Well, here we are, folks, the penultimate episode of season one of Muppets Now.
I’ve gotta admit, I’m at a bit of a loss on how to word this review. Not because I don’t have thoughts about the episode, or even the show as a whole. It comes down to the fact that every review before this one has already stated exactly how I feel about Muppets Now.
Do I like Muppets Now? Yup. Am I happy to have new Muppet content in my life? You betcha. Am I especially happy that my Fridays now have a purpose instead of just being another day that blurs together with all of the others for five months and counting? Absolutely.
But much like the reviews for episodes two, three, and four have stated, at this point… I get it? Like, yes, Taye Diggs and Miss Piggy do have decent chemistry. Yup, the Swedish Chef is really not great at cooking compared to the guest chefs. Mmhmm, Bunsen and Beaker can’t decide if they want to educate me or do a big comedic gag.
I will admit, I am enjoying Muppets Now more than I did when the show first started. I feel like this show found its footing and peaked in its enjoyment for me around episode three, but now that we’re five episodes in I find that I’m kind of feeling bored with what we keep being given?
I was actually pretty relieved there was no Swedish Chef segment in this episode, after the first four episodes all had one. As Evan pointed out in his wrap up in last week’s review, Swedish Chef is best in short, one to two minute bursts of time. When he’s the star of a whole segment for multiple weeks in a row it just feels so… one note.
Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of this show is starting to feel: one note.
And it’s complicated, because I do enjoy a lot of moments Muppets Now has to offer, and I did find a lot of joy in this one.
It starts off as all the other episodes do – Scooter’s got some kind of problem in getting the episode submitted on time. Chip the I.T. Guy decided that the perfect moment to do an upgrade on Scooter’s computer system was in the 23 minute lead up to when the episode needs to be done. It’s a very brief opener, but I did like getting to see more of Chip.
We then dive right into a Lifestyle segment (they emphasize the Sty in this one, which feels more appropriate to hammer home in episode one as opposed to episode five). In this one, Piggy’s giving travel tips. They’re all pretty much the same ol’ same ol’ – Piggy gives advice and then either immediately goes against her own words or provides some kind of physical comedy.
My favorite part of this Lifestyle was, surprisingly, the appearance of the Swedish Chef teaching Piggy how to say a Swedish phrase. He’s on screen for a total of 25 seconds – the perfect amount of screen time for the Swedish Chef!
Taye Diggs and Linda Cardellini are still around, which at this point isn’t much of a surprise. While a part of me wishes there were different celebrity guests on each Lifestyle segment, I suppose if we had to see the same people over and over again I’m glad it’s them. Both Diggs and Cardellini seem to be having a good time and have no problem going with the flow of what the show throws at them. Taye Diggs smoothly attempts to get Piggy to come out of her shell by trying some strange foods (which she secretly feeds to Foo-Foo), and then Linda Cardellini teaches Foo-Foo some tricks (much to Piggy’s chagrin).
Also we see Beverly Plume in the Le Chat Room (along with “Some Bunny”), so both Bev and the Chef still get to make brief appearances despite the cooking segment (thankfully) not being in this episode.
We then move onto my favorite segment of the episode: Muppet Masters!
Up until now, we’ve only seen one installment of this segment all the way back in the pilot. I was excited when we first saw Muppet Masters since I like Walter and was happy to know he’d be around on this show. Then the next three episodes came and went and Walter was nowhere to be seen, so I’m grateful he finally resurfaced.
Overall, this Muppet Masters is pretty wonderful. We haven’t gotten a ton of Walter and Deadly team ups in the past, so to see these two interact is a whole lot of fun. The intense overdramatic-ness of Deadly compared with the quiet earnestness of Walter does good for the heart. Plus there’s something really delightful about Walter being so enthusiastic about stage combat and already knowing all of the facts, whereas Deadly lives for the theater but continually gets his history and stage combat knowledge wrong. Deadly calling the parts of the sword the “grabby part”, the “slashy bit”, and the “stabby end” honestly made me laugh out loud.
I find myself wishing for more of this tone in the rest of Muppets Now. Here we’re given two characters who don’t get a lot of screen time together, but so much comedy comes from their varying personality types. What’s more, Walter’s given a chance to play the straight man to the on screen comedy, which usually we rely on Kermit to do, so it’s nice to have someone else take on that role for a change. And finally, while Deadly is great as Piggy’s right hand man, it’s nice to see him not in her shadow and get a moment to steal the limelight.
Next, onto Pepe’s show, and… I don’t have much to say? If you’ve seen the previous segments of Pepe’s Game Show, it’s basically that.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this segment. Of all the reoccurring segments, this one is probably my favorite. I think Bill’s doing a lot of great line deliveries and his comedic timing is really shining. Normally I can’t do large doses of Pepe, but giving him Scooter and a couple unknown but oddly charming actors I think really reels him in.
I do want to say that I really liked the goat in this segment. Like, really really. I was so happy when it kept screaming and kept coming back onto the stage to cause more mayhem. I would love that goat to be on the show more. Please, Muppets Now, more goat!
(I’ll also note that the Swedish Chef made a second brief appearance – brief being the keyword as to why this appearance also worked. He comes out to help Eddie assemble some furniture – the word IKEA is never said, but come on, we all know that’s the joke – and getting to see the Swedish Chef be bad at something other than cooking feels oddly refreshing.)
We then come to Muppet Labs, which is… fine? Much like Pepe’s Game Show segment, if you’ve seen any of the previous segments then it’s pretty much the same. Bunsen and Beaker have a hydraulic press and squish a lot of squishable items – toothpaste, a jelly doughnut, stress balls, etc. When squishing the squishable just isn’t satisfying enough for Bunsen, a lady on the machine’s helpline says, “Well, our warranty doesn’t cover it, but maybe try upping the emotional pressure and see what happens.”
Bunsen then takes items from Beaker’s past, like a trophy and his first ever microscope, and then proceeds to squish those. It ends with Beaker getting his hand stuck under the press when trying to save an old teddy bear. It’s weird, I know we’re so desensitized to Beaker going through physical harm, but watching Bunsen destroy important relics and memories of Beaker’s made me kind of sad. Bunsen’s gotten pretty devious in the torment of his lab assistant.
And lastly, we’re taken back to Scooter, who’s relieved the update is complete, only to find out that the whole thing was patched so his computer would now have… filters? This ending felt a bit lackluster, though I suppose that was the point.
Much like what’s already been stated by fellow ToughPigs writers, I do want to see Muppets Now continue. There’s a lot that didn’t work in season one of The Muppet Show and a lot that did as well. I think that Muppets Now is on the right track, but it feels stuck in the same one note-ness that the Muppets as a whole have been in for the past few years.
We know what the Muppets are capable of. I want to see these segments broadened, expanded, and pushed to new limits. I want to see even more segment variety that the show could pull from, so we wouldn’t be getting the same ones for multiple episodes in a row. I want big, physical comedy. I want to see characters in scenes together who you wouldn’t expect – like Walter and Deadly. I want to see characters out of their elements – like Swedish Chef. I want to see Piggy do anything else than what she keeps on doing.
I want more from the Muppets, and this is not a bad thing because I know that the Muppets are more than capable of giving more. Hopefully these first few episodes will give way to something bigger, brighter, and more sensational. I wouldn’t put it past them.
MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): I’m gonna give it to Deadly. He pulls double duty in this one, being Miss Piggy’s backup while also stealing the spotlight in Muppet Masters.
SMVM (Second Most Valuable Muppet): I really loved that goat.
MMM (Most Missed Muppet): Y’all, I miss Gonzo.
Best Joke: MILKSHAKES! ARE! FOR! CLOSERS!
Missed Opportunity: You know how that hilarious goat kept coming back out to scream, spit, and make noise throughout the rest of Pepe’s bit? It would’ve been funny if it came back out right as Scooter was finishing the episode.
One More Thing: On the screen of Scooter’s computer, there’s definitely a file that reads “Veterinarian’s Hospital Spec Sheet” and y’all, I can only dream.
Okay, One More Thing: When Piggy was giving advice about bringing your dog along as a “service animal” I realized that she is 100% the kind of person who would lie about her not behaved pet to get them on the plane with her.
Click here to squish the squishable on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Julia Gaskill