TV review: The Muppets, Sky 1
Clever reinvention of everyone's favourite fuzzy puppets
After over a decade off our screens (and over 30 years since the classic Muppet Show that ran from 1976–1981) Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends are back with a new TV series. Once again we go back stage but unlike the variety show they used to produce back in the day the Muppets have moved with the times and are working on Up Late With Miss Piggy. A riff on the gonzo chat show format of David Letterman, Jay Leno and more recently James Corden.
All your favourite characters are back. Kermit is producer, Gonzo is head writer, Fozzy is the warm-up man, Statler and Waldorf are now firmly ensconced in the live TV audience and naturally Miss Piggy is the star. A hot headed diva with a truckload of demands. It's also a clever format to book guests stars, and in the opening episode Elizabeth Banks and Imagine Dragons make an appearance.
The biggest change is we now see our cuddly cast of critters out in the 'real world' and of course the shocking news that Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up (Kermit is now dating another porcine beauty, Denise, 'what can I say I like pigs.').
The Muppets have a huge fanbase and 2011's theatrical feature (and its sequel) proved the perfect vehicle to cross the generational divide as parents who loved these characters as kids shared this world of fuzzy puppets with their children.
The Muppets 2015 offers fantastic continuity with the 70s/80s series but feels refreshed and revitalised. Taking inspiration from The Office, Parks & Recreation and Modern Family it's now filmed as a fake fly on the wall documentary. And much like the aforementioned Modern Family, The Muppets appeals on several levels, there's the lovable fluffy characters and slap stick for the kids but there's an extra, surprisingly mature, level of comedy for adult viewers (for example saxophonist Zoot makes a barely veiled reference to AA meetings in the first few minutes and Fozzy discovers the other meaning of 'bear' when he enters the world of online dating).
Funny, clever, cute; a brilliant reinvention of a classic brand.
The Muppets premieres on Sky One, Mon 19 Oct, 8pm.