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 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+.
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.