Here’s What the New Muppets Show Needs To Do To Survive

Tonight marks the second episode in the new primetime series, and unless it makes some pretty profound changes, they might as well send Piggy to the Pork Rind factory.

A scene from the opening pilot, "Pig Girls Don't Cry."

A scene from the opening pilot, “Pig Girls Don’t Cry.”

Last week, the highly-anticipated new “adult” Muppet show aired during primetime on ABC. I, like many other fans, had super high hopes for what seemed to be a no-holds-barred take on these classic characters.

However, I walked away from the screen feeling very, very underwhelmed and disappointed.

The show didn’t really “go there” so far as building any sort of ethos for the main Muppets, and the jokes for the most part were pretty mild and lacked the sophisticated, signature Muppet humor that was apparent in some of the show’s preview teasers. Yet the primetime franchise clearly wasn’t for kids: There were enough adult situations that made the first episode, “Pig Girls Don’t Cry,” more along the lines of a PG or PG-13 rated film.

In short, I left feeling confused about the overall concept of the show. There’s potential, sure, but if the rest of the series ends up like the first episode, I have a feeling we won’t be seeing season two of The Muppets (and we might as well send Piggy and Kermit’s new lover, Denise, to the pork rind factory).

Nevertheless, I’ve come up with four things that the series needs to seize on in order for it to really blossom into a cohesive show. The second episode airs tonight: Let’s see if the producers make any of these moves, or if we’ll be singing “It’s So Boring Being Green” at the end of the evening:

More Adult Humor: The pilot episode “went there” on a few occasions, from Denise’s overt sexual advances on Kermit to the parents of Fozzie’s human girlfriend making racist jokes to Kermit proclaiming what I think was one of the signature lines of the first episode: “My life is turning into a bacon-wrapped hell on Earth.” It was those moments that really worked, and the show should go full-force with more of them.

Better Pacing: There were times when the 30-minute show moved at a glacial pace, but come the end of the episode, it felt like there needed to be more. It also finished on a very strange note: with Piggy awkwardly reconciling with Elizabeth Banks on her show “Up Late With Miss Piggy.” It felt awkward. I’d like to see the series move into an hour slot, as it feels like the natural fit for the show. Either that, or get some sharper writers on the script.

More Denise: She’s the seemingly slutty ingenue that has taken the heart of Kermit, and people want more of her. She’s the Muppet nobody knows, thus making her all the more intriguing. Plus, it looks like she wears perfectly coordinated Ann Taylor Loft cardigan sets. Who doesn’t like a pig wearing fast fashion?

More Piggy: While we’re talking about pigs, about the only character that seemed fully developed in the pilot was the one and only Miss Piggy, who, of course, has a personality the size of a hog to begin with. And, let’s face it: Any felt animal that can bench press while texting on an iPhone is my kind of puppet.