Friday, September 25, 2015

Pilot Review: The Muppets

The Muppets (ABC)
Premiered September 22 at 8pm

I don’t have any particular feelings towards the Muppets. I’ve never been a huge fan, but I also don’t hold anything against them. I didn’t see either of the recent films that came out, and I only watched this pilot because, well, I watch every pilot. I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, though I’m not sure exactly what I expected. This show is taking the questionable route of framing itself as a mockumentary, a device that sometimes works but is also used to excess on many occasions. The reason it works here is that the concept of Muppets coexisting with humans is rather absurd, and it’s actually decently funny to watch them on screen together. Nowhere is that truer than with Fozzie Bear and his human girlfriend’s parents, and I enjoyed the casting of Jere Burns from “Burn Notice” and “Justified” as her disapproving father. The public breakup of Kermit and Miss Piggy provides some decent dramatic backstory for this show, and it was amusing to find out exactly why Miss Piggy had such a problem with Elizabeth Banks guest-starring on the show. On that note, the use of celebrity guest stars is intense but not overbearing, since Tom Bergeron, Banks, and Imagine Dragons were all appropriately relegated to brief bits that allowed them to have fun but not dominate the scene. I don’t know how long this show can keep its momentum up, but this episode was enough fun that I’m willing to start watching the show on a regular basis.

How will it work as a series? A lot happened just in this opening episode, and so I think that there will be no shortage of plotlines in the future. Its primetime placement also gives it the option to push the envelope in a few ways, which could also help to keep it interesting since it’s not concerned with staying G-rated.
How long will it last? It seems like this show did well on all fronts, posting solid premiere numbers and earning decent reviews from critics. It’s hard to know if viewership will plummet after week one, but I think that this one is enough of a hit that ABC will put its energy behind it and give it a renewal pretty soon.

Pilot grade: B

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