Make no mistake, I’m a huge Muppets fan but even I know, not every Muppet-themed project can be a winner. Despites the rise in popularity after the success from the 2011 film, The Muppets, my furry friends have had a hard time staying relevant. This does not seem to be the case with their Sesame Street brethren as some characters like Cookie Monster and Grover are just as popular now as they were when the show premiered in 1969. The reason being that Sesame Street hasn’t felt the need to “update” or make their Muppets more relevant. (That’s just my opinion.) But that hasn’t been the case for the rest of the Muppet crew.
In 2015, ABC made the erroneous decision to air a new Muppet series that was more “adult” in its humor. Parents who were looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a show that the whole family could enjoy were left disappointed. While the ratings for the show were high for the first few weeks, they dropped significantly and the show was re-worked, but it was still cancelled after one season.
Now, five years later, the Muppets are back trying out a whole new show this time on Disney+. Today the streaming service presented the first of the six 20-minute-long episodes and the results are pretty mixed. Described as an “unscripted” program, Muppets Now is no way the next Muppet Show, but even though I didn’t laugh once, it still seems has some promise.
Muppets Now is a series of short TV shows presented by various Muppets and their human celebrity guests. The first is the brilliantly-titled Lifesty with Miss Piggy. (It is supposed to be “lifestyle” but the graphics department in Lithuania messed up.) During her show, Miss Piggy gives some “Tips from the Top” and she enjoys a face-slap massage with Taye Diggs which ends with Piggy getting in a fist fight with “Beautician Margaret.” The best part of this show-within-a-show is Piggy’s assistant who has some Tim Gunn sensibilities. The Chat Room segment is pretty bland even with special guest Linda Cardellini.
The second segment called Muppet Masters features Walter (from the movie The Muppets) who shares Kermit’s hidden talent of photography. As it turns out, Kermit really isn’t into taking photos. He’s really into photo-bombing. Although kinda clever, this didn’t seem to really fit with Kermit’s personality. This seems a lot more like Gonzo’s thing. Either way it should have been funnier than it was.
The next segment was the most disappointing as it featured a cooking competition between the Swedish Chef and Carlina Will. Now, the Swedish Chef is an icon in Muppet history who has a knack for…interesting … cooking choices. This should have been a slum-dunk, but it pains me to say it. It was just too long and not funny. At all.
The final segment is probably the best with Kermit sitting down and interviewing RuPaul of all people. Though I find it strange that the folks at Disney thought that the Drag Race star would make a good guest for this family show, RuPaul was actually pretty fun to watch.
So, one down and five more to go. Muppets Now is not a total disaster and it IS family-friendly, but it isn’t as good as it could be. Maybe that will change in the coming weeks. If not, you can still watch Cookie Monster on YouTube.
New episodes of Muppets Now will be added to Disney+ every Friday.
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.