I still can’t believe how awesome it is every time we get new Muppets content that shows how much effort and love went into it. What a gift. This episode made me very happy, both as a Muppets fan and a Beatles fan.
At first I tried to summarize each individual plotline, but it turns out they’re all connected in a rather impressive way. When I realized that, I had to make a flowchart:
Tensions start to rise within the band when Penny (dressed all in black) starts hanging out during jam sessions and then singing along in a screechy voice, establishing her as the Yoko Ono of the metaphor. And while I don’t love jokes at Yoko’s expense, this one obviously had to be done. It’s been previously established that Dr. Teeth has a new girlfriend and they’re obnoxiously in love. I get it, you gotta do the Yoko thing.
The fighting among the band members is actually really well written. Floyd tells Janice, “You can’t write a love song about yourself, it goes against the laws of nature,” but I dare him to tell that to Lizzo. Teeth and Floyd have a nice-off and it’s adorable. Lips says they called him a “chryshmanthemum,” which is also adorable and not inaccurate:
The whole thing gives just the right level of absurdity while also showing how one disagreement can become “a gateway fight to deeper, more personal issues,” and how fighting about those deeper issues can devolve into fighting about soup.
I was surprised and touched when the various threads came together. Janice tells Nora, “Love is hard for most people,” and Dr. Teeth says “But we’re not most people” and officially changed the name from “Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem” to just “The Electric Mayhem”.
For an episode that’s basically one big Beatles tribute, it doesn’t have a ton of Beatles references/Easter eggs:
- Nora says, “for years, audiences across the universe…”
- JJ telling Animal “Get back!”
- Kevin Smith tells the band he wants them to ignore the camera and “act naturally.”
- “Yesterday” is written on this excellent calendar:
- Floyd’s “Mr. Bassman” sticker: As Joe pointed out, “Paul McCartney famously had a similar sticker reading “BASSMAN” on his bass guitar, as seen in the documentary miniseries Get Back (also on Disney+! Synergy!). And of course, Floyd famously sang the song “Mr. Bassman” with Scooter during the first season of The Muppet Show.”
- JJ running from Animal and yelling “Help, I need somebody!”
- The whole Penny = Yoko thing.
- Lips mumbling “Love, love me do.”
- Floyd says “Just like the dark horse himself, George Harrison”—Dark Horse was George’s 1974 solo album.
- The rooftop concert, of course.
- Hannah to Moog: “Let it be.”
It might seem like a lot to the average viewer, but The Powerpuff Girls episode “Meet the Beat-Alls” had way, way more. Between this fan video breakdown, this Beatles fan site forum thread, and my own nerd cred, I counted a whopping seventy-two Beatles references in only nine minutes. “Meet the Beat-Alls” works because it’s still the hardest Commit to the Bit I’ve ever seen; it was almost nothing but the bit.
If The Muppets Mayhem had tried to top that, it wouldn’t have worked. The Powerpuff Girls is mostly lighthearted adventures, with the occasional bit of character growth, and maybe a dash of wisdom thrown in once in a while. The Muppets Mayhem has much more sincerity, depth, and complexity, and I’m so grateful for that. They gave us real character growth, humor that goes deeper than one-liners, and a hard truth about love.
Most Valuable Muppet: Lips may have misunderstood the assignment a couple times, but he always brings the star power!
Most Valuable Human: Gotta give it over to Kevin Smith. You can tell he’s psyched to be working with the Muppets, so the band embracing him as their long-time “Broshi,” their “Bro Pesci,” their “Broey Ramone,” their “Broseph Gordon-Levitt” feels genuine. He beautifully sums everything up after Nora’s realization, and Dr. Teeth observes, “Well, whaddya know. Silent Bob drops some knowledge at the end of the movie.”
Musical Highlight: Which do I love more, the Mayhem’s sincere cover of the timeless classic “All You Need is Love,” or Floyd writing “a boilin’ hot soup-centric love song out of sheer spite”? How can I choose??
Best Joke: I can’t stand wearing turtleneck sweaters, but I almost want to start doing so just so I can say “You’re jealous I got a sweater that turtles my neck!”
Weakest Joke: “Tell Lips he’s adopted!” is written on the calendar on April 1st. I do love the idea that the band has to remind themselves of their April Fool’s Day prank, and has presumably done so where Lips could clearly see it. But it’s 2023—can we stop making adoption jokes now, please?
First Appearance of: Zoot’s talking shoe, Jimmy.
Notable Muppet Fan Easter Egg: Animal’s “I <3 NY” T-shirt from The Muppet Takes Manhattan, and doodles of Kermit on the calendar.
Notable Cameo: There are a lot of cameos in this one, but of course Morgan Freeman is the biggest pull.
Coolest Puppet Trick: While “Walk Like an Egyptian” is not un-problematic, seeing Lips do it is kind of great.
Adultiest Content: Surprisingly there’s no implication of sex or drugs in this episode, but they do have “TAXES!!” written on the calendar on April 15th.
One More Thing: I once got brought in as a ringer to my friend’s trivia night when the theme was going to be the Muppets. When the answer to one question was this band, the host tried to say I got it wrong because they were listed as “Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem” on Muppet Wiki and I was like no, just “The Electric Mayhem” is also accurate because that’s how he introduces them in The Muppet Movie and both names are used interchangeably, so we got the point back. Thank you, Dr. Teeth, for retroactively vindicating me.
Okay, One More Thing: At the very end, Peter Jackson (who directed Get Back) comes in with his film crew. Animal calls him “Precious” and runs up to hug him. Floyd says they “haven’t seen you since that night in Wellington… when we met the Feebles…” PJ says “Yeah, that was a bad night. Two of the Feebles are in witness protection. The rest are in prison.” Electric Mayhem/Feebles crossover movie when?
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by Beth Cook