The Muppets (2015)
I love the Muppets, I have done for decades, I’m biased and I’ll admit it right up front, but in this case I think I’m exactly the target audience this was made for!
Made in a mockumentary style, this follows the Muppets as they produce a late night talk show fronted by Miss Piggy, as well as seeing them in their personal lives.
I think the idea of the Muppets coming back to do weekly TV is brilliant. I love how the long ‘first look’ preview took elements from shows like ‘Episodes’ and ‘The Office’ to really change the type of show this is in contrast to what has been done with these characters before. These techniques are now heavily used in many shows but for them it’s a fresh approach and really sets this show down a path that could be wonderfully amusing and a nice and contemporary change from the variety shows the Muppets have made before. It should be noted that the ‘first look’ trailer drew upon the pilot episode considerably, so if you saw that it’s a good indication as to whether you’ll enjoy the style of the show itself or not.
There are lots of old characters, even just standing around in the background of shots, so many fan favourites, some of whom have been underused for a while. A lot of the humour comes from things that will go straight over the heads of kids but work well for their parents such as a joke about AA meetings, another about Fozzie online dating and finding that putting ‘bear looking for love’ gets unexpected responses. Even the format of the show itself as being a mockumentary set around them making a late night talk show rather than the whole family aimed variety shows they were usually doing before feels more ‘Studio 60’ than kids show.
This idea of them making a talk show is quite clever, although it’s a change from what they’re usually shown as producing the format of that type of show still features a special guest and musical act just as the original ‘Muppet Show’ and later ‘Muppets Tonight’ did, so while there are adaptations it still retains some familiar features.
My feeling after the first episode though was that it could do with being a lot odder and funnier, everything just felt a little too expected and safe. I love it when the characters come out with things that you could never expect, and maybe that’s still to come later in the run, I guess (as it always did on ‘The Muppet Show’) this may partly depend on the guests who bring with them certain opportunities and styles of humour that may work better, or worse.
The pilot has been hugely lambasted by reviews this week. I’m far more positive about it, though as I said from the start I’m very biased. My being biased doesn’t really matter though, this is my blog and you’re here reading my thoughts, I’m not here to always be balanced, impartial, or to give the consensus. Plus, I’m the kind of person this show is aimed at pleasing, it seems to be far more geared towards adults who nostalgically want to see the characters they loved in their youth rather than aimed at making new fans. I’m a lifelong fan and loved it, if you’re not a fan of the Muppets you probably never will be and that’s your loss not theirs, they don’t need to win you over, you’re simply missing out. In fact I once dated someone once who didn’t like the Muppets, it ended, badly…