The Muppets: Pig Girls Don't Cry
September 22, 2015 8:30 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In this, the first episode of the muppets. , the Muppets tackle some of the problems with the show, Up Late with Miss Piggy, and to find guest stars that Miss Piggy likes, after she shoots down Elizabeth Banks. Fozzie tries to get Becky's parents to see him as boyfriend material even though he is a bear.

This is the pilot episode, though if you watched the first look presentation, you'll notice some characters have been swapped (Margo Harshman instead of Riki Lindhome as Becky) and others have been redesigned (Denise), and some of the (best) jokes get recycled.
posted by filthy light thief (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Mildly entertaining. Kind of bummed that they have to include sex jokes now though.
posted by davidmsc at 10:43 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I...mostly liked it? I guess I really want to like it, but I'm not 100% sold on the mockumentary/The Office/Modern Family format.

Also it seems slightly more Adult then I would have expected. Not quite as family friendly (I wouldn't let my 5 year old watch it). Also Kermit seems kind of misogynist!?

All that said, there were definitely a few solid laugh-out-loud moments and I'll return for episode 2. I liked the Fozzy Bear dating a human scenes. Pretty funny. And Animal always, always cracks me up.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:46 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know. Even if I was sold on the premise I just cannot accept Steve Whitmire as Kermit, and that kind of ruins modern Muppets for me really. Fozzy sounds sufficiently like Fozzy, Piggy sounds like Piggy, then Kermit talks and... no. Not Kermit.

It's not just the voice that's off. Whitmire may be a very talented puppeteer, but his Kermit just. is. not. Kermit. The personality feels wrong. In a better world I think this guy would get the gig. Not only does he do an impeccable Jim Henson Kermit voice, he really captures some of Kermit's spirit. The guy is so damn good at Kermit's voice that he can even do an impression of Whitmire as Kermit to show you how it's different from Henson's Kermit. Watching him talk with the Kermit puppet made me smile because it made me feel like I was actually seeing Kermit again, in a way Whitmire's Kermit never has. I'm not a puppeteer and maybe professionals would see all kinds of flaws in the guy's performance. But as a Muppet fan, I can say that this guy really knows his frog.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:11 AM on September 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

Was looking forward to watching this with my kid, but having read this Guardian review, uh, no.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:25 AM on September 23, 2015

I'm going to say, I'm interested in where this might go as a series (if they have any brain they're setting us up for a quality Muppet payoff by the end of the season), but this first episode was MUCH darker than I was expecting, and I'm not really pleased with the taste it left in my mouth.

I mean, I'm a GIANT Muppets fan, but this was... not really at all what I was wanting.

They could have gone halfway to where they did go and actually watched some of the old Muppet series to see how they actually act backstage with each other (because all those other shows had plenty of that going on) and managed to make something that I felt like worked.

Grrrr. *meditates for patience*
posted by hippybear at 2:42 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Fozzy sounds sufficiently like Fozzy, Piggy sounds like Piggy

I found Piggy & Fozzy's voices more jarring than Kermit's. This Fozzy sounded more like Kevin Pollak's Woody Allen impression to me than like original Fozzy. And Piggy just And having her make self-deprecating jokes about her body felt completely wrong - Piggy has always been supremely confident of her beauty, her only insecurity over the years has been over Kermit.

Sigh. I know that, on paper, Kermit & Piggy is a dysfunctional relationship with Piggy being the abuser, but, dammit, they will be my ship forever and I do not like this version of them. And having Kermit go for a younger skinnier pig is just, ugh.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:54 AM on September 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

I liked the jokes, I love Tom Bergeron (he's one of my favorite personalities ever), and I liked the conceit of a Miss Piggy late-night talk show. The rest of it felt too mean for me, and way too sexualized for a show that has always been able to find the line between the kids and the adults.

I'm hoping that they find a good tone for this, but I suspect that without any Henson involvement, the Muppets aren't ever going to recapture the magic. It would be better to find some puppeteers who have an entirely different product to do something else. I keep finding amazing little shows here and there on YouTube and the like. Make some of those folks stars!
posted by xingcat at 7:26 AM on September 23, 2015

I thought it was okay. It didn't wow me, but it did have a few moments that had me laughing (Tom Bergeron found out on his own.)

I'm not extremely bothered by Miss Piggy and Kermit being apart, as I'm fairly confident they're just going to work it into an arc of falling back in love together. I mean, otherwise, why?!

I think there's promise in the show and hopefully they can pick it up and run with it.
posted by Atreides at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm baffled as to who thought it was a good idea to skew so adult. The Muppets have always had adult-aimed jokes, but the original muppeteers were talented enough to keep in in the subtext. But this feels like Galavant all over again - excluding a significant chunk of your audience for no real benefit.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:27 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I kind of don't get it skewing so adult too. The show made me grin a few times, so I'll stick around.
posted by drezdn at 10:39 AM on September 23, 2015

It was missing a Kenneth the Page type character. Someone to be the happy heart of the show.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:58 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's weird, but since it's the Muppets, it's kind of like Kenneth was chopped up in spread in bits around the cast.

I think one reason the jokes skew a bit more adult than to be expected came in part because ABC and the writers realized that parents were probably not going to bother tuning in if it was more entertaining on their level. When I read accounts of the original Muppet Show, I often see some reference to them being skewed more toward adults. It's been ages since I've seen any of the original programs, but I wonder if the adult humor remains about on par, except modified for current social norms.

There was a recent and enjoyable documentary on Jim Henson on PBS recently and it definitely promoted Jim Henson as someone who wanted his creations to be seen as more than entertainment for kids (he had a pilot/special called Sex and Violence, FYI). So I'm not sure if he would object to the jokes flowing from last night's episode or not, perhaps more on the quality than the content.
posted by Atreides at 11:10 AM on September 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've been largely uneasy with the tone the recent Muppets stuff has taken lately, so I'd already planned to avoid this. (Also, I think some of the "STOP TELLING ME ABOUT THE MUPPETS ALL THE TIME DAMMIT I HAVE ALREADY HEARD ABOUT THIS SEVENTY TIMES" attitude my ex had rubbed off on me.)

A Facebook friend, though, made about 3 status updates during the broadcast, chronicling first her excitement that the show was starting, then her bafflement at what it was like, and then her disillusionment and swearing off. It was kind of funny and sad both to watch.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2015

I *still* liked it, but the tone seemed off from what I expected, which was around a lighter, more manic 30 Rock.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:15 AM on September 23, 2015

I was kind of disappointed as well, but I'll give it a shot for a while. To me it seemed like a typical sitcom, but with muppets. I could basically see the whole show working similarly with all human actors.
posted by blurker at 11:31 AM on September 23, 2015

Old jaded Kermit talking about how he has a thing for pigs bugged me the most. It felt like a sharp continuity break from the Kermit of The Rainbow Connection, eternally optimistic but not obnoxiously Pollyanna-ish Kermit. I don't buy him having a stereotypical midlife crisis. Likewise, Fozzie's joke about the kinds of messages you get being a bear on a dating site was clever, but not particularly in the spirit of the Muppets.

The part that worked best for me was Gonzo pitching Catherine the Great(est dancer) and Ivan he Terrible (dancer) to Tom Bergeron. That's the kind of Muppet joke I like; clever and definitely aiming at adults verbally, but slapsticky enough to amuse a kid too.
posted by ActionPopulated at 12:53 PM on September 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

I found Piggy & Fozzy's voices more jarring than Kermit's.

I must confess, I haven't seen the pilot of the new show yet. I was going by the Fozzy and Piggy I'd heard in commercials and stuff. Whoever has been doing the Frank Oz characters in recent years has done well enough that it wasn't until fairly recently that I knew Oz had pretty much retired from Muppeteering. But the Kermit voice has just been a big HELL no not Kermit since the day Jim Henson died. It's not that Whitmire sucks and it's not that nobody else could ever do the Kermit voice, but Whitmire's Kermit voice just does not work for me.

(Seriously, the Muppet people have got to hire that kid I linked to in my previous post. His Muppet impressions are just amazing.)

I think I'm gonna give this one a pass. I have a feeling it won't last long anyhow.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:16 PM on September 23, 2015

It ought to be Muppets 30 Rock. Instead it is Muppets Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

But I'm willing to give it a few more episodes to find it's footing. There was enough to make me hope and keep watching.

Also, more Gonzo please. Frustrated writer Gonzo in the trailer cracked me up.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 4:28 PM on September 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

You can add me to the list of people who is a bit iffy on this.

There were parts that I liked, but I really do not get why they went as explicitly adult as they did. The most egregiously adult jokes were honestly not even that good, and I think it was because the "adult" nature of them allowed the writers to be lazy about actually writing a real joke. Instead of good jokes delivered by beloved characters, it was meh jokes made slightly more edgy by being delivered by beloved characters who wouldn't usually say those things. That's not something that can really sustain itself in the long run.

I'll check out the next episode, but I really hope it gets fixed up a bit post-pilot.
posted by tocts at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

From the Grantland writeup, "Cocreator Bill Prady also cocreated The Big Bang Theory…." Why it's so bad has become much clearer to me.

Pappademas goes on to hit the nail right on the head.
What’s missing is the demented glee that made the original ’70s The Muppet Show such a crucial booster shot of irony and anarchy for the kids who became its audience even though it was only nominally aimed at them. Whether the guest star was Lynn Redgrave or Johnny Cash, Debbie Harry or Charles Aznavour, it didn’t matter — they scanned as representatives of adult authority who’d somehow been booked into a demented corner of the world run by pigs and frogs and bears and whatever Sweetums was supposed to be. And by pretending that all of this was normal, they normalized weirdness. There’s something fundamentally wrong about a show in which the Muppets are the adults.

Three decades later, we have universalized this approach and rebooted nearly everything there is to reboot. We have burned all the furniture for fuel and we’re starting to chop away at the deck. We are a terrible, dispirited society and we finally have the terrible, dispirited Muppets we deserve.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:11 PM on September 23, 2015 [17 favorites]

Cocreator Bill Prady also cocreated The Big Bang Theory….

Aw, hell.

You know, I remember when "Muppet Christmas Carol" came out a couple of years after Henson's death, and it was so damned perfect, and I was so relieved that it seemed like the Muppet legacy was in safe hands. But my clearest "oh, no, Kermit really is gone" moment was during an episode of The Hollywood Squares sometime in the 1998 re-boot run when Whoopi Goldberg was center square. They had Kermit as one of the squares, and he bluffed an answer. I think he even promised that he wasn't bluffing. So, the contestant used his answer and lost. And it was just so...wrong. Kermit tricking someone into losing their shot at prize money, someone who had probably grown up watching Sesame Street and the Muppet Show and would inherently trust him. I can't imagine Henson would have done that.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:39 PM on September 23, 2015 [11 favorites]

Charlie Jane Anders, io9: How The Hell Did They Screw Up The Muppets So Badly?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

What that was... I don't even. Just no. I'm actually angry. Fat jokes in the first two minutes, crazy bitch jokes in the first five, Piggy traded in for a younger, thinner, subservient pig...just fuck no. I noped before finishing because it was breaking my heart.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Better than the late 90s muppet show, nowhere near as good as the 70s Muppet Show, and I'll need to view more than the first episode of this series and try to rewatch the brief late 80s series (without the veil of nostalgia) to see where this fits.

I've only personally enjoyed two of the non-Henson movies: the Jason Segel one and It's A Very Muppet Christmas Movie, a 2002 tv movie with an It's A Wonderful Life hook, at least one sex dungeon joke, and a fairly distracting number of cameos from the stars of various NBC shows (this was before Disney/ABC bought the Muppets and it aired on NBC) but was still actually really funny (to me, humor is subjective and results may vary. Despite a prominent George Clinton cameo and a Gonzo A-plot, Muppet in Space does nothing for me and that bums me out)
posted by elr at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

That Grantland article absolutely nailed it. I enjoyed the show on first watch, because I think I was in the frame of mind where I wasn't watching the Muppets. I was just watching a comedy, and it felt like early episodes of "The Office," and on those terms it was really good.

The next morning, thinking back, I realized it was the Muppets carrying out those jokes and bits, and it just feels so awful. Jim would not be happy with this.
posted by jbickers at 3:28 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I did not feel like this was anywhere near as bad as most of the commenters here seem to have felt. I'm wondering if there isn't a bit of Muppets-nostalgia clouding peoples' perceptions. In any case there were enough blatantly goofy bits (Animal disappearing into the drum, and the critics going "That's the way out! Let's make a break for it!" was probably my favorite) that it still felt like the Muppets to me, and I laughed plenty.

I do agree that Kermit and Miss Piggy both felt sort of "wrong" but I think that's the point - they're meant to be together, and this show clearly agrees that they're meant to be together (I mean, come on, the climactic "twist" of this episodes plot was Miss Piggy revealing that her hatred of Elizabeth Banks is tied to the fact that Miss Piggy views the night Kermit broke up with her as the worst night of her life), and I have not the slightest doubt that the show will arc in that direction, so the fact that right now they're apart and it's bringing out the worst in both of them is completely intended. (I have a feeling that Kermit will gradually discover that his meek, subservient new girlfriend is not actually good for him [they've already made it clear she's getting him fat!] and will realize that being with Miss Piggy actually challenges him to be his best self.) But I feel like I'm in some twilight zone world because I haven't seen anybody else, from critic to audience member, even suggest that the show intends Kermit and Miss Piggy to end up back together and yet it seems blatantly obvious to me.

There were certainly some lazy jokes, but the Muppets have always had some lazy jokes, admittedly these lazy jokes just skewed a little more adult and a little less "and now something random happens!"; but frankly, either kind of lazy joke will get old over the run of a show. It does change the tone of the Muppets to have them making a studio TV show rather than running a shoestring theater, but honestly, that's fine with me - they need a different sandbox to play in. If I wanted it to be exactly the same as the old Muppet show, I'd just go re-watch that, instead.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:00 AM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

I was amused that the author of the I09 article was squicked out by Animal's "Too many women!" line, since that was actually one of my favorites in the episode. I guess I picture it more as the poor critter being traumatized by screaming groupies running after him.
I was annoyed that Imagine Dragons didn't get to perform their song all the way through. Not that I'm a big fan of Imagine Dragons, but it seems like if you're going to have a band on, you might as well have them perform the whole song.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Margo Harshman instead of Riki Lindhome

Man that's enough reason to nope out for me.

I haven't watched it yet. I was going to just give it a pass entirely because I was a little put off by the promos where we have Nathan Fillion doing a "walk of shame" out of Piggy's trailer; that's just not the muppets to me. But my wife recorded it and watched it and encouraged me to give it a try so I suppose I'll grit my teeth and do so. That sounds like a recipe for open mindedness, right?
posted by phearlez at 1:35 PM on September 24, 2015

In a better world I think this guy would get the gig.

Holy shit. How amazing was that?

I liked the show.. not quite right, especially Kermit and Piggy's voices (and the ick fatshaming and misogyny), and it hit like 80%, so I'm hopeful it gets better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:53 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cocreator Bill Prady also cocreated The Big Bang Theory….

Well, to be fair, he started his career with the Muppets, so his involvement here isn't a surprise.
posted by Pendragon at 12:47 AM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Huh. I just got around to checking this thread, and I disagree with pretty much all of you? I thought this was an excellent start, and was thrilled that they were backing away from the overly sweet Muppets Lite path that the franchise has been going down since The Muppets Take Manhattan. (My complaint would be that it does look like the overall arc is to reconcile Kermit and Piggy. I have never been on that ship; they are terrible together. Henson was wrong to marry them. There, I said it.)

It could use more explosions, but it's only the first episode.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:15 AM on September 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't like seeing Muppets' legs. Is that strange? I find it jarring.

Anyway, like everyone else I found it was a bit too adult, too many sex jokes which comes off as a bit lazy to me. It definitely had its moments. I'm interested to see how it goes. A lot of shows end up being pretty different from their pilots.
posted by GuyZero at 10:49 AM on September 25, 2015

I wanna revise, Muppets are totally OK to crack a few sex jokes, but they're supposed to be smart and subversive, not merely cheap and easy.

The "let's make a break for it" bit was possibly the best bit. If they can adjust more towards that and lose the parts where Kermit is kind of a dick then I think it could work.

I actually really liked the Fozzy dating part...mostly the father's incredulity chewing up all those scenes
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:56 PM on September 25, 2015

Sam Eagle side eye for the win!
posted by sweetmarie at 8:17 PM on September 25, 2015

Hi! I liked it!

I mean, I don't think it's anywhere near where it should be and hopefully will be, but good lord seeing the objections to it is frustrating me.

1. Too adult? For who? The Muppets have always had those kinds of moments, even in Henson's time. Not Muppet, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was the big family movie of my childhood, coming out when I was eight. If this is "too adult" than that was pornographic.

2. Oh noes, Kermit and Piggy are split up! They've always been on-again-off-again. They are the platonic Chaos-Muppet-Order-Muppet dichotomy and they always find each other eventually. This is law.

3. They made misogynist fat-shaming jokes! Well, I feel you. Those were difficult to take. Thankfully they were, I believe, leading to a great, subtle (for muppets) moment that felt truly earned for me. I want to explain, so why don't I get to:

4. Kermit and Piggy shouldn't be like that. This is both the biggest objection I'm seeing and the one I disagree with most fiercely. Both of them are acting, for me, exactly how they would act in what is, for both of them, a bad and, yes, more adult situation.

Piggy has always been brash, vain, volatile, basically bi-polar. We love her because she's the caricature of the unstable star with more ego than talent. And here, everybody treats her that way, and she lives up to it. Up to a point. When we flash back to the break-up, the camera lingers on her in the aftermath, and we see her vulnerability. And we don't question it because even if we haven't been privy to it before, it just makes so, so much sense. She needs validation, like we all do, but to a much more pathological degree of course. And when the foundation of that is ripped out form under her, she's left looking at this poster of Elizabeth Banks while she clearly is figuring out how to not hate herself right then, and it's beautifully sad and recognizable.

Back to the show, and she's doing the interview that we now know she had a good reason to not want to do. And she's a total, charming, Pro. Acting precisely in the Joan Rivers model. And in doing so, she makes a cute self-deprecating joke, and Banks, not cruelly, riffs on it, and Piggy laughs before giving us a second to show that it hurt. There were misogynistic fat jokes the whole episode, but never in her presence, and there we see the nastiness of it, at the climax. But Piggy is a Pro, and she gets it back in gear.

Kermit, meanwhile, has always been the shoulders upon which the rest of the Muppets' issues can rest, and this has always been a bit wearying. His demeanor has always been one of calm, matter-of-fact empathy. And with the break-up he wrote himself a check to not give a shit anymore, and that calm, matter-of-fact apathy is callous as hell. But it makes sense. Both Piggy and Kermit are sublimating their hurt and stress into their regular personas in bad ways, but they are accurately reflective of their need for one another. Piggy doesn't talk shit about herself when she knows Kermie is there and loves her for being exactly who she is. And Kermit doesn't snap at his friends and coworkers with Piggy there to tell it to him straight and give him perspective. And it's not like the show doesn't understand this - the A-story of the pilot is exactly about this.

The show needs to start from a point where the through-line has somewhere to go, and they spent all summer telling us it would start here. They need to find their way back to one another, and everyone else knows it. Even Denise seems like a perfectly fine person who just isn't right for Kermit (and seems to enable his bad habits.)

So, Great Things:

1. Fozzie's storyline was perfect, I thought, at least in the way it started, with the Champagne joke, and ended. (Fozzie is the most neurotic of all of them, and of course when given the choice between a wonderful woman who loves him unconditionally and her two shitty parents who hate him for no reason, he has to run after the parents. I just hope this doesn't mean we won't get more Riki Lindhome in the future.)

2. Gonzo as the harried writer doing exactly what has always worked in the past, and thus giving us the Muppets we remember even if Kermit claims no one wants it now.

3. Pepe, who everyone hates but I love, rubbing in salt where it's least needed.

4. Scooter as Pete Hornberger. What a perfect match. I look forward to his scheme of faking his own death.

5. Everything with the Electric Mayhem.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:26 PM on September 25, 2015 [12 favorites]

5. Everything with the Electric Mayhem.

Hi, my name is Zoot...

I think The Electric Mayhem got more lines in this one episode than in the entire Muppet canon to date.
posted by GuyZero at 9:29 PM on September 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Metafilter: Perhaps we should dismystify any further misconfusion with a daily confabulation-type meeting.
posted by sweetmarie at 8:45 AM on September 26, 2015 [9 favorites]

The Zoot line was probably my favorite in the episode

I think The Electric Mayhem got more lines in this one episode than in the entire Muppet canon to date.

IIRC, they got a decent number of lines in the original movie (it helps that they read the script).
posted by drezdn at 12:35 PM on September 26, 2015

I actually thought Elizabeth Banks throwing Scooter out of the golf cart was kind of hilarious.

The adult stuff only bugs me in that it's so overt. It used to be kind of subversive and a wink and a nod at the camera. HOWEVER, I think they can find a place for it and I'm hoping they do once they get the flow of the show right. This played very first episode-y.

And yeah, The Electric Mayhem had a pretty big part in the original movie. I, too, enjoyed the Zoot line...not as much as Janice's line about Imagine Dragons, though.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:41 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

lmfsilva: I *still* liked it, but the tone seemed off from what I expected, which was around a lighter, more manic 30 Rock.

This felt a lot like normal 30 Rock, especially with Miss Piggy reminding me of Jenna Maroney (down tho the hair styling). The lack of the manic is what pushed it away from classic Muppets for me, but I can appreciate a 30 Rock-like Muppets. On some level, this felt like the grown-up Calvin & Hobbes ("Donald Trump is in my closet and Mr. Bun isn't enough to stop him! Do you have anything scarier?" -- Archive of the oddly prescient comic) - an extension of a much-loved universe no one really asked for, but is fun (for some) to imagine.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:10 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

There were certainly some lazy jokes

"You don't have to make jokes every time you're in the writer's room. God knows these guys don't."

That, and Scooter asking Elizabeth Banks to "act interesting" in the tour, got some big laughs. This episode seemed like a bit of a rough start, but I won't be surprised if I manage to catch one or two more to see how it goes.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:00 PM on October 4, 2015

« Older Blindspot: Pilot...   |  Fresh Off the Boat: Family Bus... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments