MUPPETS NOW is pure unadulterated joy. Coming this Friday to the Disney+ streaming platform, the new variety show gets the whole gang back together… again, again. We were so anxious for their latest return but were absolutely delighted to find that what Disney has created here is simply Muppetational.
While 2015’s THE MUPPETS on ABC was met with mixed reactions that resulted in a single season, the new MUPPETS NOW is a fresh breath of air that lets the Muppets shine in their own element. Evocative of their original 1976 show, with vignettes of interchangeable Muppet segments, the show boasts a great assortment of characters with an eclectic mix of topics and fun semi-improvised celebrity cameos but all done in a way that feels much more in tune with today’s vlogger-crazy appetites. Yet it still seems authentically Muppets. It’s a nice balance to evolve the brand.
Despite the changes, MUPPETS NOW feels like the kind of programming you would have had on as a kid, maybe in the background while you were coloring or perhaps on a lazy summer day after getting out of the pool. It really feels like something that should be playing every single day on television vs. on demand on a streaming platform. Still, after screening the first four episodes, we absolutely cannot wait to watch more.
The premise for the connective tissue between segments is a little odd. We are squarely located on Scooter’s computer screen as he uploads video files for the “actual” MUPPETS NOW show. It’s a little metta, and truthfully a little random but in a sense that’s really always been the Muppet schtick.
The conceit for the show works, though, and ultimately isn’t the point. Still, the unusual narrative framework offers some great jokes and visual puns. Sam the Eagle-eyed viewers (or those with itchy pause button fingers) will appreciate the extra attention to detail to craft Scooter’s chaotic workspace — I literally cackled when I saw his “z_DELETE” folder and the scatter of files and folders on his desktop. The group conference call software that he uses to chat with his co-stars is called CONNECTOR and features a rainbow in its logo which honestly is just Swedish Chef’s kiss perfection.
Each of the vignettes, many of which recur between episodes, offer a variety of content including interviews with celebrities, vlog style videos with Piggy, a nonsensical gameshow with Pepe the Prawn, and masterful science segents with Bunsen and Beaker. My personal favorite are the Okey Dokey Kookin segments, hosted by Beverly Plume, in a cookoff showdown that features Swedish Chef squaring off against different guest chefs including Danny Trejo, Roy Choi, and more as they make signature dishes.
If there was anything jarring it was that Mrs. Piggy seems to have had some… work done… as her normally luscious skin seemed exceptionally smoothed out. Maybe it’s just the makeup? I wouldn’t dare ask her so the world may never know.
The first season is only 6 episodes and we can only hope that many, many, more will be in the works. MUPPETS NOW is a winner and we want more Muppets, like NOW.
See it for Yourself
MUPPETS NOW debuts on Disney+ July 31, 2020. Each of the 6 new episodes will be released every Friday.