The Muppets Recap: Bear Left Then Bear Right


By Karen Valenzuela, @VictoriaNoir89

The Muppets has now given us three pretty solid episodes. However, “Bear Left Then Bear Right” wasn’t up to the standards of the first two episodes. In a lot of shows, the first half of the premiere season is for ironing out the issues. The creators and writers discover what works, what viewers like, which characters work better than others until the pieces fit together and the winning combination of characters and the tone of the show is where it needs to be.

“Bear Left Then Bear Right” relied heavily on three trope-ish subplots, which honestly works for the Muppets. From their very beginning, the Muppets have been about satirizing popular culture, and that includes the typical sitcom trope.

The first trope is introduced right as the episode starts. Yolanda Rat delivers a message to Kermit during the latest Up Late recording. Fozzie Bear wants to know whether Kermit has read his comedy sketch. Kermit did in fact read it, and both he and Yolanda agree that it’s a “dumpster fire.” Ouch. Maybe a little harsh, guys.

Or maybe not, because when Fozzie and Kermit sit down at a bar to talk about the sketch, after a few amusing scenes of Kermit attempting to hide from Fozzie, the bear reveals that it revolves around a porcupine buying dress socks. Fozzie, no. Please just no. Granted, one of the best things about Fozzie is that he tells really bad jokes, and isn’t really all that funny. Which is what makes him so funny! So it makes sense that his sketch is poop! But of course, instead of letting Fozzie down nicely, Kermit lies and tells him that the sketch is so good, it’s too good for their show. He tells him to write a movie instead. Kermit, never! ever! lie to your buddy like that, okay? We’re talking Friendship 101, here.

Unfortunately, their little talk over pumpkin spice beer leads Fozzie to make a huge decision. He’s leaving the show to pursue his new dream! He’s writing a movie! …Oops. Fozzie drives off into nature to find his inner writer—a bit of a writer-bear sabbatical, if you will. “HASHTAG WRITER’S LIFE!” (Speaking from a bit of experience, Fozzie, it’s not that exciting. This is a path that is wrought with danger, my furry friend. Turn back. TURN BACK!) Kermit calls Fozzie while he’s on the road and finally tells him the truth, but it’s poorly timed, and instead of taking what his best froggy friend says to heart, Fozzie doubles down on his decision to write a movie. And now there’s a wedge between our favorite frog-bear combo. Way to go, Kermie.

Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame does the Muppets a huge favor by filling Fozzie’s shoes. (Not literally, because Fozzie doesn’t wear shoes. He’s a bear. Bears don’t wear shoes. Ties and hats, sure. But definitely not shoes.) This poses a new problem for Kermit (and serves as karma, perhaps?) when Offerman takes Kermit’s “We really owe you one, Nick” a little too seriously, first requesting a super fancy brass cappuccino machine, and then deciding he wants Kermit to buy him a sloop instead.

Of course, Kermit starts to really ponder his friendship with Fozzie over the years, and how supportive his best friend has always been. As Kermit clicks through some slides of buddy pics, he voiceovers to the camera about how he’s let Fozzie down this time. Go after him, Kermit!! Make things right, Kermit!!

Meanwhile, Fozzie is absolutely failing in nature. He might be a bear, but he’s more Muppet than bear. However, the nearby family of campers see him as just a bear. And they run away screaming. Just as Kermit finds Fozzie, so does a park ranger who shoots him with a tranquilizer. When the bear finally wakes up, he’s still very much under the influence as he and Kermit hash things out, with Kermit promising that they’ll work on his porcupine sketch together until it’s good enough to be on the show. Yay friends!!! It should also be noted, as someone who has walked a lot of drunk friends home after parties, I found the Kermit/Tranquilized Fozzie scene amazingly relatable.

The second trope is the celebrity rivalry. Piggy’s always been the Muppet who has skirmishes with celebrity guests. Because she’s a diva. She’s not about to let anybody embarrass or outshine her, especially not on her own show. And that’s exactly what guest star Christina Applegate does. When the star appears on Up Late, she springs a surprise on Piggy. According to Kermit, Piggy hates surprises (like a certain blond spy we all know coughSarahWalkercough), and after the clip rolls, we kind of see why. The clip is from Christina Applegate’s birthday party, in which Piggy takes an unfortunate spill into the birthday cake, before slipping and falling on her bum. It’s a double whammy of embarrassment. And Piggy vows to get revenge on her guest star. Like any bad ass, she says it right to Christina Applegate’s face, too. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

She enlists Scooter’s help, charging him with finding any embarrassing or incriminating videos on her new rival. But he strikes out, instead finding more incriminating clips of Piggy. Maybe be nicer to the wait staff at restaurants, Piggy. You’re a pig. You’re not supposed to be picky about the food you eat.

Piggy decides to create a video to embarrass Christina Applegate when Scooter comes up empty. They go to Christina’s house, where Scooter knocks on the front door holding an adequately frosty cake, tasked with slamming it into the actress’ face. Piggy waits in the car with the video camera to catch it on tape. Turns out Scooter isn’t great at pranks and Christina Applegate figures out exactly what’s happening. Not wanting Scooter to be fired, she smashes the cake into her own face. Piggy, in the meantime, get mistaken for a stalker by a police officer passing by. Annnnnd she’s arrested. So we’ll see who puts up the bail money in episode 4, maybe.

And the last subplot trope is the online dating misadventure. Of course this one stars Gonzo. Who else? That giant blue schnoz of his lends itself to some really fun Catfish possibilities. And that’s exactly where the writers went.

First of all, I’m not going to tip toe around the issue of Gonzo and Camilla’s break-up, because that legitimately disappointed me. Kermit and Piggy breaking up? It hurts but you kind of get it, you know? What with Piggy’s diva tendencies and temper, and Kermit’s neuroses. But Gonzo and Camilla??? They always had such a strong bond. Gonzo goes for the chickens, just like Kermit goes for the pigs. Anyways, that’s a me problem, and not really a this-show problem. So I’ll move on.

Gonzo reveals to his buddies Pepe and Rizzo that he has scheduled a meeting with a woman he’s been speaking to online, thanks to Chip the IT guy reading his emails instead of actually doing IT guy things. (Chip is kind of funny but mostly super creepy.) As it turns out, Gonzo Catfished this woman by putting a picture of Liam Hemsworth up instead of a picture of himself. I mean, Liam Hemsworth isn’t exactly the worst choice he could’ve made there.

Rizzo and Pepe have a plan to fix Gonzo’s mistake before the date, and they make Liam Hemsworth think he’s going to be a guest on Piggy’s show, luring him to the same café where Gonzo is meeting his date, Debbie. They tell him Gonzo’s problem and enlist his help. His job is to meet Debbie and ask her if she would still be interested if he wasn’t quite so good looking. When he gets her answer, he needs to introduce Gonzo. And ta da!

Except no ta da. Because when Liam asks Debbie if she’d still like him if he wasn’t incredibly handsome, her answer is, “The only thing that matters to me is who you are inside.” It charms him. And he decides to come clean, telling her that he’s actually Liam Hemsworth the actor, not Gonzo. Instead of introducing her to the actual Gonzo, he tells her she’s the first person who’s liked him for more than just his looks, and he invites her to continue their date elsewhere. No Debbie for you, Gonzo. And I think we can all agree that Liam Hemsworth is a butthead.

In all, there was solid writing for this episode, but Piggy’s subplot fell a little flat in particular, and there were definitely some pacing issues this week. It did, however, give us some really funny bits.

Some Really Funny Bits:

  • Yolanda: “I have to dump this possum I’m seeing. He’s disgusting. Not because he’s a possum. Because he’s in advertising.”
  • Piggy: “The world just saw me with frosting in my Piggy Parts!!!”
  • I’m confused. Either the Swedish Chef is all about gender fluidity, or HE is actually a SHE. Or maybe I’m completely overreaching and Christina Applegate simply didn’t understand what Swedish Chef was saying. I mean, it’s Swedish Chef. Derrr’s boondoo be duh bit of misunderstoobly. (waves spatula around)
  • Kermit’s impersonation of a baseball trophy is truly inspired.
  • Kermit: “Where you going, anyway?”
    Fozzie: “I’m off the grid! You’ll never find me!”
    Siri: “Turn left on Big Bear Road. In .2 miles, your destination is on the left.”
  • Rowlf taking his cone off to bite his stitches is exactly why dogs shouldn’t have people hands.
  • So all this time, Pepe thought it was the WIDE House, not the White House. “No, it’s the WHITE House. It’s WHITE.” “Okay, but it’s also wide.” “You know, we may not be the guys to write political humor.”
  • Pepe calling Liam Hemsworth “Meester Hhkkkhhandsome Man” was simply the best. Better than all the rest.
  • It’s part of the mockumentary genre to open a scene with a quick shot of the setting. At one point, we see a shot of the outside of the Up Late Sweetums rides past some people on his bicycle, waves, and goes “Hiiii” in his friendliest monster voice. It’s so unexpected and funny, and Sweetums is the cutest.
  • It is heavily implied in this episode that Janice and Nick Offerman hook up. JANICE GOT GAME. LIKE FER SURRRE.
  • Kermit: “I once had a shot to go to medical school, but turns out they just wanted to dissect me.”
  • Fozzie’s attempt to get into the bear bag he sees hanging in the tree is absolute genius. Get it? Because he’s a bear? Trying to get into a bear bag? Well done, show.
  • Fozzie: “Have you ever been shot with a tranquilizer dart, Kermit?”
    Kermit: “Uh, well, no, but I did lick my third cousin once and the walls started melting, so I feel you, bro.”

Catch the next episode of The Muppets on ABC on Tuesday night at 8 pm!

Rating: 3.5/5

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