Muppets Now: Slow Start, but a Lot of Promise – Disney+ Review

The first episode was rough, but it started to get back to roots as it went on.

SUMMARY

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:

One new character is Joe, the Legal Weasel. He’s the lawyer.

“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. 

Yes, this is Danny Trejo hugging the Swedish Chef. It’s as awesome as you’d think.

END SUMMARY

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. 

It helps that the interview is RuPaul who is charming as it gets.

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.

Piggy can be brutal.

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 TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

98) Steve Martin (The Muppet Show)

The truth is, I could have put almost any episode of the Muppet Show here and felt justified, because the Muppets deserve their recognition and should not have fallen to the wayside to the extent they did after the death of their creator. And here’s a loving tribute to that man:

I’m hoping that I don’t have to tell any of you what the Muppets are, but, in case you did not have a happy life, allow me to give you a quick run-down. The Muppets were created by Jim Henson, who decided that puppets, while good for entertaining children, could still be used for more mature audiences as well. After helping start Sesame Street, and giving it a run with “The Land of Gorch” on SNL, Henson finally found the balance of adult and child humor that he was looking for with “The Muppet Show.” The main characters are all puppets, and they interact with regular people, usually their “special guest.” It was a variety sketch show, and often managed to grab some famous actors at the time. Many of these guests provided memorable performances or character moments, however, I chose this episode for a reason.

Scooter.png
All that hot Scooter action?

Steve Martin
Pictured: Comedy Genius

Steve Martin is everything: A comedian, singer, banjo player, magician, dancer, and brilliant writer. The Muppets are the Muppets, which is the most awesome tautology ever. These two elements just put together on screen should be excellent, but it is their other synergistic element that made them really work: Both Steve Martin and the Muppets excel at performances that seem entertaining to children but contain enough subtle adult elements to allow parents to laugh alongside their spawn. They both portray an innocence that masks their absolute debauched nature, and seem to be genuinely having the time of their lives doing it, which always makes for better TV. Even the cold open is Scooter telling Martin that, after seeing his routine, he’s going to fit right in on the show. Since one of the sketches is him doing balloon animals from balloons he stole from “balloon farms” without inflating them, resulting in him being attacked by the “parent balloons,” it’s hard to argue with that assessment.

The “plot” of the episode is that the show is being cancelled, so all of the sketches are supposedly being performed for almost no one, which helps sell the idea that Martin is just an entertainer, who is here for the fun of it and not for the money. Martin also interacts with the Muppets as if they are no less real than his usual human co-stars, which helps the audience to become more engaged in the episode. As the episode progresses, this creates an atmosphere in the episode that everyone really is enjoying the performance, which always helps with a comedy show. Throughout the sketches, you can actually hear the puppeteers laughing themselves silly, because they were having such a good time.

If you ever just want to feel like a kid and an adult at the same time, watch this episode. If you just want a sample, enjoy Martin being his own musical act.

PREVIOUS – 99: Quantum Leap

NEXT – 97: Maverick

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.