The Muppets Recap: Swine Song

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By Karen Valenzuela, @VictoriaNoir89

They’re baaaaaaaaaack. Da da da da duhda da!

And they are so. much. better.

ABC made some personel changes on The Muppets over the holiday break, replacing executive producer Bob Kushell with Galavant’s Kristen Newman. They promised more skits, more joy, and more of the Muppets of old. As The Muppets swung back into action Tuesday night, we learned that Up Late With Miss Piggy is also being…let’s call it updated. Although be careful what words you say around Piggy, because she might hiiiiiiYA you all the way back to Argentina, where she spent her holiday break.

In fact, as the episode opens, we find that they were all given some time off to adventure and chill a bit. For Yolanda, that meant going to Jamaica and coming back with dreads. Because Yolanda would. Pepe and Rizzo went on a “boys trip to dee Amsterdams” and they aren’t talking about what happened there. By the look on their tiny prawn and rat faces, it’s best we don’t know.

Kermit enjoyed his time off being laidback with Denise, his current main pig squeeze. He tells us that he and Denise talked and he’s decided there needs to be more of a boundary between his work life and his personal life, mostly so that he can spend more time with his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Piggy has returned from Argentina with a ridiculous amount of ponchos, a habit of speaking really awful Spanish, and a newfound sense of I’m-Totally-Over-Kermit (although methinks pig doth protest too much)…Oh, and also she stole a penguin and named it Gloria Estefan. So there’s that. But it has its own poncho and it’s so CUUUUTE and Muppetyyyy and it makes this little “EH!” sound that drives me bananas in the best way! Nevertheless, thus begins the adventures of Uncle Deadly the penguin-sitter and Gloria Estefan.

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As it turns out, Piggy’s trip was so transformative that Kermit’s arrival and insistence on boundaries doesn’t upset her in the way he thought it would, and instead she’s very supportive. He takes this as a really positive sign…until Scooter shows up to tell him the network president just stopped by and wants to speak to all of them. MAJOR UH OH.

She announces the network thinks “Up Late With Miss Piggy” is amazing…but there’s a catch. The talk show has too much talking. I like to think of this as the writers making a jab at actual network execs, who’ve probably said more inane things than that to their showrunners. Am I right? The network president Lucy Royce (played fantastically by June Diane Raphael from Grace and Frankie) brought in Pizza (pronounced PA-chay), the network’s branding guru. Because apparently Up Late With Miss Piggy is only watched by old people. (Honestly, since when is that a bad thing? CBS is doing just fine.) Pizza (Utkarsh Ambudkar from The Mindy Project) insists that the show needs to be made relevant again, with more social media–tweets and youtube personalities and other soulless and idiotic things that don’t fit the Muppet vibe even a little bit.

Kermit turns to some of Pizza’s past clients and invites Keenan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Key & Peele fame to the office. He and Piggy ask them about their experience with Pizza, and they quickly go into super spy secret mode, closing the door, the blinds, checking to make sure nothing in the room is bugged. And then they admit that Pizza was crazy and awful. He got their show (Shadoink!) canceled, and now they’ve been reduced to sharing a one bedroom apartment and selling oven mitts on Etsy.

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Piggy takes the guru’s slam on her show to heart in a really bad way, even though Kermit insists they’re going to figure out how to update the show their way. When Kermit and the others have a meeting to do just that, Piggy shows up looking like Iggy Azalea. She even tries to twerk up in Kermit’s personal bubble. (Too much too soon, Piggy.) As Kermit quickly guides Piggy out of the room to keep her from further traumatizing everyone, the rest of the gang starts an impromptu jam session with nothing but their voices and the various props around them. It’s an a capella version of the Muppets theme song and it’s the perfect Muppety moment the show’s been reaching for in the last 10 episodes but never quite achieved. Kermit and Piggy witness the event, and the idea to update the show comes to him. They don’t need Pizza’s gimmicks; what they need is to bring more of their friends into Up Late With Miss Piggy. “You’ll still be the heart of the show. We’re just adding a little more joy!” And perhaps this is a subtle hint that they’re adding more joy to the The Muppets as a whole. I DIG IT.

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The Muppets work late into the night brainstorming on new skits to add to the show, so late in fact that they end up falling asleep in the office, and Kermit misses the 5K charity run he promised to participate in with Denise. She shows up and sees that Kermit and Piggy fell asleep all snuggled up (as snuggled as a pig puppet and a frog puppet can be) on the writers couch. She is not happy, to say the least, for many reasons. Kermit apologizes for staying so late at the office, for not following through with the boundaries between work and personal life that they talked about, and for missing the 5K run. Denise decides to forgive him and they make up, sort of.

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But the night of the show, Pizza shows up at the live taping and informs Kermit that he sabotaged the show, sending guests Key & Peele off to another gig. Frantic, Kermit and Piggy have to figure out how to fill the time slot, and they decide to do one of the duets from back in the day. It’s a major hit with the audience. There is one person who doesn’t enjoy the performance, and that’s Denise. She, like everyone else, sees the sparks flying between Kermit and Piggy as they reunite onstage. And at the after party, she approaches Kermit and breaks it off with him.

With the Kermit and Denise relationship on a break, and with the sparks that flew between Kermit and Piggy not just during the song, but throughout the entire episode honestly, I wonder what’s on the horizon where Kermiggy is concerned. (I just came up with that. Is it too much? Kermiggy?)

ALSO, we need to talk about the new intro to the show. Did anybody else notice the differences at the end? Instead of having Kermit stand there with an empty mug and say “It’s time to get things started” in a resigned, downtrodden, and unexcited voice, Piggy swoops in with a special latte and hands it to him with an affectionate “Kermiiiiie!” And then Kermit says “It’s time to get things started!” with excitement, like he’s stoked to be there, and stoked about the show! That positive mood that fits the Muppet brand much better aside, are they hinting at some movement on the Kermiggy front with Piggy bringing Kermit a coffee??? Maybe I’m reading too much into this, OR MAYBE I’M NOT. Oh man, you guys! It’s like Miley Cyrus/Liam Hemsworth getting back together, except actually satisfying.

The scenes between Uncle Deadly and Gloria Estefan the penguin were completely adorable and funny. They had some of my favorite moments in the episode, by far. And then they had so many more of the other characters, from Animal to Bobo, Pepe, and even Lew Zealand with his boomerang fish! Add to that the way they are beginning to bring the spirit of Jim Hensen back, with more songs, more heart warming moments, more punny slapstick and one liners. It’s still very much updated and genuinely funny. And at the same time, they have managed to keep the spirit of the Muppets alive. The Muppets has taken some major steps forward, and they didn’t even have to revamp the entire show. They just made a few tweaks here and there. I also think it’s safe to say that we’ve seen the end of the Denise/Kermit/Piggy triangle. Kermit’s a single frog and Piggy is a single pig. And Denise? Denise didn’t do well with the viewers so I’m pretty sure she’s been put out to pasture. Yikes.

And now for some Muppety Musings:

-“I totally got my groove back! But I think I left it on the plane.” If you’ve never felt this way about going back to work after a vacation then GOOD FOR YOU and I hate you a little bit.

-Nobody asked Gonzo about his vacation and I feel bad for him. I WANNA KNOW, GONZO! HOW WAS YOUR VACATION, GONZO?

-Piggy has a penguin from Argentina called “Gloria Estefan”, because it was the only Spanish name she could think of. IT IS SO CUTE AND I WANT A BABY MUPPET PENGUIN SO BAD.

-Uncle Deadly continues to be terrifically melodramatic. He tells Kermit that Piggy thinks she can speak Spanish now, and that it’s a nightmare. Then he dramatically wiggles his fingers and repeats in his spookiest voice, “A nightmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarre” as he backs offscreen.

-Uncle Deadly: “Well that was perfectly timed.”
Scooter: “Well, thank you so much! You know I’ve been working on my comedic entrances in  my improv class.”
Uncle Deadly: “……….”
Scooter: “……….”
Uncle Deadly: “……………”
Scooter: “……………..”
Uncle Deadly: “Haven’t gotten to exits yet?”
Scooter: “No.” (leaves)
Uncle Deadly: “No.”

-This show continues to excel at funny background details. When Royce tells them to think of Pizza as part of the family but like he’s the dad, in the midst of the confused murmurings of the other Muppets, you can hear Animal ask in a cute, confused voice, “Dad-dy???”

-Animal would like Chuck E. Cheese. Where an animal can be an animal. Can you imagine him in the ball pit? Haaaaaa!

-I thought I was going to bust a gut when Kermit said a lot of the Muppets weren’t tech savvy, and the camera switched to Animal looking down at a muffing, going “Siiiriii? Siri?”

-Sam the Eagle: “Well, this bird will never tweet! Tweets are to signal danger, or request nourishment from Mother Bird!”

-It’s no surprise that Pepe is a giant Gloria Estefan fan-prawn, but apparently he’s also written her some “pretty intense letters over the jjjjj’years”. Kermit’s look of concern after Pepe’s admission is utterly priceless.

-“As my mother used to say, let’s let the old boob tube do some of the heavy lifting.” Okay but this has some pretty dark implications about Uncle Deadly’s childhood. I’m concerned.

-Piggy’s outfit is an EXACT replica of the weird winking mouse fuzzy leotard thing Miley Cyrus wore onstage and I’m sorry, but this show’s creators are geniuses.

-Piggy: “YOO HOOOO! Consider me updateeeeeed! Doesn’t this make me look YOUNG?”
Scooter: “NO.”

-The Muppets a capella-ing their theme song touched me deep inside of my heart and almost made me cry.

-Quick thought about Kermit doing a 5K run. Where does he pin the race number?? He doesn’t wear clothes! Does he wear a special shirt or a tank top just for the race and then pin it to that? Like everybody else does? WHERE IS THE NAKED FROG GOING TO PUT HIS NUMBER???

-Denise: “I just wanna feel like a priority, you know?”
Big Mean Carl: (from the other room) “HEY, I HEAR YA!!! I’M THE YOUNGEST OF NINE!!!”
Kermit: “Thanks a lot for that, Carl!”
Carl: “YOU ASKED!”

-“So it’s the big show and I have butterflies in my stomach. Seriously, when I’m nervous, I stress-eat butterflies. They have a lot of carbs.” – Kermit the Frog

-“Pepe the Uber Driver” could be its own show and I would watch every single second of it. I really would. “What hgghappened to jer hgghair??”

-Bobo the Bear trying to cross his big Muppety bear fingers and failing was the cutest.

-Apparently Piggy brought enough ponchos for everyone on the staff and crew to wear one at the show’s after party. That’s a lot of ponchos, Piggy. That’s too many ponchos, Piggy.

Catch next week’s episode of The Muppets next Tuesday on ABC at 8:30pm ET/PT! And let us know what you think of this new direction in the comments!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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