TV Review: “The Muppets”

The Muppets Pilot

Synopsis (ABC): 

The Muppets return to primetime with a contemporary, documentary-style show. For the first time ever, a series  will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires. This is a more adult, new Muppet series, for “kids” of all ages.

My thoughts: I’ve read loosely about some critics not being down with the Muppets taking on adult topics. But, as Funky Dineva would say, is it me, or is it that the Muppets have always been adult? I don’t particularly understand some of the critical outrage over the Muppets addressing the fact that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem have taken drugs, or that the Muppets have relationships or just the idea of putting the Muppets in the real life setting of a late night TV show.

It’s not like adult themes have been foreign from the Muppets. Adult themes aren’t even foreign from Sesame Street, which Jim Henson had wanted to be watched by both children and their parents. There were tons of adult themes on Sesame Street, including discussion about engagement and marriage, death, and a host of other things. The Muppets have always been an outlet for the more adult jokes, the jokes that couldn’t be on Sesame Street, and in the Muppet movies, there was always a sense that adults were in on the joke. The key difference between the movies and the new ABC show is that the movies just hinted or alluded to things. The ABC show just outright says it. It’s only saying what we’ve been thinking for years.

Anyways, this is a long-winded way of me saying I loved The Muppets. I thought it was irreverent and fun. Sure, it’s something to get used to, hearing what I’ve thought in my head actually said out loud by the characters themselves, but it’s like we’re all finally addressing several elephants in the room. Even better; it seems The Muppets completely bypasses the atrocity that is The Muppets film from 2011, which was totally against Muppet canon.

There are only a few television and film properties for which I am dogmatic about, and the Muppets is one of them. Throughout their history, the Muppets have never thought of themselves as “Muppets.” They’ve been what they are; dogs, pigs, frogs, and bears (and the nebulous “human” Muppets, which aren’t really called anything.)They’ve existed as real people, not some separate species. The film ruined that by making them behave as if they have always acknowledged that they are Muppets. Thankfully, the show reverses this crime by having them be just as they have always been, “people” who live in the world of entertainment. Case in point: when Fozzie’s girlfriend confronts her parents, she says, “You can say it, Dad. He’s a bear,” not “He’s a Muppet.”

Now to discuss Denise. Look, I’m a Miss Piggy/Kermit purist, so I’ll always be down with Miss Piggy. Denise is going to be a character that will take some getting used to, but I don’t hate her. In fact, I think her introduction paved the way for some rather unique nuance into Miss Piggy as a character, particularly with the pilot’s story concerning why Miss Piggy and Kermit even broke up. I think Denise will be a great foil for Miss Piggy and we’ll get to learn even more about our favorite diva pig. It still remains to be seen if Denise will have her own developed character going forward, since all she’s known for right now is being the new pig on Kermit’s arm. We’ll see about her.

But a lot of my favorite Muppets are back in the spotlight, like Gonzo, Scooter, Pepe, and, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and, of course, Fozzie, are being just as funny, if not funnier, than ever. I, like most of America, grew up with these characters, so anytime I can see all of them on my TV is great.

Overall, I loved the pilot and I’ll be tuning in every week. This is one show I won’t be recapping, though, since I just enjoy the Muppets too much. I want to selfishly watch it for my own enjoyment. But I’ll probably have posts about the show every once in a while, for sure (as Janice would say). It would seem I’m not alone, since The Muppets was ABC’s (and TV in general’s) highest rated comedy.

What did you think about The Muppets? Give me your take in the comments section!