‘Muppets Now’ Review: Episode 2 – Fever Pitch

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This post contains spoilers for Episode 2 of Muppets Now.

Jarrod Fairclough – And we’re back!  Muppets Now has just uploaded its second episode, and with it we get two brand new segments, alongside the returning Lifestyle and Okey Dokey Kookin.  This episode certainly had its share of big laughs, so let’s dive on in!

pepe unbelieve-able game show

Pepe’s Unbelieve-able Game Show
Pepe’s Unbelieve-able Game Show (here-on referred to as Game Show) might be Muppets Now at it’s absolute comedic best.  While last week’s Mup Close & Personal filled that ‘Muppet Show’ void we’ve all been missing, Game Show had exactly the kind of fun and humor I was hoping for when this show was announced.  Thanks to a wildly funny Bill Barretta, Pepe is dialled to 11 and the show is all the better for it.

As Scooter attempts to produce and announce Pepe’s new show, the King Prawn becomes bored and decides to make up his own rules.  While I’m sure Bill and David Rudman knew what they were planning to do, it’s clear that contestants Brie and Artoun (or, as Pepe calls him, Cartoons), have zero clue as to what is coming next.  Pepe’s opening interviews are great, as Pepe grills Brie as to why she was born in Dallas and asks if Cartoons is only wearing a fully buttoned shirt because he is planning on wearing a tie.  This is Pepe at his best – snarky, kind of mean, and let loose on unsuspecting people, offering random points for no reason other than ‘It’s my show!’

pepe brie jeff cartoons

Game Show also gives us a visit from Beauregard, still played with aplomb by Dave Goelz.  Poor Beau has no idea what’s happening, he’s just been ripping socks off Muppets and putting them in a hamper.  Not an alive hamper, mind you.  No – that’s Carol, who you might recognise as Mean Mama from many old school Muppet productions, but hasn’t been around for over 30 years!  Of course the game is meaningless, as guests are only awarded points for hair or clothes, whatever Scooter decides is fine.  Eventually Cartoons wins, but only because he thinks he should.  Seriously, I’d watch hours of this show.

Gonzo rocks up to help Cartoons in his bonus round, joined by chickens Camilla, Priscilla and Miss Stevens, a name that might be new, considering Dave Goelz’s very slight hesitation before saying it.  In what might be the only musical number in the entire show (first 4 eps, anyway) the chickens sing a ditty as they mix themselves up, and Cartoons has to guess which is Camilla.  Which, both he AND Gonzo get wrong.  There’s been some discussion in the past few years by Kirk Thatcher and even Goelz himself that Gonzo never really knows which chicken Camilla is, and whichever one is closest to him is designated to be her.  That joke doesn’t sit right with me – Camilla has a specific look, she’s the only one with eyelids.  If they’re going to make her stand out, that joke isn’t really going to work.

chef beverly danny trejo

Okey Dokey Kookin
As I wrote last week, this segment is, in my opinion, the weakest of the bunch.  Yeah, it’s defintely got its moments, but I’m not sure there are enough to justify its running length.  This might be my favorite of the 4 I’ve seen though, as special guest Danny Trejo joins to make mole tacos (pronounced mol-ae).

Danny and Chef get off to a rocky start, after host Beverly Plume compliments Trejo’s mustache.  One thing this show has done is make the Chef out to be kind of a dick, which is much funnier than it should be.  Last week he refused to tip a delivery man, this week he’s throwing fists at his competition.  He taunts Beverly for being a wimp over spicy chilli, wearing them as finger gloves and waving at her like a prick.  Of course it all comes back to haunt him when his fingers and face glow red later on.

chef

Trejo is becoming a go-to guest star for the franchise, having appeared in the 2011 The Muppets (his scene was cut), Muppets Most Wanted and the Veterinarians Hospital video at the Hollywood Bowl and O2  live shows.  During a recent chat with Bill and Gene Barretta, Bill revealed that when they receive any Muppet script now, they immediately designate a human role to Trejo, who always accepts.  And it’s always great, with his gruff demeanor contrasting hysterically with the cartoony Muppets.

Eric Jacobson plays a very weird mole, who gets covered in taco ingredients because, of course, Chef has mistaken what mole is.  It’s a fun role for Eric, who rarely ever gets to play one-off characters these days.

beaker bunsen beak-r

Muppet Labs Field Test
Joe the Legal Weasel makes his much anticipated debut on the show destined to make him a star!  And it goes for about 15 seconds.  But what a 15 seconds!  That laugh is the best, and Peter Linz gets all the credit.

In Muppet Labs Field Test, we get actual science lessons from Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker!  It’s a strange upgrade from what we’ve come to expect from the pair.  In the past Bunsen has made banana sharpening machines or edible paper clips or electric sledgehammers.  This time, however, they’re pairing their chaotic brand of showmanship with actual science lessons, this week demonstrating with differences between ‘melt’ and ‘burn’ by lighting everything on fire.

bunsen beaker fire

They’re joined by Bunsen’s new assistant, Beak-R, an Alexa-type device who really doesn’t like Beaker and vice-versa.  The trio put a myriad of things on the ‘Infern-omatic’, just to see what happens.  And here are the results;

  • Ping Pong Balls – MELT
  • Steel Wool – BURN
  • Clock – MELT
  • Marshmallow – MELT & BURN
  • Wooden Spoons – BURN
  • Eggs – BURN
  • Instruments – BURN

The segment also showcases some great chalkboard style animation, featuring Muppets as hystorical figures.  Today Gonzo plays Sir Benjamin Thompson, a cannon pioneer.  Beaker plays himself, being injured by fire in different ways as Beak-R explains various concepts.  Bunsen gets some great screen time, becoming slightly unhinged and pyschotic at the idea of burning more and more things.  I don’t know about this puppet design, though – the mouth is huge on that thing.

Oh, and one more test result;

  • Beak-R – BURN

bobo piggy

Lifestyle with Miss Piggy
I’m happy to say that the joke about Lifesty vs Lifestyle, started in Episode 1, continues tonight, and will become a running gag.

Lifestyle, like Okey Dokey Kookin, isn’t my favorite thing in the world, but the pros certainly outweigh the cons.  Namely, Uncle Deadly is the greatest thing to happen to Muppets Now and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise in the parking lot.  He’s so sassy, and it’s just fun to see Piggy taken down a notch.  His truly cavalier response to Piggy’s collapse is a great bit of comedy.  Bravo, Mr Vogel.  Bravo.

Bobo! Yes, the always welcome Bobo the Bear rocks up to be Piggy’s exercise buddy, destroying her exercise ball and possibly her leg bones as well.  One thing I’m enjoying about Muppets Now is just how much of an ensemble piece it is.  Yeah, there is a LOT of Piggy and Chef, but we’ve seen Mean Mama, we’ve seen Joe, we’ve seen Bobo, and we’re about to see Yolanda and Bubba the Rat, who we haven’t seen in a while!

piggy linda cardellini yolanda bubba camilla

Bubba even went to high school with special guest Linda Cardellini, in something that was clearly improvised but is a really fun bit of world building.  I’m going to say this every week, so get used to it; Man, does Linda Cardellini steal the show!  She’s completely at ease here bantering with Piggy, Yolanda and Bubba, and her penguin friend Jeff who I only just realised is the penguin referee from Pepe’s Unbelieve-able Game Show, whistle and all.  I’m going to need to see her do a ‘Cardellini’ jump splits, though.

easter eggs

Just quickly before we wrap up, I need to say, the Easter Eggs on this show are so good.  Scooter’s video chat is called Rainbow Connector.  His computer has files like ProblemsWithKen_0903 and ProblemsWithKen_1004 (his mothers boyfriend from the 2015 series), Pigs In Space Spec Script and Fozzie’s Jokes *Do Not Read*.  When Fozzie rings Scooter’s doorbell at the end, the alert is Pops who used to man the door at The Muppet Theatre on The Muppet Show.  Keep an eye out, this show is worth some rewatches.

So we come to the end of Episode 2!  Already in the few hours since it became available I’ve seen some very positive responses, especially towards Pepe and his show (and for good reason, too!)  Next week two old guys show up, pizza goes flying, and Big Mean Carl is Big Mean Carl.  See you then!