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‘Muppets Now’ is a hidden treasure on Disney+

| Thursday, August 13, 2020

Diane Park | The Observer

The Muppets are a huge staple in family entertainment and puppetry. Created by Jim and Jane Henson in 1955, the Muppets are known for their absurdist, burlesque and self-referential style of variety-sketch comedy and have brought laughter and joy to families all over the world. When Disney took control of the Muppets in February 2004, the company began to produce films and television shows to garner the characters more public exposure than they had seen in years. The most recent of these is the Disney+ web series “Muppets Now.”

“Muppets Now,” released this summer and directed by Kirk Thatcher, is a series consisting of multiple segments bridged by Scooter (David Rudman), the Muppets’ backstage manager. The segments include a game show ran by Scooter and Pepe the King Prawn (Bill Barretta), a cooking show starring the Swedish Chef (Barretta) and a lifestyle show hosted by Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson). 

The Muppets have been known for celebrity cameos ever since their mid-50s heyday, and “Muppets Now” is no exception. The first two episodes star Broadway actor and singer Taye Diggs (“Rent” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), actress Linda Cardellini (“Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Avengers: Endgame”), drag queen RuPaul (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”), food expert Carlina Will and actor Danny Trejo (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Con-Air,” and “Breaking Bad”). 

The first episode, “Due Date,” has a running plot about Scooter uploading each segment of the web show on the due date of the show, only for each host to protest that they are not ready for uploading. This episode is a perfect example of pilot and did manage to get a few laughs. Miss Piggy’s lifestyle segment is surprisingly very relatable for those who want to embrace their personal style. The cooking show that starred the Swedish Chef is the funniest, thanks to the Chef’s gibberish-adjacent dialect and absurd clothing. 

The second episode, “Fever Pitch,” involves Fozzie Bear (Jacobson) constantly bombarding Scooter with pitches for shows that we saw just the week before — like Pepe’s game show and Chef’s cooking show. The episode introduces a “Mythbusters”-style show that stars Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (Dave Goelz) and his assistant Beaker (Rudman). This installment struggles to be as funny as the first, especially when it focuses on Fozzie constantly annoying Scooter — and the audience — with pitch after pitch in between segments. Fozzie Bear is supposedly known for his jokes, but the ones he starts cracking over the closing credits are more bland than anything else. 

If you are cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Muppets Now” offers a good source of entertainment. The show offers the humor and creativity for the whole family that the Muppets brand has long been known for. 

 

Title: “Muppets Now” 

Starring: Danny Trejo, RuPaul, Taye Diggs, and Linda Cardellini

Favorite Episode: “Due Date”

If you like: “Saturday Night Live,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”

Where to Watch: Disney+

Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5

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