'Muppets Now' Episode 2 Review: With easy concept, hilarity and manic energy, game show is on the right track
While the first episode of 'Muppets Now' played things safe for lukewarm comedy that nonetheless charmed audiences with its return to the kind of Muppets show they know and love, the second episode picks things up a bit. The Muppets pick up zeal and energy, as they go all-in on what makes them such uniquely hilarious characters and it pays off. Of course, with a show filled with random, barely connected segments, there are going to be a few hits and misses, but the good far outweighs the bad as the series goes into its second episode.
To get it out of the way, there were only two points at which the show really suffered. The first was with the jokes in between segments. Fozzie Bear (Eric Jacobson) pitching Scooter (David Rudman) on ideas for new shows based of nothing but bad puns is a concept that doesn't really have a lot going for it. Considering how short those bits are, having a random screensaver from Scooter's desktop instead may have been more entertaining. The contestants in Pepe The King Prawn's (Bill Barretta) improvised game show, however, were not just awkward, but uncomfortably bad performers.
The sheer manic energy of Pepe, however, was more than enough to make the entire game show just as chaotic as it was meant to be. In fact, the simple concept owes much to Pepe's performance, as he arbitrarily assigns contestants points, makes up games, and generally ignores the trivia plans set up by straight-man Scooter. While it's not a gag that could sustain itself for a full 20-30 minute episode, when condensed down to a smaller segment, it's a punchy, hilarious concept that was the highlight of the episode.
It's not just Pepe's performance that marks this episode's improvement, but Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson), the Swedish Chef (Bill Baretta) and Dr Bunsen Honeydew (Dave Goelz) and Beaker (David Rudman) were all bringing their best. The Muppets have always had a unique charisma, making the most of even the simplest of concepts, and the show is playing to their strengths. The introduction of the new 'Muppets Lab: Field Test' segment was another one of the show's highlights, as the scientists just straight up burn one thing after another in a series of 'Burn vs Melt' experiments that is sure to delight children everywhere. Beaker's inarticulate but emphatic jealous of the new Beak-R assistant device was especially hilarious - but then again, Beaker has always been able to do more with less.
While the first episode was simple charm, the second episode was a step-up with much higher energy, making the third episode the charm that will tell just how much you can expect from the series, good or bad. However, with Beaker and Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Pepe the King Prawn looking to make more regular appearances, the series is definitely on the right track - just so long as they can find different contestants for Pepe's game show.
The next episode of 'Muppets Now' will air on Friday, August 14, 12 am PST on Disney+.