Mitchell Stein- It feels good to finally have the Muppets back in our TV screens for the second of these six final wonderful episodes of The Muppets and the second episode under Kristin Newman’s newly helmed version of the show developed by Bob Kushell and Bill Prady. Many of us were skeptical about how a showrunner change mid season could ultimately affect things negatively. Instead, Kristin Newman takes our concerns and blows them right out of the water by delivering probably one of the best episodes yet.
I’m forever thankful for the work that Bob Kushell put into the series and for helping to get this show off the ground, but that show certainly had a few gaping holes in it. Now in place with her new position, Newman swoops in to fix those issues with the show in the finest fashion possible.
Although Muppet continuity is a joke onto itself, it would be an injustice to not pay tribute to the Muppet legacy. This week, Newman and her writing crew fixed probably one of my biggest problems I had with the series in its previous form; Gonzo.
I absolutely love Gonzo, and I was thrilled with his role and character arc in the series, but I was bothered by his duller, melancholy self in the first half of the show. It also seems Prady and/or Kushell chose to ignore over thirty years of Muppet history, and left Gonzo’s lifelong love interest, Camilla unmentioned, to instead make way for a subplot about Gonzo taking up online dating. It was a funny subplot that I thought worked really well, but I was awfully sad to not see Camilla alongside Gonzo anymore. I never thought it’d be something worth caring about, but once Camilla was out of the picture, it was quite saddening.
We’ve already been given a great episode about the redemption of Gonzo thus far, but there was still work to be done with this daredevil’s character arc. In this episode, we find that Gonzo is still heartbroken that he and Camilla are no longer a couple. Upon seeing this, Rizzo and Pepe rally together to help cheer Gonzo out by encouraging him to move out his old apartment and into a new home, which they all later agree to live in together. To celebrate, the trio host a massive pool party at their new home. Although the party was meant to help Gonzo move on from Camilla and into his bachelor life, Gonzo and Camilla are both unexpectedly reunited causing for a spectacular cliffhanger-ish reunion between the weirdo and the poultry.
Although mildly predictable, I couldn’t help but be thrilled by Camilla’s grand reintroduction. It was a heartfelt moment so perfect that it may even rank as one of my favorite Muppet moments ever. Which is incredible considering Camilla was never a character I cared much for. It was certainly pleasing to get such great closure on this issue and I could not have asked for any better way to do that.
All that aside, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface on this episode yet. This week sees Miss Piggy accidentally reveal her tail at the premiere of Disney’s Zootopia, causing a panic for the network and to the dismay of the One Thousand Angry Parents Association. I didn’t think I would love this subplot as much as I did, but it led to some of the funniest moments and in the end, wrapped in a truly sweet Muppety fashion.
Through heartfelt goofiness, the episode surprisingly conveyed a positive message about body image, but additionally, to not be afraid of being who you are, or be defined by other people’s views or expectations. It was a really nice message, one which I was surprised, but delighted, to find. I don’t think every episode should need a message to convey, but I’m so very happy to have surprising moments like these. To cap that off, is Joan Jett singing “Bad Reputation” ending this glorious episode in true Muppety fashion.
With all that said, there’s another topic that certainly deserves a discussion this week, and that is of this episode’s “adult” content. I found it interesting that there was almost nearly as much “adult” content in this episode as there was in the series pilot episode, “Pig Girls Don’t Cry”. However, in this episode, it just works. Ditching the “Woah! I can’t believe they just said that” moments, its subtle, and it blends together with the episode without retracting from anything too much. Which is kinda how I feel has worked for over thirty years of Muppet history.
When the show first began, I would read a lot of comments online that say “the Muppets were never meant for kids”, which I can agree is partially true. The Muppets were never meant for kids; they were meant for families. The Muppet Show was the kind of show that kids and the adults could both watch and even have jokes that the things kids wouldn’t pick up on. I feel like Kristin Newman clearly understands this, and has learned the perfect balance that makes the Muppets work so well.
I don’t know if A Tail of Two Piggies marks one of my favorite of the series yet, (its got some serious competition for that role) but I do know is that I was really, really pleased with it. Not only is it outright hilarious, but it displays a wonderful message and fixes a few issues that needed some attention.
I really am so very pleased with what the show has become and I don’t think the show could be in any more capable hands than where it is now. Thank you Kristin Newman.