TV Recap: The Muppets, ‘Single All the Way’

Written by Christopher Diggins

muppets-tv-show-abc-2015-trailer

Single All the Way Plot Summary:

The Muppets prepare a holiday special for Up Late with Miss Piggy with Mindy Kaling as Kermit and Scooter work to find an alternative to the musical number after hearing Mindy sing during rehearsal. After Becky breaks up with Fozzie, Miss Piggy gives him relationship advice and soon wonders if it is too late to rekindle her relationship with Kermit. Displeased that she was not in the Secret Santa occurrence last year, Yolanda rigs the gift exchange which leads to Pepe and Rizzo figuring out that nobody drew her name last year. Sam Eagle hangs up a mistletoe in order to get Janice to kiss him.  

So this is it. After ten episodes, The Muppets as we know it is coming to an end. There are still six episodes left in the season, but ABC has already announced that those final six will constitute a relaunch of the series, with a new showrunner replacing Bob Kushell. This episode, then, is effectively a finale for the show as it currently exists, although as it wasn’t made with that in mind it’s perhaps unfair to judge it by that standard. Still, while it might not serve as a particularly dramatic or climactic ending, it does manage to be a nice little send-off for these characters as we’ve come to know them.

RIZZO, SCOOTER, BIG MEAN CARL, YOLANDA, FOZZIE, BOBO THE BEAR, SAM THE EAGLE, MINDY KALING, MISS PIGGY, PEPE THE KING PRAWN, SWEETUMS, THE GREAT GONZO, CHIP, DR. BUNSEN HONEYDEW, UNCLE DEADLY

The episode, like so many others, focuses mainly on Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie, specifically their relationships. Fozzie turns to Miss Piggy for advice after a break-up leaves him despondent. Her advice actually does end up cheering him up and helps him save his relationship, but at the same time makes Piggy feel she didn’t fight hard enough to save hers with Kermit. A sincere expression of his feelings helps Kermit cheer her up and get the show back on track just in time, but leaves him feeling conflicted about his current relationship.

This is a fairly functional if simple plot, but there are a few problems with it. First of all, Fozzie’s break-up with Becky happens entirely off-screen, as does its resolution, and the cause of it in the first place (Becky feels he doesn’t take anything seriously) isn’t rooted in anything we’ve seen of their relationship in a previous episode. This makes the conflict feel extremely artificial, and ultimately makes Fozzie little more than a tool to advance Kermit and Miss Piggy’s plot. This is largely fine, but their plot is itself a rehash of the same basic idea we’ve seen a couple times already: Piggy is reminded of their relationship, is hurt about it, Kermit says or does something nice to help her. And then Kermit’s conflicted feelings about Miss Piggy are clearly meant to be the show’s winter break cliffhanger, but it’s hard to care about that when his relationship with Denise is still so poorly developed. We have no sense of why he likes Denise or how their relationship works, so we have no real reason to root for her over Miss Piggy. What should be a conflict instead feels like an inevitability.

The two side plots are a little mixed as well. Yolanda’s rigging of the Secret Santa pool is amusing, and the crew’s attempt to make amends after they snub her is pretty nice, so that one mostly works, even if it feels a bit insubstantial. Meanwhile, Sam continues to try to woo Janice with decades-old sitcom cliches as he seeks to catch her under the mistletoe. The actual events as they unfold are inoffensive enough, I suppose, but I still think this plot amounts to nothing but tired (and honestly kind of creepy) unrequited love tropes.

Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder
Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

Still, perhaps I’m being too harsh. There is something sweet about the way Kermit and Miss Piggy tell each other that their each other’s favorite show, and consequently the resolution to this version of their basic plot feels a little more sincere than past ones. With finely honed minor characters like Uncle Deadly, Carl, Pepe, and Rizzo, the show is able to keep the laughs coming pretty consistently. They even seem to have worked out the perfect way to integrate celebrity cameos, as they create plenty of comedy out of Mindy Kaling’s inability to realize she can’t sing without having it take over the episode. There’s plenty in here that works, it just doesn’t feel like the show is firing on all cylinders like it was last week, and for an ostensibly final episode that’s kind of a shame.

I didn’t talk about it much here, but this episode was pretty sweet in tone overall. It lacked entirely the sometimes vicious bite and darker elements that were a bit infamous in the show’s early episodes. Is this a sign of where the show will be headed in its upcoming relaunch? Or maybe it’s Bob Kushell getting to do things how he wants before he leaves? Or is it just because it’s a Christmas episode, or simply for no reason in particular? Hard to say until we see how the show’s relaunch goes (or until someone talks, at least). As things stand, this has been an at times frustrating, at times wonderful, and mostly in-between show to watch these past ten episodes. A part of me is sad to see it go, but another part is interested to see if they can manage to create a more consistently entertaining show to takes its place. Either way, I’m excited to re-meet the muppets, whenever that ends up happening.

Rating: 7 out of 10