The Office popularized the mockumentary format of sitcoms. The British Office, that is. The American adaptation of The Office used the same format and unknowingly started a plague of mock-documentary sitcoms. Community made the best three mockumentary episodes. The Community mockumentary episodes parodied the existing mockumentaries, most notably Modern Family. Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, doesn’t like mockumentaries, because it’s an inherently easier story to tell when characters tell the audience how they feel, when the joke’s punchline is punched further in the one-on-one interview. The Muppets former series revolved around show business. The Muppets always comment, satirize, and parody popular entertainment. The Muppets Christmas Carol lovingly parodied the Dickens classic with a meta-textual awareness about the tropes of novels and movies, and let’s not forget the meta-reality roles of Gonzo and Rizzo (who had read the book they narrated, who took on the role of the creator, who had the sinister gift of the novelist who knows exactly what will happen to every character without the characters knowing themselves). The newest Muppets TV show doesn’t differ from the spirit of the previous offerings. Sure, the new Muppets has more adult humor, most of which a child won’t understand, but the Muppets are the Muppets. The faux-documentary style’s an unfortunate choice, but it’s an easier way to send up the industry while showing a different side of The Muppets.
Professional critics learned about the break-up of Miss Piggy and Kermit during the TCAs. The news was all over social media. I never liked Kermit and Miss Piggy as a couple. Unfortunately for me, the series follows the close personal lives of Kermit and Miss Piggy. "Pig Girls Don't Cry" revolved around their break-up. The majority of the show is set on the set of Miss Piggy’s late night talk show. Kermit’s conflict is managing passive-aggression, which he doesn’t notice until Miss Piggy’s more overt about it. Miss Piggy’s first guest is Elizabeth Banks. Miss Piggy doesn’t want her. Why? Her picture on the poster of Pitch Perfect 2 was by Miss Piggy and Kermit when Kermit ended their relationship. Why did Kermit end the relationship? Miss Piggy stopped to indulge fans’ selfies. Elizabeth Banks reminded Miss Piggy of the worst night of her life.
The late news about show concerned its late production. Critics didn’t receive screeners until late last week. Oh, the horror. The reason for Miss Piggy not wanting Elizabeth Banks on the show reveals that, indeed, the show had a late start on production. The decision to break apart Miss Piggy and Kermit seemed to depend more on viral publicity than the creative good of the show. Kermit acted like a dick in the breakup. He had passive-aggression. Not once did he tell Miss Piggy his dissatisfaction with never-ending fan selfies. Evidently, the frog and the pig never communicated. Kermit and Miss Piggy represent the collective heart of The Muppets, but those characters were the worst part of the “Pilot.”
The writers introduced Kermit’s new girlfriend, a vaguely southern pig, and the head of marketing for the network. Obviously, the new girlfriend’s the unwanted new girlfriend in every romantic comedy story. She’ll further the rift between the exes as Kermit and Miss Piggy slowly rekindle the love they once felt for each other. The overall presentation of the show will be in the style of more recent sitcoms, but its central storyline will follow the tried and true formula of the romantic comedy.
I enjoyed other storylines way more than Kermit and Miss Piggy. The Fozzie bear storyline in which he met his girlfriend’s parents trailed off at the end. His girlfriend declared she loved him regardless of her parents’ opinion, but Fozzie blew her off. Fozzie had a few sneaky risqué lines for an 8pm family comedy. The storyline could’ve been a satire of folks that don’t tolerate any relationships they perceive as ‘other.’ Fozzie initially tried all he could to impress the parents. By the end, he didn’t care.
The rest of the episode lightly sketched the role of the other muppets. Some have yet to appear. Gonzo had the winky meta line about the lazy device of characters telling the camera what they think before the other footage contradicts what the character said a moment ago. Gonzo’s usually the audience proxy. Gonzo-as-Dickens is one of my favorite cinematic characters, but Gonzo barely appeared afterwards. The funniest line in the trailer, given to Gonzo, about Gonzo and Miss Piggy starring in six movies together after she doesn’t recognize him was cut or will appear in a later episode. (Miss Piggy also barely recognizes Fozzie). I’d watch more episodes to see how the writers use the other characters. The Muppets are a great ensemble. Each Muppets plays an integral part in making up the whole. I’d like the show to be more than Kermit and Miss Piggy, though I know it primarily is.
The Muppets are The Muppets. I like The Muppets. They’re not Jim Henson’s Muppets, but Jason Segel captured the spirit of The Muppets. Bill Prady worked for Henson. The most what can ask of a Muppets show or series is simple: a smile, a chuckle, a healthy, full laugh, and to like spending them with Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rizzo, and the rest. The series, more likely than not, will provide those things for people every week. The adult humor’s sneaky. I noticed tonight and last night the more overt adult jokes in the 8-9PM timeslot. Overall, it’s a fine show. It won’t blow you away, but it’ll do a little of what I listed above. And that’s not a bad thing.
-Riki Lindholm’s the Hollywood It girl. She played Fozzie’s girlfriend. She guest starred in Fresh Off The Boat. Her Comedy Central series, Another Period, is the best new comedy of 2015.
-The Swedish Chef previously appeared in an ABC LOST webisode. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse strolled through the cafeteria for lunch. Damon couldn’t get service. Carlton could because he spoke the Chef’s language. I thought it delightful then, and now. Ah, Darlton.