The Muppets have returned to television in the US in their new series for ABC.
The debut drew nearly 9 million viewers well ahead of Scream Queens‘ 4 million viewers.
But critics appear to have some concerns with the direction of the show, under Big Bang‘s Bill Prady.
Seven has the rights for Australia but has not confirmed an airdate as yet.
“The result is pleasant enough, but something of a mixed bag. Cleverly, the documentary crew is chronicling a late-night TV show within the show, “Up Late With Miss Piggy,” whose mercurial star runs roughshod over her producer/ex-boyfriend, Kermit the Frog. The venue not only allows for inside-Hollywood jokes, but creates a convenient excuse to bring in guest stars like (in the premiere) Elizabeth Banks and Tom Bergeron, playing themselves, a la a felt-covered “Entourage.”
“That original presentation has been absorbed into the first two Muppets episodes sent to critics — like a biologically weaker twin, only a biologically weaker twin that happened to be tighter and more efficiently funny. Several jokes from that presentation remain, but for both the recycling and the flabbier nature of the overall product, they don’t hit as hard. The polished nature of that presentation may have set a false expectation that The Muppets was ready to arrive fully formed, while the first two episodes are typical of most comedy pilots: more potential than achievement.”
Los Angeles Times
“It is perhaps the most controversial series of the fall television season, a dark reworking of old children’s tales in which the world is stood on its head and darkness comes out of the light. I speak of course of The Muppets, which begins Tuesday on ABC. Certainly, if the question is, can you make a dark, slightly depressing series starring the Muppets, the answer, obviously, is yes. Is this an inappropriate use of the characters? I don’t know. Is it strange? Certainly.”
“Just the simple presence of the Muppets back on primetime television is cause for joy, but that doesn’t mean Jim Henson’s beloved creations can do no wrong. And grown-ups rife with nostalgia for the old The Muppet Show – carefully stoked by corporate parent Disney with two recent films – might find their latest TV exploits, simply titled The Muppets, more than a little disconcerting.”
“You might think you know how this travesty happened. You might think the Muppet franchise wound up in the hands of some hipster who pitched a radical new reboot of a beloved family favourite. You would be wrong. The man responsible for this new Muppet iteration is Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady, who worked with Jim Henson on no less than six Muppet shows, specials and movies. Prady is no cynical hipster; he has Muppet blood running through his veins. You might think Prady’s heart was in the right place. You might think that attempting to show these familiar characters in a brand new context was a bold move that ought to be applauded. Again, you would be wrong.”
“The Muppets isn’t a total write-off… and we need to remember that it’s still early days; given time, The Muppets might eventually nail the proper Henson tone. But for now, there’s nowhere near enough emotion. At their best, the Muppets tended to peddle the sort of all-encompassing Technicolor joy that made your eyes prickle with tears. That’s nowhere to be seen here. This is a cynic’s version of The Muppets, plain and simple. If it makes you cry at all, it’s because it broke your heart.”
“The show can be modernized, and the humour aimed at parents watching with their kids can be made ever so slightly more adult, but the Muppets themselves still have to be the Muppets. And almost all of them feel off here. I’m not reluctant to show this to my kids because of some of the double-entendres, but because I don’t want them to see a version of the Muppets that, for now, is so utterly lacking in joy.”
The A.V. Club
“The Muppets have definitely been faster, furrier, and more furious with their joke-telling in other venues. A better version of the show peeks out whenever the plot relents and the characters are allowed to let fly with a knowingly groan-worthy play on words, a throwaway non sequitur, or any other hallmark of the Jim Henson school of humour.”
“At times, ABC’s The Muppets feels like less like an attempt to bring the Muppets back to TV than it does an attempt to create a new, familiar-formatted TV comedy that just so happens to star The Muppets. It’s as if nothing is truly safe from the ‘darker, edgier’ reboot clause. But it’s not a total loss. In the end, it’s still about these characters all working together to air a TV show and that in itself manages to create some funny moments throughout.”