This Muppet Now review contains spoilers.
Muppets Now Episode 5
As we reach the fifth and penultimate episode of Muppets Now, my complaints about how tedious it’s getting are a bit deflated due to the wonderful news that after a four-episode stretch, there is no “Okey Dokey Kookin’” segment. Yes, there are still two appearances by the Swedish Chef here, but they’re both fresh and funny gags. They aren’t the same one-note joke stretched out for several minutes and repeated every week. I feel so relieved.
Our framing device this time around is that Scooter is trying to upload the episodes, but his computer is slowing down. This is because the I.T. guy Chip is trying to force an update. Oh, man. That anxiety is real. Not that it really amounts to much as these framing segments are too short to really mean anything. Still, seeing a digital version of Sam Eagle pop up as the cousin to a spinning computer wheel was a welcome sight gag.
The opening segment is yet another installment of “Miss Piggy’s Lifesty(le).” While it’s annoying to see this bit get five-for-five in terms of episode appearances, this pork chop at least has some meat on it. There’s a perfect balance of Piggy playing up her glamor to annoying degree and being taken down a peg. I guess Piggy and stardom works a lot like Fozzie and his attempts at comedy, except Piggy’s behavior makes her comeuppance more warranted while Fozzie being awful at least comes with good intentions.
As someone so tired of seeing Miss Piggy and Swedish Chef on this show, one of the better moments is Swedish Chef trying to help Piggy get a grasp on Swedish pronunciation, despite the fact that he isn’t even sure what the definition of the phrase is and it’s later apparent that it won’t be that much use for her anyway. In fact, even the appearances by Linda Cardellini and Taye Diggs seem more inventive and smarter than the previous four episodes.
“Muppet Masters” finally returns from the first episode and it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s several minutes focusing on Walter and Uncle Deadly going over Deadly’s zest for stage combat. It tries to double-dip on itself by having each one act as the straight man and comedic foil, with Walter understanding the background of stage combat while Uncle Deadly is only an expert in its skill and shows ignorance on everything else.
But whatever, I’m just glad to see more Walter. I know people don’t like him because – just from his name alone – he’s synonymous with Disney’s ownership of the Muppets, but he brings a star-eyed optimism to the group that’s infectious. He’s like a version of Kermit who hasn’t been worn down by his friends’ behavior.
“Pepe’s Unbelievable Game Show” is always a blast and here is no different. Part of what makes it work so well is that while the concept of Pepe throwing out the script and doing a game show based on his whims is repeated over and over again, the chaos is never truly the same. Here, he forces his players to tie a tie onto cacti (hoping not to get a tie) and then he asks each contestant to whisper a secret into his ear.
Not for points or anything. He just wants to know.
Lastly, “Muppets Labs Field Test” succeeds in the reason the general segment exists for: making science stuff look cool in a Jackass way. This week, the topic is using a hydraulic press to crush things. Beaker screws this up early by not realizing that crushing magazines is pretty lame. They then move on to different objects, including a jar of peanut butter set next to a jar of jelly. That one was strangely appetizing to watch.
Once again, Bunsen’s treatment of Beaker goes from the old days of nonchalantly tossing him into violent situations with no malice to intentionally being just horrible to his assistant. Now he’s in that class of Disney villains who never got their just desserts despite being just the worst. See also: Gene from Wreck-It Ralph and Abuelita from Coco.
God, I hate those two.
Next week is the season finale of Muppets Now and the show has definitely run out of gas. I’m hoping the potential second season could bring us at least twice as many segment types compared to this season’s mostly-tired scant few. That said, this week’s episode is one of the two I’d call overall good. Let’s see if they can end strong.