The Muppets belong on television. As much as I absolutely loved the most recent two films, The Muppet Show is really where these characters were most able to shine, and the episodic format just seems so right for them. Luckily, Disney and ABC have realized that, and the Muppets are back on television! It’s happening!
ABC has just released this first look presentation, a 10 minute pitch that was screened to the network and later shown at Comic-Con. If you were at all worried about the new series living up to the classic era of Muppets, or maybe concerned that it’s being run by some of the creators of The Big Bang Theory, this should be plenty to get you excited. It couldn’t be more perfect.
If you saw the trailer ABC put out a while back, this is basically just an extended version of that, but it’s still full of so many great gags and a better sense of what the pacing of the series will be like.
This is exactly what a new Muppets show should look like, and I couldn’t be more happy with the footage. Let’s start by saying that yes, the new show looks very funny. That’s really the main criteria we should be judging it by, and the trailer is full of so many classic Muppets gags while mixing in some more modernized humor. Bunsen got Beaker horribly injured! Fozzie attempted lame jokes! Swedish Chef made Swedish sushi! This all just felt so right. If Jim Henson were alive today, he’d probably be making something like this.
It’s also really exciting that the new show will give a lot of the side characters more time to shine. In a 90 minute film, it’s really hard to pack in everyone fans would want out of the literally hundreds of characters, but this trailer alone is just absolutely packed with minor players. Rizzo’s here! Pepe gets a line! The Muppets has one of the best “casts” of any franchise out there, and I can’t wait to see the show make use of all of them over the course of the first season.
There were celebrity cameos, too! In this presentation we get brief appearances by Elizabeth Banks and Topher Grace, and even though this is really early footage, they’re both utilized really well. The celebrity guests interacting with the Muppets was always a really important part of this series, and the new show seems to fully understand that. Let’s hope they can get some awesome guests on for the early episodes.
What about the documentary style? It seems to be working out alright, and the bit with Gonzo’s meta criticism of it is pretty funny, but I hope the new series doesn’t rely too heavily on the cutaways to interviews. Something about that just seems unlike the Muppets’ sensibilities to me, and I think we’re all kind of getting tired of the comedy format of characters talking directly to the camera. The fact that the show is criticizing that in a meta way doesn’t make me any less worried about it.
The one remaining wish I have for the new series is that we’ll see a good amount of the actual variety show that the Muppets are putting on. I’m assuming that the series will be kind of a 30 Rock type thing where we follow the Muppets as they’re putting on a variety show, kind of like the original series but this time we have more of a behind the scenes look. That way, the show can still include musical bits and crazy stage antics, as that’s always been one of the best things about the Muppets. I hope they don’t plan to focus too much on the behind the scenes content and leave out all the on stage segments.
Although within the show’s universe, what exactly is the TV series they’re doing for ABC? Because in the footage it seems like they’re doing a classic variety show type thing and getting everyone together for that. Yet the discussion about cutting to one-on-one interviews makes it seem like the show we’re watching is the actual show they’re doing. But then it doesn’t make sense that Kermit is worried about getting the show started, because we’re watching him, and so obviously the show is happening right now? Right? Am I making any sense?
Basically, I’m hoping the structure of the show will be that within the series’ universe, everything on stage is the show within the show, and things like Fozzie at home and Kermit driving are all the behind the scenes of them making the show. As opposed to any time they’re on camera being considered the show. This is probably putting way too much thought into the Muppets, huh?
Anyway, this was awesome, and I’m so happy it exists. Thank you to Jason Segel for reviving the franchise so that we could make it to this point. Long live the Muppets!