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While a lot of classic childhood favorites, such as The Looney Tunes, seem to remain true to their original premise, the Muppets try adapting to what are the expectations and standards of modern television. Question is, does The Muppets lead the brand into a renewed purpose, or will it just drive up sales of their classics to remind you when times were good?
Characters & Story
When we are introduced, Up Late with Ms. Piggy seemingly has been on for a while and it has long since been established that Kermit and Ms. Piggy have broken up. However, while the mainstay couple have moved on, everything else is rather the same. Kermit is the production manager and is arranging for guests, trying to control his zany friends/ co-stars, and all the while trying to not lose his mind.
Which, thanks to Denise, his new girlfriend, it seems he is relatively keeping things calm, cool, and collected. For gone are the days when Electric Mayhem, and especially Animal, couldn’t be reined in and while Gonzo and Fozzy remain the same, it seems they have grown up a bit since we last saw them. Making for an overall perception that while silly things may happen, like Elizabeth Banks and Scooter getting into a tussle, we are in for the treat of a more mature childhood favorite.
My introduction to the Muppets came from watching Muppet Babies as a kid, Muppets Tonight reruns on the Disney Channel while a teenager, as well as seeing The Muppet Movie, and many of the other films they released. So, needless to say, I sort of grew up with the Muppet brand. So seeing them sort of now grow up with me, in terms of maturity, is a little perplexing. For while the Muppets have almost always been about showing us what happens behind the scenes, the premiere episode makes it seem like we are going beyond what we are used to.
For while we knew Ms. Piggy and Kermit were together, as well as Gonzo and Camilla, and that Beaker and Bunsen Honeydew would likely be only a few steps away from one another, it all seems superficial in comparison to what we now have. Partly because now we see the issues of Ms. Piggy and Kermit’s relationship, and how it is post it ending; we see everyone as seasoned professionals who, yeah, still may test Kermit, but pretty much know what can be considered acceptable; and, most of all, while everyone remains the characters we know and love, it seems things are slightly less fun and games now. What we are being presented with is the idea that The Muppets are about more than entertaining us, and making us happy, but also are in a real search for their own happiness.
Something I know is odd to say about a bunch of puppets, but with Animal talking about how he can’t go on the road with Imagine Dragon due to his past womanizing; Fozzy talking about finding love, and how hard it has been for him; among other tidbits, it does seem like we are going far beyond where we ever have before.
Honestly, I’m drawing a blank. Be it because this is one of the few programs which doesn’t seem to take advantage of my 90s nostalgia, or just because it is generally without fault. I mean, perhaps the only issue I can see, and this is nitpicking, is trying to understand if everything that has thus far happened, when it comes to past shows and movies, is canon or not. Which I am only listing as a criticism since so much has happened over the course of 40 years that it would be nice if The Muppets referred to some of their crazy adventures. Sort of like how Girl Meets World refers to Boy Meets World from time to time.
Overall: Watch It
While I’m not really sure if I’ll cover the episodes week to week yet, I’m definitely setting my DVR for this. The main reason being, this brand, the Muppet brand, is probably one of the few which consistently shows how it has lasted generation to generation, after its founder passed, and even when voices and puppeteers change. For there is such a solid foundation, which can be torn down and built back up upon, that it would take a string of awful productions, or perhaps retiring Ms. Piggy and Kermit, for this brand to die.
Now, as for why this is being labeled “Watch It?” Well, because it is a half hour of bliss. Childhood favorites not being stuck where they begin, but sort of maturing, and growing up with you. And yeah, the show is inspired by many a former NBC program, with its documentary style, but with so many established faces that you don’t have to get a feel for, because you already know them, the format just works so well. To the point that if this ends up as short-lived as Muppets Tonight, I will honestly be surprised.