TV Recap: The Muppets, Season Finale

Written by Chris Diggins

muppets-tv-show-abc-2015-trailer

Muppets Season Finale Plot Summary:

After a mishap during rehearsal, Miss Piggy has to be rushed to the hospital. The crew must keep Pizza (Utkarsh Ambudkar) from interfering with the show while Kermit figures out what to do. Then, an unintentional declaration of love makes both Kermit and Piggy reconsider things.

Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin
Photo Credit: ABC/Andrea McCallin

After months of rocky ratings, fan complaints, and a midseason showrunner switch, The Muppets is finally coming to an end. We don’t know yet whether it will be renewed for a second season (ratings suggest no, but thenĀ againĀ it is a huge Disney-owned property), so it is entirely possible that this is all we ever get out of this show. It’s not fair to judge these last two episodes as a series finale, as they were clearly hoping they’d be able to get more, but it was something in the back of my mind as I watched these last two episodes. So what kind of note does it go out on?

There’s a lot of the sorts of problems I’ve complained about in the past. The focus is almost entirely on the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy, an inexplicable central plot for this season that has often felt both cliche and obvious. Other plots are either resolved far too easily (the crew’s confrontation with Pizza) or are entirely insubstantial in the first place (Rizzo’s crush on Yolanda). The pacing feels off, with every problem resolving too early or just disappearing completely. And the whole thing ends on a cliffhanger that I would be shocked if anyone actually doesn’t know how it will end up.

Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder
Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

And you know what? None of that matters all that much. Because in these last two episodes, they’ve finally managed to do something that they’ve struggled with all season: they made the Muppets energetic and fun. Both these episodes zipped along, full of humor and heart. The sketches they include feel a lot less like bad late night bits and a lot more like actual Muppets segments, from Swedish Chef doing a cooking segment with Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew to the return of Veterinary Hospital. There have been funnier episodes of this show, sure, but none that felt quite this joyful, so embracing of the Muppets’ dynamic.

Besides, as much as the plot with Kermit and Miss Piggy has been undercooked throughout the rest of the season, they did find a way to have it mostly work this time. After a drugged up Piggy declares her love for Kermit and he reciprocates, both start to consider whether a rekindling of their romance is what they really want. This is, at long last, an effective way to add some drama to this idea. The conclusion may still be obvious, but seeing the two come to terms with their feelings and decide what to do feels far less manufactured than previous conflicts. And when some of the crew argue that the two getting back together would be a disaster for the show and Fozzie’s comically terrible reassurances start to make Kermit panic, it finally adds some kind of reason for them not to get together that feels remotely plausible.

Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder
Photo Credit: ABC/Nicole Wilder

A smaller scene shows how far the show has come, though. At the start of the second episode, Kermit talks things over with Rowlf (now a licensed therapy dog). The scene is funny, with Rowlf continually asking for scratches and belly rubs, and it’s also sweet, with Kermit being open about his feelings for Miss Piggy and Rowlf giving some down-to-earth advice. There is something sweet about this whole thing, and it stands not only as one of the best scenes of the show, but as a demonstration of the heart that The Muppets has quietly been building up.

I don’t know if I would have kept up with The Muppets if I wasn’t reviewing it. It was often frustrating or disappointing, and there were plenty of times it didn’t seem like it would get better. But in the end, despite all the criticisms I’ve lodged, I’m glad I stuck with it. Beneath all the troubles, they’re pulling together something funny and warm, something that strikes a new path while honoring the efforts that have come before. This first season was messy, but with any luck, a second season could pull together these strengths and deliver something great. It’s optimistic and I’ve been burned before by this show, but I can’t help it. There’s just something to like here.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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