Muppets Now Episode 4 Review: Sleep Mode

The latest installment of the Disney+ Muppet show experiment shows how little variety there is in this so-called variety show.

Photo: Disney

This Muppets Now review contains spoilers.

Muppets Now Episode 4

I should have seen the warning signs when I found out that Muppets Now was produced in six days. It’s easy to crank out several episodes so quickly when you’re filming the same segment over and over again in one go. The farther the show goes, the more annoying the lack of variety is.

As “Sleep Mode” is the fourth episode of Muppets Now, that means that there have been sixteen total segments so far. Of those sixteen, there are seven types of segments. That’s it. Only the “Muppets Masters” bit hasn’t been revisited. Meanwhile, we have had four installments of “Okey Dokey Kookin’” and “Lifestyle with Miss Piggy.”

I’m getting flashbacks to Mad TV, when they didn’t just have recurring sketches, but recurring characters who appeared to show up every single week no matter how tired their acts got.

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Speaking of tired, the framing device this week is Scooter waking up from passing out due to an all-nighter. In order to stay awake long enough to upload this week’s files, he gets Animal to yell at him via Facetime. There’s a halfway decent idea in there, but it ends up being very empty. A later bit has Animal get the other members of the Electric Mayhem to pop in to help keep Scooter awake, but there’s nothing to it outside of just a cameo. Like, you’re all excited because you think the awesome band is going to do an awesome band thing, but then they just casually move to the next scene.

The episode isn’t all bad. Our first segment is “Mup Close and Personal,” which we haven’t seen since the first episode. It also feels a bit new since the dynamic is different. The first time, it was about Kermit trying to interview RuPaul while various others gave Kermit a hard time via crashing the interview and asking RuPaul their own questions. RuPaul felt like a third party, rolling with the punches.

This time around, it’s Miss Piggy (accompanied by Uncle Deadly) interviewing Aubrey Plaza and this time the joke is on Plaza. Piggy is egotistical and patronizing, Uncle Deadly plays good cop while stoking the fire, and it’s up to Plaza to react to it. It’s low energy, but pretty funny at times, especially when Uncle Deadly starts showing up in different outfits for bizarre editing reasons that almost make sense.

“Muppet Labs Field Tests” is sort of a downer this week. Rather than having Bunsen physically (or financially) torture Beaker, they instead study sound vibrations with a talking computer from the 90s that’s spent decades alone in a closet and is desperate to keep the experiment going so it doesn’t have to get locked away again. At least the actual educational science stuff looks pretty cool this time around.

Man, considering how satisfying watching the Muppets usually is, I’m surprised we’ve never seen anyone punch Bunsen Honeydew in his jerk face. At the very least, Muppets Now is treating him as a total sociopath who never gets his comeuppance.

The third segment is “Okey Dokey Kookin’” and it’s the same stuff…again. Swedish Chef, a talking turkey, and a celebrity chef (this time Guiseppe Losavio) do the same gags we’ve seen week after week. It’s not fresh or funny.

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Real talk: when I met my now-wife on a dating app, our ice-breaking conversation was about Swedish Chef’s obscure ’80s cereal Croonchy Stars. By all means, I should probably hold Swedish Chef in such high esteem for putting things in motion, right? Yet here I am, wondering every week why I have to sit through yet another one of these cooking show parodies, cursing his name. It’s not right.

Finally, we have another “Lifestyle with Miss Piggy” which is extremely pointless because not only are we four-for-four with these segments (complete with Tay Diggs and Linda Cardellini doing the same stuff as always), but we already had a Piggy/Deadly segment at the start of the show! Why are they going so all-in on Miss Piggy?

Reviewing these episodes is becoming an exercise in how incredulous I can get. There are six total episodes. I’m 2/3 into it and I’m exhausted by how repetitive and unimaginative it is despite it being the Muppets. The Scooter narrative in these episodes is usually about how rushed and rough everything is and the more I watch, the more meta that feels.

Please, Disney+. I don’t know if I can talk about “Okey Dokey Kookin’” two more times. Throw me a curveball or something!


1.5 out of 5