The Muppets, Premiere: A Review.

Show: The Muppets.
Episode: 1.
Season: 1.
Made by: ABC Studios and The Muppets Studio.
Running Time: 24 min.
Released: 2015.

The Muppets is the latest televised incarnation from The Muppets franchise created by Bill Prady and Bob Kushell. It is an American made sitcom based on the behind-the-scenes lives of the various casts and crew of a fictional talk show “Up Late with Ms. Piggy,” told in a mockumentary style format.

The documentary/mockumentary style of the show was actually one of the enjoyable parts about this episode, and they paid attention to detail in keeping with the style of one, such as the odd moment of shaky cam, and framing shots designed to look like someone trying to film in tight corners (peeking in on a conversation between Kermit and Ms. Piggy). The design of the puppets remains the standard of what is expected from a contemporary muppets production, with a few new background muppets that were adequately designed. Denise’s design was…awkwardly serviceable. There has been contention that she is depicted as a younger and skinnier replacement of Ms. Piggy, and I would agree there seems to be some truth to this, particularly with how her personality is portrayed so far. There is also similarities particularly to the earlier incarnations of Ms. Piggy from the original muppets from the 1980’s in her design, She does stand separate just enough visually from Ms. Piggy to be her own character.

The characters themselves were for the most part good. Kermit (Steve Whitmire) plays a decent aggrieved boss man just getting over a relationship with a co-worker, Ms. Piggy (Eric Jacobson), with some long suffering moments akin to said awkward post-breakup, but there is also care and dry humour in him that balances out the negative moments, he is definitely the star of this episode. Fozzie (also Eric Jacobson) was himself as the unfunny but optimistic bear, even in a romantic relationship (despite its awkwardness here and there), and that static nature of him was enjoyable to see, particularly as he balances out Kermit’s more serious inclinations.

Now for the, well, pig in the room, Denise.

Denise (Julianne Buescher) is…*deep sigh*. To begin with her voice was startling, and a little off putting, coming out of a muppet, though her walking innuendo tonality somewhat works with the type of character she plays, so after you get over that annoying factor you realize its reluctantly appropriate. Personality and story wise she seems to have nothing else going for her so far, nothing that makes her unique except to be there as Kermit’s girlfriend, the young sexy office relation trope variety. Hopefully she will improve with later episodes, but right now she is the least enjoyable.

The story for the show was actually really enjoyable. The plot flows well with the mockumentary style, the fact that this is very similar to The Office (2005-2013) is likely no surprise to anyone, but the use of the muppets working through the show’s premise with all the strong personalities (for the most part) and the wacky nostalgia that was the muppets wraps all together for an interesting viewing for the most part. The side arc of Fozzie and his relationship was the weakest of the plot, and felt a little forced, though was somewhat saved within the culmination of the arc in the conversation between Fozzie and his girlfriend, did illicit an amused snort.

Speaking of the humour, it is hit or miss, depending on the individual, with Kermit being the definite winner for the most amusement factor through his dead pan deliveries. The humour inherent in the set-up was adequately utilized with just the right amount of adult humour to remind you of why this show is prime-time. It is also the more adult themed humour and other content is likely to put some viewers up in arms, but to remind those that might have umbrage with it, the original Muppet Show from the 80’s was actually originally geared towards an adult audiences.

Overall the show had a rather interesting start to the show with some good use of parody and mockumentary, Kermit the frog and his character’s trials and his dry wit, and so on. A few things were forced here and there, and Denise was one dimensional, even for a puppet. Still what are wrong with it could be easily remedied further episodes in, so it’s well worth the watch.


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