Two episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
Following last year’s somewhat middling reaction to Muppets Most Wanted, the titular gang returns this fall with a mockumentary spin in ABC’s The Muppets, which aims to provide viewers an inside look at the day-to-day life of everyone from Kermit to Rowlf as they scurry to keep Miss Piggy’s new talk show from going up in flames. Succeeding largely thanks to the kinetic energy that the mostly felt-infused cast brings to the screen, along with an irreverent spirit that stays true to the franchise and a penchant for the bizarre, the new show is funny, boisterous, adorable, charming and damn near irresistible.
Following a very public break-up (and one of the most ingenious ad campaigns in recent memory), Kermit has found himself in a bit of a pickle: he’s now the lead producer of his ex-girlfriend’s popular talk show “Up Late with Miss Piggy,” and the rift between the two hasn’t exactly stabilized. That’s thanks in part to a new pig in Kermit’s life, Denise, and any number of five-alarm fires that he and the gang – centering around Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Scooter – must put out to ensure the show goes off without a hitch every night. It’s certainly a behind-the-scenes aspect that the characters have tackled before, but put firmly front-and-center this time around.
And that’s where the new Muppets may surprise you: it’s not exactly a ten-year-old’s idea of entertainment. The show is stock full of brilliant sight gags and the screen at times is overflowing in tufts and explosions of a revolving door of the series’ most eclectic characters (Beaker! Pepe! Uncle Deadly? Sure!) But, at the same time, it’s pure nostalgia for the rest of us, with the show’s most gut-busting bits flying right over the heads of anyone who wasn’t around when their last TV series – Muppets Tonight – went off the air in the late ’90s.
The mockumentary angle is an interesting turn for the property, for sure, and it almost universally succeeds, especially thanks to a set-up that evokes so much of the first season of 30 Rock, in everything from Miss Piggy’s temper tantrums to Kermit’s unequipped-for-this reaction shots. And although The Muppets is far away from “Milf Island,” the first few episodes already show a penchant for skewering its own network’s idiocy, with a few searing remarks on the celebrity and popularity of programs like Dancing with the Stars and its host, Tom Bergeron (who takes it like a champ).