'Muppets Now' Episode 1 Review: A modern update of classic Muppets hijinks is just as cute and chaotic as ever
'Muppets Now' does not have a lot of stand-out moments, but is a good return to form that updates the Muppets for the modern age without losing its identity
It's been a while since the Muppets have been able to recapture their original charm, but with 'Muppets Now' they are definitely heading a step in the right direction. Updated for an all-new era of Zoom calls, social distancing and all-new celebrities, the first episode is a sampling platter of Muppets hilarity and things are just as cute and chaotic as ever.
The episode is divided into several segments. Lifesty with Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson), Muppet Masters with Walter (Peter Linz), Okey Dokey Kookin with the Swedish Chef (Bill Barretta) and Mup Close and Personal with everyone's favorite "ringleader, cheerleader, and bottom feeder" himself, Kermit the Frog (Matt Vogel). If it wasn't for the Disney+ exclusivity, the entire series could have easily been released as webisode shorts, but as it stands, all segments are loosely tied together with a frantic Scooter (David Rudman) attempting to upload the various segments onto the internet while dodging last-minute updates from his perfectionist colleagues.
As expected, Kermit is absolutely the star of the show, managing to fit both his own hilariousness with his evergreen (no pun intended) role as a put-upon manager of a wildly chaotic crew. In fact, the show falls a little flat in the segments that he's not a part of. While the episode remains funny, there are some laugh out loud moments, though there are plenty of moments that are still worth a smile. One of the best parts of the Muppets is seeing real celebrities interact with these cartoonish characters brought to life and it's hard to say whether the puppeteers or the guest stars are having more fun.
Though "unscripted" was a large part of the marketing for 'Muppets Now', every segment is smooth enough that it's hard to tell where the unscripted aspect really comes into play. It's not improv comedy or a live talk show or even a reality TV series — the clean editing might be working against the show's own marketing here. However, in a 22-minute episode, there's not a lot of room for entirely unscripted gaffes.
All in all, for fans of the Muppets, 'Muppets Now' is a delightful return to form, that updates its format for a new era without entirely losing what fans love the show for in the first place. It's good Muppets content, and while none of it stands out, it doesn't need to be an enjoyable appetizer of "unscripted" sketch comedy.
The next episode of 'Muppets Now' airs on August 7 on Disney+.