layer of generic trash over my private trash?”
Never change, Miss Piggy. Never change.