On The Muppets Season 1 Episode 2, the show is still in its "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" phase.
Unfortunately, the ratio of jokes that land to jokes that slide off like Kermit the Frog from Josh Groban's torso is about the same as last week.
A lot of ink has been spilled and overwrought think pieces pitched to regarding Miss Piggy's feminism or lack thereof. Personally, up until this show, I was always Team Kermit.
But in this incarnation, Piggy reminds me of 30 Rock's Jenna, whose unpredictable antics and massive ego add a much-needed dose of whimsy in an ensemble that often seems to be wheezing wearily along.
And insofar as it is possible to be outraged be the behavior of Muppets, Kermit's treatment of Miss Piggy is really quite galling. Sure, she always needed to be handled with a little finesse, but seeing Kermit hide under a desk, snickering about her total lack of redeeming qualities is a betrayal of their great and long-standing love.
And even in an episode that was ostensibly about her drama, Piggy was given very few choice jokes. Those mostly went to Kermit.
Since they've been going out, I've been waking up to the sound of my alarm instead of my own screams!Kermit
It was a lot of fun to see Josh Groban, who, as far as I can tell is a slightly less-furry Muppet who is much beloved by America's moms.
Although the timing of a human-pig romance is a little unfortunate, given the recent allegations concerning the British Prime Minister. In spite of that, Groban's duet with MP was one of the few genuinely uplifting moments of the night. Even Statler agreed.
Waldorf: Did you just say 'woo?'
Statler: What?! I'm allowed to feel things.
And, much like The Muppets Season 1 Episode 1 guest star Elizabeth Banks, Groban had just the right self-mocking energy.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone was a little more like me?Josh Groban
But, also like the previous episode, the other guest appearances felt not only flat but crammed-in, like the producers were doing PR favors for everyone on their contact list.
The appearance by Reza Aslan was supposed to highlight how bad Groban's influence was making the show, but instead of being brashly, outrageously awful, it was merely uncomfortable and joyless.
Quality-wise, the show was prison sushi.Dr. Teeth
Speaking of which, there were few laughs to be squeezed from Fozzie Bear's trip to Jay Leno's house, although his continued attempts to hide mementos under his hat made for some fun sight gags. And the C Story, of Bobo trying to sell his daughter's cookies to various members of the crew, just felt like a rejected Stanley storyline from The Office.
Hopefully all the cookies will help Animal avoid his pre-show cry, though, since that was both the funniest and saddest line of the episode.
The Muppets is sill trying to find a tone for itself somewhere between the dewy-eyed sentimentality of Jason Segel's movies and the caustic humor of its sitcom inspirations. Here's hoping they find a way to honor their audience's adult sensibilities and childlike optimism.
What did you think of The Muppets second outing? Are you Team Kermit or Piggy?