The first episode was rough, but it started to get back to roots as it went on.
The Muppets are back and trying to break onto the internet. Muppets Now is a streaming show featuring a number of vignettes designed to replicate online shows. It’s run by Scooter (David Rudman)… poorly. Recurring segments include:
“Lifesty(le)” with Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson), where the lady herself dishes out lifestyle tips; Økėÿ Døkęÿ Køøkïñ, a cooking competition between the Swedish Chef (Bill Barretta) and a special guest; Muppet Masters, in which Walter (Peter Linz) interviews the Muppets; Mup Close and Personal, in which a Muppet, sometimes Kermit (Matt Vogel), interviews a celebrity; Muppet Labs, in which Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (David Rudman and Dave Goelz) conduct science experiments; and Pepe’s Unbelievable Gameshow, featuring Pepe the Prawn (Barretta) making up the rules to humiliate and amuse.
So, the first segments of the first episode of this series were kind of a let down. The initial cooking competition with the Swedish Chef just seemed like a series of obvious jokes and the Muppet Masters discussion of Photobombing had only one joke that really made me laugh. The Lifesty(le) section was inherently a little more amusing because of the celebrities involved and the fact that Miss Piggy is always amazing. However, it really turned around a bit when Kermit the Frog was interviewing a celebrity and everything went off the rails. Despite that, I still considered the first episode a bit of a bust and I was worried for this series. It didn’t seem to have the same kind of enthusiasm that I usually expect from a Muppet production.
But when I gave the show a second chance, I found that it did start to regain that wonderful blend of childish and adult humor, but with a more modern touch. The show is trying to adapt itself to the modern world, where people tend to want to consume more short-form media, by focusing more directly on short vignettes than having an overarching narrative. Moreover, each of the segments is a parody of an existing style of content, ranging from the personal interview show to the cooking competition to the science experiment web series. Having the Muppets enter into these well established frameworks not only adds a level of natural insanity to it, but allows them to add a level of cynicism at times without it becoming inherently dark or mean-spirited. For example, a big part of Pepe’s Gameshow is Pepe arbitrarily humiliating the guests and Scooter, his co-host. If it were coming from a person, it would seem cruel, but coming from a tiny King Prawn puppet, it comes off as hilarious.
Overall, while this isn’t the apex of a Muppets series, it does have a lot of potential, particularly since it’s only got one six episode season and time to learn from what does and doesn’t work before the next one.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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