The new take on The Muppets seems unusual, but this is light-hearted fun that makes for a good watch.
The Muppets, a new television sitcom starring the familiar characters, aired last night for the first time in the UK. The show, produced by The Big Bang Theory creators Bill Prady and Bob Kushell, hails from ABC Studios in the States, and features the famous characters being filmed in a mockumentary style, marking their first television show since 1996.
The use of a single-camera set up, in the style of a documentary, has been used a lot in recent television; with shows like The Office, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation all gaining a positive response. Bob Kushell explains that they wanted to produce a Muppets series in this format, so as to uncover more about the characters’ ‘personal lives’: portraying them in a more human way than in previous installments. Admittedly, it sounds like it wouldn’t work; but The Muppets manages to carry off the genre with a distinct charm.
The show centres around Miss Piggy’s late night talk show: ‘Up Late with Miss Piggy’, on which the rest of the muppets serve as part of the production team. Kermit is of course the lead character, so a lot of the episode focuses around him and his attempts to hire compelling guest stars for Miss Piggy’s show. This leads to appearances by Elizabeth Banks, Dancing with the Stars’ Tom Bergeron, and Imagine Dragons.
Meanwhile, Fozzie is going to meet his human girlfriend Becky’s parents. They are obviously not too impressed when their daughter brings home a bear as her boyfriend, so Fozzie sets about trying to charm them by inviting them on to the set of Piggy’s show. Yes; this subplot is as bizarre and cringe- inducing as you probably imagine it to be, but still provides some laughter.
Most of The Muppets franchise is targeted at a family audience, with equal appeal for both adults and children. This show however, is clearly aimed more towards older viewers, and the creative team have managed to pull off this change in tone rather well. There were a lot of adult jokes which certainly made me laugh, such as Sam Eagle’s banning of the word ‘gesticulate’, because apparently moving hands around leads to baby-making, and Kermit’s story of how him and his current girlfriend Denise, also a pig, met whilst “cross-promoting”.
I will admit that there were points within the episode where I felt like joining Statler and Waldorf in their heckling, because the entire premise of the show is peculiar. Any scene involving Denise falls into that category, as I found that relationship weird and a bit too sexy for a frog and pig puppet. However; I will praise The Muppets, because it sees its own ridiculousness and is willing to laugh at itself. This is evident from the fact that one of the opening scenes features Gonzo criticising the stupidity of the one-on-one interview format, before cutting back to him saying that he loves it.
All in all, The Muppets was an enjoyable watch, even if I found it difficult to stomach at times. However these difficulties only arise because we’re so used to seeing these characters in a particular setting, with a specific type of humour. I will be watching the rest of the series, as I’m intrigued to see what other guest stars they managed to acquire. I will also be watching it, because it did what a sitcom is meant to do: it made me smile.
The Muppets airs on Sky 1 on Mondays at 8pm.