Happiness is a Warm TV

Fall TV: ABC’s ‘The Muppets’ offers nostalgia in modern package

Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in “The Muppets” on ABC.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in “The Muppets” on ABC. ABC

New show: The Muppets

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC

Cast: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, famous non-Muppets

Premise: Think of this as “The Muppets” meets “The Office” with a “30 Rock” twist. It’s a mockumentary that goes behind the scenes of Miss Piggy’s late night talk show, complete with characters talking directly to the camera and flashbacks to pivotal moments in relationships.

In other words, we get to know our favorite Muppets in a new way, namely that they’re not just all furry puppets, but they have (human) girlfriends and sell Girl Scout cookies for their kids.

Ever since The Muppets started their pop culture comeback in 2011, it was only a matter of time before they got their own TV show again. But in 2015, a variety show seems a little dated.

This approach is clever, giving The Muppets a modern update. But much of the humor likely will fly over children’s heads. It seems as though nostalgic adults are the target audience, those who will get Kermit’s innuendo about his love life and penchant for pigs. (Yes, Kermit goes there). Indeed, there are some adult themes involving Muppet-human dating and gender fluidity.

I had high hopes for this one, but the first episode left me wanting more. Maybe the show was trying too hard, or maybe I already had seen the 10-minute teaser earlier this summer, and the tweaks to the pilot made it less funny. But because I love the Muppets, I gave the second episode a go. Here, the show started to find its groove, allowing other characters to have their moments, including Fozzie and breakout Muppet, Bobo, the stage manager.

This will certainly be a great platform for network synergy, giving ABC the chance to showcase its stars, and the human actors who make guest appearances are game for anything. Yes, Josh Groban, I’m looking at you.

One more note: If we’re supposed to root for species-crossed lovers Kermit and Miss Piggy, the writers will have to tone down Piggy’s diva antics just a bit. We know what Miss Piggy’s history, but her behavior leaves us wondering how Kermit fell for this pig to start with.