TV Recap: The Muppets, ‘Little Green Lie’

Written by Chris Diggins

muppets-tv-show-abc-2015-trailer

‘LITTLE GREEN LIE’ PLOT SUMMARY:

When Kermit’s nephew Robin visits, he desperately tries to hide his break up with Miss Piggy. Rizzo and Pepe also are suffering, dealing with Camilla moving in and losing Gonzo as their wingman.

The Muppets is often a singularly frustrating show to review. Just when you think you have a handle on what it’s like or whether it’s improving, it suddenly shifts gears and becomes completely different. And no matter how many times I wrote some declarative statement in one of these reviews and was then proven wrong the next week, I never learned my lesson. I’ve tried to be more careful since the show came back from break, and thankfully my transgressions have managed to avoid print this time around, but I still fell for it again. After last week’s episode I thought The Muppets was becoming a show with a strong emotional core but weak humor, and then this week, as if to spite me personally, we get an episode rich in laughs but with a muddled plot.

In a continuation of the show’s quiet crusade to bring back obscure Muppets, Kermit’s nephew Robin comes to visit. Robin’s parents have just gone through a messy divorce, and the young frog had always been close with Kermit and Miss Piggy, so for his sake the two pretend to still be together. As vehicles to move the ostensible main plot of this show along, it’s serviceable if rather cliché. The problem is that it never really moves beyond this starting point. Robin is little more than a device to cause this plot, so it’s hard to care about the supposed motivation behind Kermit and Piggy’s actions. And without that, the whole thing is reduced to the two standing around awkwardly for 30 minutes, pretending we all don’t know they’ll get back together.

Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin
Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin

This exposes an inherent weakness in the show that even the reboot failed to address: We are never given any compelling reason why we should feel conflicted about Kermit and Piggy getting back together, let alone any reason to think it won’t happen. Denise was supposed to be that reason, but the writing behind her never backed that up, and rather than fixing it the reboot chose to dump her as soon as possible. But they haven’t replaced her with anything, which means that this “will-they-won’t-they” they’re trying to set up lacks all dramatic weight. When Robin tells the two that he can’t see any reason for them not to be together, he might as well be speaking for us, and their inability to reply might as well be the show’s response.

It’s not all doom and gloom this week though. The humor really has improved considerably since last week, and they’ve even found a way to incorporate some of the darker comedy of the show’s first half in a way that works. When Pepe sneaks some eggs from a basket labeled “Possible Offspring” by Camilla to make some omelets, or when Carl accidentally swallows a puppy whole, they are moments so quick, audacious, and specific that it’s impossible not to laugh. Pepe and Rizzo continue to be bright beacons in the supporting cast, bringing plenty of joy to their B-plot about missing Gonzo. And even the Up Late With Miss Piggy segment, although still some of the weaker comedic fare this episode, finally manages to find something specific about the Muppets it features to draw its humor from (namely, the Electric Mayhem’s belief in bizarre conspiracy theories and general air-headedness).

Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin
Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin

Also, can I just officially declare Uncle Deadly my new favorite Muppet? He’s barely even in this episode and yet he provides by far its funniest moment, slinking into the middle of Kermit’s monologue to declare, “This is the third least important secret I’m keeping right now,” before slowly sliding back out of frame. It’s so weird and he sells it so hard that it becomes a brilliant bit of absurd comedy. Combined with last week proving he has the emotional weight to carry an episode’s plot, plus the fantastic work he’s been doing this whole show, he’s easily The Muppets‘ most wildly successful character.

What can I even say here? The Muppets has made a fool of me every time I’ve tried to classify it. For this week, though the reboot does seem to settle the tonal inconsistency and mean-spiritedness that plagued the first half of the show, it continues to struggle with providing any actual compelling drama. But now that I’ve said that, next week will be a dark, inconsistent mess that somehow finds the perfect wrench to throw in Kermit and Piggy’s burgeoning re-romance. Who knows? With any luck, I’ve finally learned to just let go of all expectations and enjoy the ride this show is bringing me on, even if it sometimes gets really bumpy.

RATING: 6 OUT OF 10