Damn you 2020. First you gave us bushfires, then you gave us COVID-19. Now you give us Muppets Now.
Disney’s new take on all things felt and foam has sucked the life out of a legendary brand, to the point where I am agreeing with Statler and Waldorf. When does the comedy start?
I’m perplexed by what genre these new 30 minute instalments are, and to which audience it is directed.
The premise sees Scooter zooming in to upload new Muppet segments for streaming, but Kermit is worried they may not be completed just yet. Just as others start to Facetime and Zoom in with their editorial input we are whisked away to watching the segments, beginning with Miss Piggy’s LifeSty-le blog.
Joined by her assistant Uncle Deadly, Piggy hosts her beauty treatment with guest actor Taye Diggs, flirting and demanding, as is her persona. There’s muzak throughout, making this like something from Insta-TV, with actor Linda Cardellini zooming in for added input, I have no idea why…
In Muppet Masters, “ring leader, cheerleader, bottom feeder” Kermit gives a DIY on ‘Photobomlammy’ -the art of bombing everybody’s photos before we get to the dreadful Okey Dokey Cookin’. This sees turkey Beverley Plume joined by cook Carlina Will and the Swedish Chef. Are we supposed to know who these celebs are? While the Swedish Chef suitably fumbles up a hapless dish, this is contrasted by an actual cooking lesson -which leaves me confused about the intent. It’s not informative enough to be helpful, nor funny enough to pass as comedy.
Things improve when Kermit interview RuPaul (I’m impressed Disney went there, albeit out of drag). It’s a pleasant chat improved by Howard the Pig, who is fangirling over RuPaul better than Eric Stonestreet could on Modern Family….
In subsequent episodes we get Pepe’s Unbelievable Game Show in which King Prawn Pepe throws out all game show rules with two unsuspecting punters and a frazzled floor manager, Scooter. There’s also Muppet Labs Field Test, a kind of Mythbusters segment with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, sometimes filmed outdoors with more punters… while the latter are non-celebrities, I suspect they are also actors playing a part.
Various other Muppets are also in the mix including Gonzo & chickens, Fozzie Bear, Beauregard, Joe the Legal Weasel and more.
According to production notes this is also an improvised 6 part series, but it doesn’t stand up to the zippy vaudevillian writing -or concept- of the original Muppet Show. I could be more forgiving if this was somehow all produced in lockdown, but I’m not convinced that’s the case.
I might normally suggest this is “one for the fans” but my feeling is true fans may be disappointed by a missed opportunity.
When does the comedy start?
Muppets Now begins Friday July 31 on Disney+