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Muppets Now: Series Premiere Review – ‘Due Date’ – IGN


The premiere episode of Muppets Now is available on Disney+.
The latest attempt to update The Muppets, while also hopefully keeping the classic charm of the original ’70s series, is the YouTube vlog/Zoom meetings-inspired Muppets Now – which is not as totally tacky as it sounds.Far better than the ABC mockumentary series, The Muppets, from five years ago, Muppets Now only feels slightly strained under the weight of revamping The Muppets for a modern fandom. The show’s improvisational feel, and the fact that, overall, it sticks with the variety show format, helps create a sense of warmth and familiarity for those who might initially object to the cyberspace elements.And look, the fact that Scooter, as the gang’s producer, is uploading these segments and sketches to a streaming service rather than producing them live in front of an old-timey audience isn’t completely out of line. Sure, the very idea of Muppets evokes a yesteryear appeal and a vaudeville aesthetic, but iCarly, which was very funny and hugely successful over a decade ago, proved that a family-friendly series could thrive with a web show as its premise.The first episode of Muppets Now, “Due Date,” is a sweet treat. It takes a few minutes to really get cracking, but after watching Scooter click and drag the various segments, followed by a fashion vlog featuring Miss Piggy and Uncle Deadly (one of the few MVPs from the 2015 series), the episode finds some modest gold with Kermit (new voice actor Matt Vogel) teaching Walter how to properly photobomb in “Muppet Masters.”

Yes, as it turns out, Kermit’s secret superpower is the ability to instantly invade others’ precious photo ops. It’s heartily funny and it nicely warms us up for a cooking segment (“Okey Dokey Kookin”) that pits the Swedish Chef against chef Carlina Will. This entire bit is very well done and a lot of fun as Will does her best to prepare a curried chicken dish while Swedish Chef borks his way through a mess (mistaking plantains for potted plants) and then cutely cheats in order to present something resembling food.

The final sketch is the best, featuring a charming Q&A with RuPaul called ‘Mup Close and Personal.’


The final sketch of “Due Date” is its best. The show’s looser, unscripted vibe builds from Piggy’s fashion corner to Walter to Chef and nicely culminates in a sit-down Q&A with RuPaul called “Mup Close and Personal.” It’s here that the best elements of the series, and the Muppets in general, swirl together for a chat that’s both heartwarming and silly.

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Watching RuPaul’s genuine reactions to Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and more, while also deftly playing along, is a joy. And RuPaul’s extended attendance, with the improv atmosphere, feels right. It works a lot better than Taye Diggs and Linda Cardellini’s pop-ins, which land as too random. Overall, it’s a promising start to what’s hopefully a new and worthy Muppets run on Disney+.

Verdict

Muppets Now overcomes a lot of its initial hurdles by keeping the gist and spirit of the old ’70s (or even ’50s) variety show format and infusing everything with gentle improv. Not everything is going to work, which is apparent in the first episode, and the series lacks a true “center” (right now it’s just Kermit and Scooter checking in with each other online pre-show), but there are gems to mine here.



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Written by Matt Fowler

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