TV Recap: Muppets, ‘Pig Out’

Written by Christopher Diggins

muppets-tv-show-abc-2015-trailer

Pig Out Plot Summary

Miss Piggy finds out that the crew unwinds at Rowlf’s Tavern at the end of the production of each Up Late with Miss Piggy episodes and gets herself invited. Meanwhile, Fozzie feels guilty when he accidentally hits Statler with a T-Shirt shot from his T-Shirt Gun enough for him to end up in the hospital. At the same time, Sam starts feeling aroused around Janice.

SWEDISH CHEF

The Muppets has been a bit of a tricky beast so far. There’s a certain edge to it, a kind of mean-spiritedness that hasn’t been present in other Muppets works. A lot of long-time fans have been turned off by that aspect, which is understandable. But there is interesting material to be explored through this meaner take on the Muppets, and there have been some hints that the show plans to dig into these ideas. If you’re turned off by this tonal change, then “Pig Out” won’t change your mind, but it does continue to hint at those ideas that this take is uniquely equipped to explore. Unfortunately, it’s dragged down by some poor writing choices and a continued lack of focus.

The main beneficiary (or victim, depending on your perspective) of The Muppets’ nastiness is Kermit, and he is once again the manipulator at the heart of this episode. When Miss Piggy finds out the crew goes out for drinks after work every day, she forces Kermit to make them invite her, much to their annoyance. But they soon discover that, in the right atmosphere, Miss Piggy can actually be a lot of fun to hang out with. Jealousy and pettiness has threaded throughout Kermit’s character in every episode so far, and it shows quite strongly as the crew filters in, hungover and thrilled to spend more time with Piggy. He’s always been the reasonable, likable authority figure, and he obviously feels threatened by a breakdown in that dynamic. So he appeals to Piggy’s ego and convinces her that she’s too perfect to spend time with the crew. It’s a masterful play by someone whose sneaky, manipulative nature is becoming clearer and clearer with every passing episode, and the contrast between Kermit’s outwardly friendly nature and his slimy dark side is easily the strongest aspect of The Muppets.

ED HELMS, THE GREAT GONZO

As strong as this idea is though, it’s still one that’s only barely touched on. A significant portion of the episode is spent on the bar scene with the crew, Miss Piggy, and a cameo by Ed Helms. They party, drink, sing karaoke, and get into all sorts of hijinks. It’s pretty funny for a while, but by the fourth time they cut to someone singing it starts to wear out its welcome. This would still largely be fine if the episode resolved all its plot lines in a completely satisfactory way, but it doesn’t really. The main plot ends right after Miss Piggy announces her decision and Kermit walks off, smirking about his successful ploy. It’s kind of a down note to end on, and once again leaves us with only the lightest touch upon Kermit’s dark side.

The other plotlines of “Pig Out” aren’t any better. Fozzie visits Statler in the hospital after accidentally hitting him with a t-shirt cannon and tries his best to make amends. For a moment, Statler actually seems to open up to Fozzie, and we get a glimpse of his character that we haven’t gotten in the decades since he’s been introduced…until it turns out it was all just a prank on Fozzie, and Statler is the same grumpy old man he’s always been. This is fine in and of itself, but the plot is abandoned as soon as the reveal of the prank happens. The only real cap on it is a quick credits scene where Fozzie briefly confronts Statler and Waldorf before being duped again. It feels like a rushed finish to a plot that had the potential to be more than a quick joke.

(There is another, very small plot with Sam Eagle having a crush on Janice, but honestly, the less said about it the better. It’s a rehash of tired unrequited love cliches that are more creepy than funny)SCOOTER

I sound harder on this episode than I really am, but it is a little frustrating to see The Muppets continue to make the same missteps. The episode was pretty funny and there is a spark of something special in there, but the writing continues to be unfocused and the themes very loose. I’m still hopeful about this show and I’m excited to see more, but I really hope that it manages to find its voice soon.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Scooter & Swedish Chef Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin / Ed Helms & Gonzo Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.