Mitchell Stein- The legendary Jim Henson would often say “Simple is good.” Where this new Muppet show has so far kept trying things moving as fast and cram in as much as possible, this week takes a bit of a slower, simpler approach. Where the general episode would play out to three or even four separate plotlines, this episode plays out to only two smaller plotlines. In a way, this works to the benefit of the show. Things are a bit more focused this way and maybe just a bit simpler, therefore not having the feeling of having anything rushed or left-out. However, although this episode does take a more focused approach, I do find myself thinking that this is my least favorite of the four episodes we’ve seen so far of the new series.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it this week. I adored it, but it feels awfully empty. Simple is good, but maybe this show works a bit better when it’s got more story supporting it. With “The Muppets” finding it’s groove on TV and experimenting what works and what doesn’t, this was just another step in that process. But besides the fact that the plot just feels bare, I don’t have much complaints the way the episode was structured. It’s another really wonderful episode that just allows the Muppets to let loose and get goofy.

It’s silly plot focuses on Piggy who feels left out when she learns that the Muppet troupe gather to let loose after the show at Rowlf’s Tavern without her.  She insists Kermit convince the Muppet staff to invite her to drinks. Without any choice, they allow Piggy to join them (well, either that or she’ll break their arms), where they meet up with actor Ed Helms, get drunk and perform karaoke. And I’m telling you folks- Muppets singing karaoke was probably the best thing ever broadcast in television history.

Meanwhile Fozzie faces a problem after he accidentally injures Statler during the pre-show warmup. Feeling bad, he goes to visit the grumpy old heckler at the hospital, in which he agrees to help Statler out. Returning with all the items Statler asked Fozzie to deliver to him, he’s met with an empty hospital bed with the message of SUCKER in his place. This was actually the subplot that slightly bothered me this week. It’s was a bit funny, but I was actually rooting for the redemption of Statler and the unlikely relationship between the two. It would have opened up a funnier situation in which they are friends than the current storyline that just shows him off as an old grumpy jerk. I feel like there was a lot more potential for this plot that went nowhere. Otherwise, it’s nice to see Fozzie so fleshed out over here, and how dedicated he is to help, even to the guy who was such a jerk to him since 1976. It shows a lot about the good nature of Fozzie and his dedication. You gotta love that bear.

Even though much of the episode is spent in Rowlf’s Tavern, the canine is nowhere to be found. I kind of hope that for future Tavern segments will mean that the characters will be interacting with Rowlf a bit more. Again #WalterWatch continues as our search for our little Muppet fan pal is still missing from the show. We’ll still eagerly wait. If Camilla decides to show up too, I’ll be happy.

Unlike the other episodes, this one only features one guest star appearance by the awesome Ed Helms, which is actually kind of great, but a totally missed joke opportunity in which Helms could have easily mocked the fact that the Muppets are parodying the format of his previous show. Helms appearance felt a bit odd, but I couldn’t bother too much to care, because he worked awesome with the Muppets singing karaoke and getting unstrung. I hope Helms didn’t have a Hangover the next morning. (Wocka Wocka!)

So in all, another great episode of The Muppets. Slightly less fulfilling but certainly a lot more focused this time ’round. Still, there is much the show has to work out, and this is another experimental episode in this changing format as they find their groove. A wonderfully hilarious goofy simple entry in this installment of this amazing weekly series. This week wasn’t perfect, but give or take a few more episodes, and I’m sure it will be.

Other Thoughts:

  • Scooter’s eyes is not a thing that should exist. It cannot be unseen.
  • Sam the Eagle/Janice plot doesn’t quite work. It’s fun to see Sam in this new light but I feel like the only reason they would pair him with Janice is because the lack of female Muppets. I don’t want Janice just to become a plot device, so I hope they’ll create new one-off Muppets if such future stories should come up.
  • Speaking of Sam, it’s the subtle puppetry that works so well.  Sam shyly stepping from side to side while singing a ‘Did you ever know that you’re my hero’ made him so vulnerable.  Great work by the always amazing Eric Jacobson.
  • Fozzie wasn’t at Rowlf’s Tavern the night before, so why didn’t he show up to work on time? Does he just regularly show up late?
  • Discussing this with Jarrod, he points out an interesting characteristic about Kermit in this episode and something they get wrong.
    Jarrod here.  I have an issue with Kermit and his way of dealing with the situation at the end of the episode – Kermit was a jerk.  In the review for episode 1, I made this point, saying it worked, and I truly enjoyed it.  But in this episode it’s an almost uncharacteristic change that just feels wrong.  Kermit was manipulative of Piggy and the gang for his own selfish reasons.  That’s not what Kermit does, and it wasn’t true to him.  He thinks about other people first, not himself.  You can have Bunsen and Beaker don black turtlenecks to sing Pirate songs, but you can’t have Pepe don a lab coat and be an award winning scientist.  In the same way you can have Miss Piggy and Scooter bond at karaoke, but you can’t have Kermit become selfish.  Some character changes work.  Some are just too drastic.
  • Swedish Chef singing Rappers Delight: That is all.

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