The Muppets return to TV with cameos from Imagine Dragons, Elizabeth Banks

Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the gang return in ABC's "The Muppets"

The moment ABC announced they were bringing "The Muppets" back to TV, the show became one of the most anticipated of the fall pilot season. Fortunately, the network did not disappoint and brought Jim Henson’s Muppets back in a big way.

Taking a cue from shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” the return of Kermit and his friends is filmed as a behind the scenes look into their lives, complete with floating head interviews. 

The story tying them all together revolves around Miss Piggy’s late night talk show, for which the rest of the gang work as crew members. Following a recent breakup, Kermit finds nearly all of the work placed on his shoulders as he serves as executive producer for the show and is forced to deal with not just his ex, but her obnoxious ego and his fairly clueless friends.

It’s a format that works better than expected. Though some characters like Gonzo fall more into the background of this week’s episode, others have more clear roles.

However, the episode’s pacing often felt off due to the interviews and there were times where focusing on the personal lives of the characters prevented them from making the snappy, high energy jokes they are known for.

What struck me as most bizarre were the efforts to convince viewers this is a more mature, grown-up version of the Muppets. The subplot where Fozzie met his girlfriend’s parents worked well, but having her dad blatantly point out how things would work if they wanted to have kids just felt unnecessary. 

On the contrary, Kermit admitting that he has a thing for pigs made for one of the funniest jokes of the episode. I think if the writers can find the balance between the two by letting the characters actions speak for themselves, this more mature reincarnation of The Muppets could work wonderfully.

What did work wonderfully on this pilot were the character’s interactions with humans. Seeing Animal jam out with Imagine Dragons was delightful (even if it would have been nice to see him destroy that drum a little bit more), and the fight between Scooter and Elizabeth Banks was hilarious.  

I look forward to seeing what other cameos the show has in store over the course of the season.  If they are all handled like those in the pilot, it will be a joy to watch.

While this was certainly a different take on the beloved characters, I think it’s one that ultimately can work quite well. If the writers can find a balance between showing Kermit and his friends producing Piggy’s show as well as showing their personal lives, I think ABC’s new "Muppets" show has the potential to be something special. If nothing else though, it’s just nice to see the characters back on TV again.

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Reach the reporter at seweinst@asu.edu or on Twitter @S_Weinstein95 

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