[Review] - The Muppets, Season 1 Episodes 9 And 10, "Going, Going, Gonzo" And "Single All the Way"

Courtesy of ABC Studios
Better late than never, right? I suppose since these are the last episodes of the show under the Kushnell era, and that the show won't be returning until February, being a week behind on the review isn't so bad. And to be fair, that wee they took off a while ago through off my schedule. Plus, another excuse to cover up the fact that I have been really off the ball lately. And by lately, I meant the last year and a half. Man... this review is turning into way more of a self-reflective shame session then I expected it to be.

Get it together, Clark! Game face, knuckle up, third cliche. Come on!

Of the ten episodes produced of this show, under what was apparently an uneasy creative umbrella, neither are the best. Nor are ether the worst. Both are pretty indicative of the middle road this show likely would have traveled had Kushnell stayed with the program. Neither felt particularity Muppet-esque, being aggressively normal rather than odd. Single All The Way opted to go for aggressively endearing, which is a benchmark of the Muppets too, but really all it made me do was want to watch the Muppet Family Christmas. Going, Going, Gonzo is my favourite of the pair, if only because it was the first episode of this new series to put Gonzo in the A-plot, and make use of the fact that he used to be the craziest character of the bunch and has since become the least (aside from Scooter), and give us a reasonable explanation for that transition.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that were always my favourite show, even before they were on TV.


Both of these episodes under used their celebrities. Clearly, the writers were more focused on building more emotional and cohesive plots for the Muppet characters themselves, leaving little room for more than a cameo. Personally, I'd rather an episode go by without a special guest than to have one wasted, as it felt Joseph Gordon-Levitt and especially Mindy Kaling were. It also seems like the writer have fallen back on the idea that, if they don't have anything for the guest to do, have them sing a duet with Piggy. Which is just lazy, and aside from the pair of Late Shows on CBS, duets don't happen that often on real chat shows. Seriously, both Colbert and Corden sing a lot with their guests. And each other.

As of now, I think the best thing this show can claim is how much development it is giving the very minor Muppets. Considering I started this season complaining that they were only focusing on Kermit, Piggy and Fozzie, it is increasingly nice to see that Yolanda, Chip, Sam, and Uncle Deadly are the real break outs of the series. As much as Kermit might be the ringleader, the Muppets are really an ensemble rather than a supporting cast for a couple leads. Even the increased screen time for Scooter, Rizzo and Pepe is a comforting direction. However, there are still sacrifices being made for other majors, like Gonzo and Rowlf, whose screen time is dependent apparently on how they fit into the lives of Kermit or Fozzie. One offs, like Going, Going, Gonzo are great, but there needs to be a better balance struck between the who and the when.

The show is still getting hung up on the relationship drama side of things, and hopefully after Kushnell is gone they will either drop it, or devout some real emotion to it. Denise made another, nonspeaking appearance in episode 10, which also dealt with Fozzie's relationship as well as Sam's growing obsession with Janice. These are story lines they need to drop or do something with. I'd say drop Sam's story, because it hasn't felt right since it started, and it is turning the character into a sad sack. There isn't any of the tension you might get from a Jim-Pam relationship, mostly because the interest is one sided, and partly because Sam is coming off more creepy than charming. As for Kermit and Fozzie's relationships, they haven't provided us with any real foundation on which to build sympathy. They would be better off building more emotional narratives akin to Yolanda's story in episode 10, where the gang discovers they ignored her last year, and turn her act of greed and revenge into an act of friendship and forgiveness.

Going, Going, Gonzo felt like the writers remembered the way the Muppets used to be. The zaniness was there, if muted. But Gonzo had no fear, Kermit did his flail, Bunsen didn't actively torture Beaker (the torture was always incidental). At the beginning of the season, many people complained about tone-deafness in the characterization in the series, and I guess I was willfully ignoring it, but in Going, Going, Gonzo it felt like we were seeing the Muppets as their truest selves again. This carried forward, probably by accident, into Single All the Way, as it was the Christmas episode, and was naturally high on emotions. But it also featured the Muppets being 1) true to their characterization and 2) earnest with one another. And Kermit and Piggy's heart-to-heart was the first time in ten episodes that those two spoke to one another as friends rather than snipe at one another as enemies. In fact, perhaps the biggest success of these two episodes was that Kermit wasn't a dick.

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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