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Muppets Now 1.01 Review – ‘Due Date’

July 27, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Muppets Now - Episode 1 - Due Date
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Muppets Now 1.01 Review – ‘Due Date’  

Author’s Note: This review for Muppets Now is based on a screener provided by Disney+.

Episode 101 – “Due Date”

The Muppets are finally back with a brand-new TV show for Disney+. While the format has certainly changed to suit the digital era, the charm of these lovable characters definitely hasn’t. I was probably one of the few fans of the ABC sitcom show for The Muppets back in 2015. This certainly shifts the characters away from that sitcom style and brings them back more toward a familiar, traditional sketch-based format.

The concept of Muppets Now feels quite timely as the show is done with the backdrop of The Muppets launching their new digital series, also titled Muppets Now, which Scooter is producing from the Muppets Studio. Disney is billing this show as the “first unscripted series” for The Muppets. I can’t honestly say how unscripted it is. After watching several episodes of the series, some of the material definitely looks and sounds scripted, though I imagine some of the Muppeteers and guest stars might’ve been given some leeway to riff on the material and improvise a bit.

With the backdrop of the characters creating a digital series, Scooter is tirelessly trying to deliver new video uploads and assets, and much like with the classic series, constant chaos or obstacles get in the way. The show’s framing device and overall format underscores these characters as scrappy guerrilla entertainers trying to operate under the mantra of “the show must go on” while high jinks ensue, and that’s how the show is reminiscent of classic Muppets.

As probably one of the only fans out there for ABC’s The Muppets sitcom, I especially appreciated Uncle Deadly on that show as Miss Piggy’s dutiful, yet somewhat snarky, assistant/handler. Interestingly enough, that relationship dynamic has been maintained for Muppets Now, with the recurring Miss Peggy vlog segment “Lifesty(le) With Miss Piggy.” Trying to cast Miss Piggy as a trendy, cliche YouTuber type makes a lot of sense, and Uncle Deadly has some hilarious zingers. The Lifesty(le) With Miss Piggy segments also feature recurring appearances by celebrity guests Taye Diggs and Linda Cardellini, portraying themselves. So, along with some of the other sketches, the celebrity guest aspect remains intact.

Muppets Now - Episode 1

My personal favorite recurring sketch that debuts in the first episode is a culinary cook-off segment with Swedish Chef and a new turkey Muppet character, Beverly Plume, called “Okey Dokey Kookin.” In the sketch, Beverly Plume hosts a cook-off between Swedish Chef and a guest celebrity chef, who is Carlina Will in the first episode. Of course, Swedish Chef is game for the challenge, and the guest chef cooks up something nice and elaborate before Swedish Chef starts creating absolute madness. Swedish Chef messes up so badly that he’s calling UberEats to get some food delivered during the competition. He then tries to shoo the delivery guy off the set, exclaiming, “No tip! No tip!” I find Swedish Chef saying “no tip” in actual English incredibly amusing.

One of the more jarring aspects is Matt Vogel’s voice as Kermit the Frog. I realize that Matt Vogel became the new Muppeteer and voice for Kermit in 1917, replacing longtime Kermit performer Steve Whitmire, but this is really the first time since the transition that I noticed. At first, listening to this new voice as Kermit is somewhat jarring and takes a bit getting used to, since it sounds so noticeably different. Not to mention, Whitmire did such an excellent job honoring Jim Henson’s legacy as the character for quite a while. In later episodes, Vogel does settle into the role a and improves. However, it takes some time to get used to this newer voice and performance for Kermit.

Kermit gets two big segments in this episode. First off, he has a bit with Walter where he shows off his hobby of “photobomby,” and there’s also an interview with RuPaul. Kermit’s trying to conduct the interview while other Muppets are constantly interrupting the session and stepping over Kermit’s questions. I liked the RuPaul segment better, more for the other characters who appear and start stealing Kermit’s thunder. Even the “photobomby” segment works better for the bits involving Deadly, Miss Piggy, and Sam the Eagle.

Overall, this is a good format and way to exploit The Muppets. The material is very light and entertaining. It’s very quick and digestible. Muppets Now does add some modern vibes and touches to the framing and the more external aspects, but the characters do not. It’s still the classic Muppets, just in a slightly more modern, updated setting. They doing their best, trying to just find their place in the world and put on a good show and entertain the people as best they can, even if they’re operating on a shoestring budget.

The final score: review Good
The 411
As a big fan of The Muppets, I think Muppets Now is off to a good start. Building a show around The Muppets trying to launch a digital series is a solid concept, hopefully one that doesn't get too repetitive or tedious. The characters have not lost their charm and lovability after all these years. I think the Okey Dokey Kookin' and Lifesty(le) With Miss Piggy segments are the real standouts of the show so far, but there are recurring motifs that are introduced later in the season. If you like or enjoy The Muppets and you have a Disney+ subscription, I would give the show a look at least once.