Funny story, I’m writing my review for the episode about The Muppets where everything goes wrong and there’s a big power outage and I can’t finish it on time because I experience a power outage. So that happened.
This week’s episode, “Pigs in a Blackout,” is refreshing because it has the Muppets being Muppets. Think of it like a superhero comic. It’s great when we get to see the characters acting like human beings with human problems, but if we never see them fly around and punch a dragon in the face, then what’s the point? It’s a similar situation with the Muppets only instead of flying around and punching dragons in the face, you need to see Fozzie fall down an elevator shaft every now and then. Yes, they have emotion and all that, but they’re also a bunch of colorful puppets that get into cartoony situations and you can’t forget that.
Our episode is about Kermit getting so in over his head as producer as he’s bombarded with nothing but problems over the course of several minutes. The stress causes him to pass out and it’s decided that he should take some time off at a spa retreat. Scooter is given the keys to the show and finds himself in just as much peril, all while Gonzo is jealous and Sam the Eagle keeps trying to hit on Janice.
The Sam/Janice stuff didn’t really work for me, outside of their amusing talk about snorkeling and fish rights. It’s little different from the last episode we saw Sam pining for her and didn’t need to reach subplot status.
Kermit’s time at the spa retreat (along with guest star Jason Bateman) didn’t do much for me either. I get the story being told, but it was more of an annoying distraction that didn’t really interest me and didn’t have any laughs in it whatsoever.
The stuff with Scooter, on the other hand, was pure gold and makes the episode worth watching. Scooter’s really been killing it on this show since the first episode, which has surprised me to no end. Like, I already knew Pepe and Rizzo are awesome, so their antics are in no way shocking, but Scooter was always just a secondary straight man. The Muppets has really made him great and his conversation about “the oldest saying in Hollywood” with Gonzo is one of the series’ better gags.
Speaking of which, this episode’s take on Gonzo is probably the best use of him in the series so far. In a way, he’s more of the protagonist than Scooter, despite the screentime. This is how you can use Gonzo and make him serious, unlike that dating episode from a month or so ago.
The Muppet Show and much of the movies were about Kermit being the sane ringmaster trying to rally this insane family around him. This is a reminder of that. What we get in this episode is the characters returning to their roots in various ways.
While the ending and its continuation into the end credits has a feeling of emotional nostalgia on its own, what really does it for me is the way Rowlf ends up helping Kermit and giving him advice. As Rowlf was Jim Henson’s favorite Muppet, it was basically agreed to semi-retire the character. He was around, but never in a big way. Usually in small roles in the movies and previous episodes. Seeing him give a heart-to-heart to Kermit is genuinely touching to me. Like they’re calling out Rowlf’s connection to their creator.
The Muppets will be retooled in a few months and I’m no longer sure it needs it. It started off rough, but the people behind it are really starting to figure out how to make this format work. The last couple weeks have been pretty spot-on and I hope we don’t lose any quality due to corporate panicking.
Gavin Jasper notices that nobody checked up on Fozzie. He’s probably fine. Follow Gavin on Twitter!