Critique, Geek Culture, Opinion, TV

Can’t We Just Call It The Miss Piggy Show: A Review of The Muppets

miss piggys poster art promotional abc dot comHave you heard? The Muppets are back. Again. This time they are coming to you during primetime, and competing with shows such as NCIS and Scream Queens. But this isn’t The Muppets Show variety-sketch format of olden days (by olden, I mean 1970s to 1980s). This version of The Muppets will take us into their personal lives, documentary-style, with direct talk from the cast to cameramen in one-on-one interviews. Think The Office or Modern Family… with Muppets.

Going into the premiere episode, Pig Girls Don’t Cry (Pilot), I was inundated with worries. I worried the portrayal of Miss Piggy as a selfish, overbearing, stubborn, never happy, insatiable woman of Hollywood would be a major turn-off. I worried about not wanting to know what’s going on in the Muppets lives when they aren’t trying to solve silly capers or stop a billionaire from demolishing the Muppet Theater. Most of all, I worried all the cameos wouldoverpower any real chance of taking this show seriously. That’s a lot of worry for show with only thirty minutes of air time each week.

So, how much of it is going to be Miss Piggy vs Kermit the Frog?

As it turns out – a lot of it. This is a big thing on the show. I can’t remember what day I first heard the official news of the end of Kermit and Miss Piggy as a couple. I know it was a couple of months ago and I can remember thinking that people were eating it up on social media. I’d seen a tweet or two questioning if those two (Kermit and Piggy) couldn’t make it, what was the hope for the rest of us? Well, thankfully they are just puppet characters and if I had to theorize, I’d say the overall story arc of this season will be their eventual reconciliation.

If not, I think we’ll all be okay.

Stills from promotional video The Muppets ABC dot com GonzoThe Muppets getting the most amount of airtime this episode were Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, and Scooter.  

Gonzo did not get enough airtime.

Instead of a brief overview, I decided to go through each segment and give my reactions and theories.

Segment 1

The show begins with Kermit, executive producer, complaining about parking under a huge promo sign of Miss Piggy who he refers to as his “ex.” Poor Kermit.

There is fast forward intro set in the break room where all the Muppets pass through and leave Kermit with nothing. Poor Kermit. Again.

Stills from promotional video The Muppets ABC dot com Miss Piggy2The real first scene begins at the writers table for Miss Piggy’s show Up Late with Miss Piggy. No one is listening to Kermit. Beaker gets electrocuted to get everyone’s attention. Kermit then tells Mr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem, the show’s band, to stop playing when Miss Piggy starts her interview. Bobo the Bear is asked to use a wire that can support her weight, about which Bobo makes a passive aggressive comment. Fozzie is worried about meeting his girlfriend’s parents and Gonzo complains in his one-on-one interview that one-on-one interviews are an overused device. I disagree with Gonzo. I think they are used just enough.

Piggy makes unreasonable demands and Kermit responds with comments such as “uh, talk to God about lilacs” and warns Scooter to “save himself.” Their conversation ends with Piggy refusing to have Elizabeth Banks as a guest on the next evening’s show. Poor Kermit. Diva Pig. Great chemistry.

Fozzie warms up the audience with jokes and my favorite hecklers, Statler and Waldorff, make jokes of their own. The viewer doesn’t get to see the show. Instead, we get another one-on-one from Kermit calling Piggy a lunatic. Not to mention the ending scene is Kermit calling his life “a bacon wrapped Hell on Earth.” I’m slightly over the “poor Kermit” deal by now.

The first segment is fast moving and I think this pace sets the tone for how each segment will be structured. I’ve already chuckled a couple of times and this is a good thing. No cameos yet. The setup is straightforward, Miss Piggy is a diva and Kermit is the overworked, underappreciated frog who makes everything run smoothly.

Segment 2

Still from promotional video abc dot com Fozzie Bear 1Kermit has a sit down with Tom Bergeron who will be the substitute guest. He then insults Bergeron’s lack of star power when Tom hasn’t quite left the room. It’s an awkward moment which may fall flat if you aren’t a Dancing with the Stars fan.

Skip to Fozzie driving while on his one-on-one interview on the way to his date. And then we are at date night with the parents. Poor Fozzie — Kim’s parents constantly question the validity of their relationship. I’m not going to name names, but there is some distracting overacting going on in this scene.

Gonzo pitches a comedy-sketch segment for Bergeron. It’s funny. Enter Kermit’s new girlfriend Denise. In a one-on-one Kermit explains how he and Denise met. She brings him food and refers to him as “sweetie.” I’m a conspiracy theorist hobbyist and looking for the angle in everything. So I’m going to also theorize that Denise’s sweetness is an act and she’s trying to get a spot on the show.

Cut back to Fozzie and the parents, and this is where I’m starting to really lose interest.

Miss Piggy’s workout with Traci Anderson. All scenes with Piggy are good. I’m biased, as she’s one of my favorite pig characters overshadowed only by Peppa Pig.

And back to Denise and Kermit discussing Piggy’s dislike for Elizabeth Banks. We’re shown a pretty funny video of Piggy’s and Banks’s screen test for The Hunger Games. Kermit decides to go against Piggy’s wishes, and Denise is the supportive girlfriend. I’m just going to say it. Kermit and Denise have zero chemistry. I’m already rooting for a quick breakup.

Segment 3

Back to the writer’s table, Kermit announces the decision to go with Elizabeth Banks as the night’s guest. Gonzo thinks he’s crazy to go against Piggy. Foreshadowing or common sense? Their plan is to hide it from Piggy but Banks shows up early. Scooter gets a one-on-one and I think he should get many, many more.

Scooter takes Banks on a complimentary tour to keep her away from Miss Piggy. Fist fight between Scooter and Banks. Banks wins. As she should.

Fozzie shows up with girlfriend’s parents in an attempt to impress them with his job on the show. It does not end well.

Front man Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons tries to convince Animal to go on the road with them.

Awkward meet up between Parents, Elizabeth Banks, and Miss Piggy. Viewers are now given the real reason Piggy is upset about Banks in a flashback to Kermit and Miss Piggy having an argument over selfies – which turns into THE break up scene. Kermit broke up with her by an Elizabeth Banks poster. The break up scene is harsh.

Fozzie’s girlfriend confesses her love. Fozzie prefers to impress her parents.

Kermit apologizes to Piggy for being insensitive. They call a truce and promise to be honest, so Piggy slams Kermit’s new girlfriend and his weight gain. If you are keeping score, Piggy wins all the points.

Finally to the Up Late show. I say finally because I really think I’d prefer to see more of Piggy interviewing actors/comedians as they constantly one up each other. Miss Piggy interviews Banks and it’s predictably filled with tension as Banks makes a joke about Piggy’s plan to have some things “hiked up.” Piggy is not going to forgive easily for that one.

Segment 4

Stills from promotional video The Muppets ABC dot com HecklersImagine Dragons performs “Rock Bottom” as the credits roll. I love them. I wish I’d gotten the full song.

And the show ends with Statler and Waldorff heckling everyone as they look for the exit.

I didn’t hate it but I wasn’t wowed either. Facial expressions are lacking on Muppets and sometimes that’s the tipping point to making a one-on-one interview really work. Two of my worries were squashed after this episode. I don’t mind Miss Piggy portrayed as a diva. Her inability to remember names of anyone is funny. I also didn’t mind the cameos. They were well chosen and well placed for this first episode.

That leaves me facing my initial worry that I wouldn’t like the look into the lives of the Muppets. I didn’t.  It just didn’t work for me. And honestly, Fozzie’s the only one we got to see out of the behind the scenes of the show. Even though Gonzo is against it, I vote for more one-on-ones from characters who can bring the funny just with their voice. Like Gonzo and Piggy.

But mostly Piggy.