The Muppets is back, baby! After a two-month hiatus, The Muppets returned to ABC to a new time-slot (Tuesdays at 8:30 pm, set the DVRs, folks). I worried that the break would mean that the show would lose its momentum and audience, but, when I watched “Swine Song,” I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong.
This episode was one of the best because, in true Muppet fashion and tradition, it allows the Muppets to poke a little fun at themselves. The Muppets are best at musical performances, Christmas Shows, and referential humor, the latter missing from most of their television work, but present in the two most recent movies since Disney’s acquisition of the franchise. In this episode, the gang have returned from hiatus and made some changes. Miss Piggy spent her time off traveling to Argentina where she experienced a spiritual makeover and adopted a Magellanic penguin she named “Gloria Estefan.”
Of course, when she returned to the show, Uncle Deadly was charged with taking care of Gloria Estefan who is a handful and enjoys martinis! Uncle Deadly, who was originally developed for episode 119 of The Muppet Show alongside special guest Vincent Price, had faded into the background in the 1980s and was absent for the next 20 years until being resurrected for The Muppets (2011). He has proven to be a surprisingly strong asset to The Muppets series providing quick wit as Miss Piggy’s assistant and costumer.
In this episode, network suit Lucy Royce (June Diane Raphael) appears with consultant Pache (Utkarsh Ambudkar) to update Up Late with Miss Piggy! Kermit’s celebrity friends Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele tell Kermit that their own show was cancelled shortly after Pache’s appearance. Key and Peele help Kermit to try to update the show without Pache’s help/interference by adding segments to the show such as Pepe driving around Hollywood in a taxicab and Bobo performing a dramatic reading of dialogue from Bravo’s The Real Houswives franchise.
The revamped show is a hit without Pache, but Key and Peele ditch Kermit at the last minute to try to resurrect their own careers. Left with trying to fill a few minutes of air time, Kermit & Miss Piggy perform “In Spite of Ourselves,” a folkish/country duet originally performed by John Prine and Iris Dement.
During the break, Kermit had agreed to be more emotionally available to Denise and to spend more time with her and less on Up Late with Miss Piggy! The performance, which would rival the reunion of Mitch and Mickey in 2003’s A Mighty Wind, made Denise see red and audience members see a spark between Miss Piggy and Kermit. After the show, Denise told Kermit that they needed some time to think about their relationship. Perhaps Miss Piggy and Kermit’s on again/off again relationship will be on again and Denise will be kicked to the curb!
The entire episode, I could not help but think of the train wreck of Studio DC: Almost Live (2008), Disney’s first relaunch of The Muppets that paired the Muppets with Disney stars such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Dylan and Cole Sprouse and replaced the Muppet Theater with Disney Studios. The show was not only painful to watch, but it proved itself as a pathetic attempt to introduce the classic Muppet characters by randomly pairing them with young actors geared towards the tween audience. I imagine that was one of Pache’s first assignments and Kermit just blocked out the memory!