Over the past few years, the Muppets have had quite a pop culture renaissance, between witty YouTube videos (featuring Swedish Chef amongst other characters), the short-lived Muppets Tonight TV series, and a pair of big-screen movies—including last year’s Muppets Most Wanted. But this fall, they’ll make their way back to television, but not in the usual way.
A far departure from their Muppet Show in the 70’s, The Muppets follows the characters through a contemporary setting as they’re asked to do a TV show in the style of The Office, complete with jump cuts to individual interviews and spontaneous situations. The first episode—viewable below—details just how this plays out, as Kermit struggles to bring in one of the key stars of the series, Miss Piggy. A task easier said than done, since they’re now on-the-outs after years of happiness.
The door’s wide open for great situations. With this new format, stories have a way of expanding even further than the crew’s shenanigans at the theater. For instance, we learn that Fozzie Bear has somehow gotten into a relationship with a human girl (something her parents clearly question), and how Miss Piggy has hooked up with, of all people, Topher Grace. Of course, they’re silly scenarios, but that’s just part of the fun of the show. They’re supposed to be silly.
The humor’s great for all audiences. Where most sitcoms can’t be watched by young kids because the jokes can be a little too risqué for their own good (reruns of Married…With Children, anyone?), The Muppets seems to settle in to an all-ages audience – and that’s a win for the youngens and adult fans alike. Sure, some of the jokes may be contemporary jabs (Kermit can’t help but admit that he’s attracted to pigs as he eyes a new intern), but it’s all in good fun, just as the Muppets are known for.
ABC’s a great outlet for audiences. With movies, The Muppets ran into problems because they couldn’t quite generate the box office as Disney’s other cash cows, namely its Marvel movies. However, network television seems like an ideal fit for them, as viewers can easily tune in—just as they did in the 70’s—and catch all the fun. That’s not to say we shouldn’t get another Muppets movie (we should), but, for now, it’s very accessible. Not to mention the fact that, airing on Tuesday nights, it’ll be a nice lead in for the popular Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The characters are still great. Even though the likes of the late Jim Henson and Frank Oz aren’t involved with the show, there are still plenty of great puppeteers involved with The Muppets to give it life. And, let’s be honest, Gonzo and Animal haven’t changed a bit, based on the pilot above. On top of that, seeing more obscure characters get the spotlight would be a good thing for this show, expanding its scope and allowing even more ideas to get on the board. That could last for seasons to come. (And, hey, how about a devoted Swedish Chef episode? Like maybe his family shows up and they all talk like him?)
Guest stars. Finally, it appears that a lot of famous faces will make their way to The Muppets, and that’s a good thing. The debut episode features Topher Grace and Elizabeth Banks, and many more are likely to pop by as the weeks go on. Hey, we just want to see Kathy Griffin show up and make out with Animal again. (Remember Muppets From Space? Yeah, a match made in heaven. Or hell, you get the idea.)
The Muppets will make its debut this fall on the ABC Network. Are you excited? Let us know in the comments!