“Muppets Now” misses the best thing about the Muppets – the songs. Here are some classic clips.
‘Muppets Now’, which debuted on Disney + a few weeks ago, is the latest attempt to revive the Muppets on TV that lacks the best thing about the original Muppet Show: the songs. Everyone loves when the Muppets sing. Yet the disastrous cover of ABC’s Muppets a few years ago reinvented the series as an office-style sitcom where Fozzie Bear had a relationship with a human woman. The show lacked warmth and wit and felt like a churn out of the Hollywood hipster comedy factory.
Muppets Now brings back the sketching style of the original Muppet Show, but the sketches are too long and often not funny. Famous guests appear and do little. RuPaul jokes with Kermit the Frog, that’s fine, but not for six minutes. A taco cooking competition between Danny Trejo and the Swedish chef is great vanity, but not when moderated by a no-fun turkey character, and, again, not for six minutes. Above all, the show lacks music. If you still want to have RuPaul, why not let him go with Miss Piggy? On the original Muppet Show, even the most insipid guests would make a floppy little shoe with rats. Are you telling me that Linda Cardellini wouldn’t like to do a little chorus with her penguin friends?
These are the Muppets we are talking about. Everyone wants to sing with the Muppets. Why doesn’t Lizzo sing Truth Hurts with a bunch of abandoned chickens? Taylor Swift is the ultimate Muppet awakened. Maybe it would cost too much, but I bet they could have persuaded John Mulaney to do an act. Either way, this obviously does not happen. Instead, we got a long game show skit where a few humans threw dirty socks into a monster’s mouth, and then the monster burped big.
The ultimate failure of Muppets Now reminded me of the great musical moments in the history of the Muppets. There are too many to count, but here are some of the infinite numbers available on YouTube.
The ultimate Muppets musical number and one of the greatest absurd songs of all time, Mahna Mahna should be the role model for Muppets Now. You can watch this four times in a row and still be entertained.
Move right away
The Rainbow Connection gets all the memories of The Muppet Movie, but this bouncy number is actually my favorite. A frog and a bear, seeing America!
Muppets Now claims to be a show where a besieged scooter tries to upload videos to YouTube for the streaming generation to enjoy. The irony is that the Muppets were actually the first to adopt viral YouTube videos. For years, they’ve featured some of the best content on the service, including this incredible version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody that’s way better than anything Rami Malek has ever lip-synced.
Ode to Joy
It would also be so easy for Muppets Now to create great viral music content. This simple vanity, from the wordless Beaker singing Ode To Joy all to himself, is a YouTube classic, though perhaps a bit boring to watch more than once. And let’s not forget the classic Muppet singing chickens, heard here bawk-bawk their way through Joy To The World.
Day-O (The Song of the Banana Boat)
It’s the kind of glorious nonsense that once passed for entertainment in America, and could again, if the Muppets just had the guts. Harry Belafonte, the most virtuous celebrity of all time, sings a song about wage slavery in the Banana Republic while being supported by pig sailor puppets and a goofy Fozzie bear. The first person to have the courage to stage something like this again will win $ 70 million.
Man or Muppet
Jason Segel Muppet’s 2011 reboot movie was a bit odd and way too Jason Segelcentric, but it contained plenty of songs by Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords, including this Oscar winner by knockout.
Almost any song
This delicious hour-long compilation of songs from The Muppet Show shows how cheap it would be to do. Most of the songs here are in the public domain. Yes, there are guest stars like Peter Sellers, Zero Mostel, and what appears to be Louise Fletcher, but most of them are puppets. Jim Henson clearly had an affinity for banjo music, and you’d probably have to get rid of the toothless hillbilly pattern, but what’s stopping them from doing an act like Grandma’s Featherbed, like the one they did with fire? John Denver? Or some stupid pirate song? Or a scary rhyme? Anything would work. The internet is full of dumb little musical content. When will the Muppets give it to us again?
One day we will find him.