Big changes are in store for The Muppets! As reported a couple months ago, Kristin Newman, the producer of the spy comedy Chuck and the musical comedy Galavant, was in talks to take over for exiting showrunner, Bob Kushell. Well, it seems that Newman was in awhile ago. She recently spoke to hitfix.com and the Hollywood Reporter and gave a little insight into the changes that have already been made and where the show will head when it comes back.
When the big shake-up was first announced, rumors of a reboot were flying fast and furiously. With the information gleaned in these interviews, we now know that “Reboot,” might be a bit too strong a word. There will be no true rebooting, but some of the biggest criticisms against the show will be addressed and rectified, starting with Kermit and Miss Piggy’s relationship and Piggy’s extreme diva-tude.
“I came in for episode 10, which was the Christmas episode that aired before the break, and Day 1 of work was rewriting Piggy-Kermit scenes to really bring that connection back,” Newman said.
“The heart of the whole franchise has always been Piggy and Kermit, and I think breaking them up was really smart. There’s always more story to be told and more tension when two people who love each other are apart instead of together. But what’s important to remember is that they do love each other, and that was being walked away from completely.”
“I believe Piggy and Kermit, deep down, are drawn to each other — and always will be, even if they have a hard time working it out. During the Christmas break, Piggy is sad that she was going to be alone at Christmas and realizes that maybe she needs to not be sitting around, waiting and being lonely. She gets on a plane and goes to Argentina on a solo adventure and as a woman to take care of herself and has an incredible time.”
“She comes back really focused on her work-life balance and bettering herself. She’s going to start to work on her friendships and realize she’s lost herself in little bits. She’s going to be finding her voice again — and Kermit is going to notice.”
As the show has so far revolved, for the most part, around conflicts created by Miss Piggy, a new Piggy with a better attitude isn’t going to create as much tension. As a result, Newman decided to introduce a new human antagonist, a branding guru for the network, played by Utkarsh Ambudkar.
“He comes in and wants to change up everything about the show. He wants to replace Fozzie with a YouTube star who makes noises with his mouth. He wants to just do terrible changes to the show, and Kermit’s got to figure out a Muppet-y way to change “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”
“The Muppets are all about joy and zaniness and heart and the way that they have to fight this bad guy is by binding together. They’re going to bring the people who have been backstage on Up Late With Miss Piggy, doing more sketches and bits and bringing more joy back to her show.”
These sketches promise to be a great addition to the new episodes and, while they will not be the same kind of sketches from The Muppet Show, there is every possibility of seeing updated versions of some of those sketches. My fingers are crossed for an updated Pigs in Space sketch.
“We’re doing an updated Veterinarian’s Hospital, we’re doing an updated Swedish Chef where Bunsen is helping him do molecular gastronomy. We’re taking some of the inspiration from a lot of the old stuff and trying to think about how would Fallon do it? How would Kimmel do it? And getting to see the Muppets being zany and not just being guys who are having a hard time at work but also getting to perform and do silly things.”
Since it became clear that there were a few Muppets missing from the cast of The Muppets, I personally have been lobbying for the return of Camilla, and ultimately “Gonzilla,” and Newman addressed this specifically. Okay, she didn’t exactly say Gonzilla, but I know what she meant.
“I brought back a lot of Muppets like Camilla, returning for Gonzo, Lew Zealand with his boomerang fish, [and] Robin is coming back.”
“We don’t see all of the penguins, but Piggy does tap into her charitable side when she’s in Argentina and Tierra del Fuego and decides to save the penguins, specifically this one in her tote bag, so there will be a baby penguin coming into the show. Foo-foo will be around more.”
One character who is not yet coming back is Walter, the extreme Muppet fan from the two recent movies. It remains to be seen whether he will ever make an appearance on the show, but it has been discussed and it doesn’t sound like Newman is opposed to the idea.
“He’s very divisive. What I have learned as the showrunner of ‘The Muppets’ is that there are as many opinions on the Muppets as there are humans on the earth. So it’s impossible to please everyone. But I’m going to try to put in as many candy pieces for as many people as possible.”
“We’re breaking the finale now, but the idea is that we’re having a Muppet reunion, so we’re going to be bringing a lot of characters back.”
In the end, one of the biggest criticisms of the new Muppet show was the fact that the characters just weren’t “Nice,” anymore. Whether this is true or not is up for debate, but there is an underlying cynicism in the characters and a lot of people aren’t happy about that. Newman promises that this too will be addressed.
“It’s the spirit I’m looking to for inspiration: joy and friendship; Muppets take care of each other; Muppets root for each other, even if Muppets drive each other crazy and get in each other’s way. Muppets, at the end of the day, love each other. So that’s what I try to make every single decision based on. I walked into the writers’ room on my first day and wrote the word “joy” on the wall. That’s what I’m trying to make every decision based on.”
The Muppets will return on February 2 on ABC.
What do you think of this news? Will you check out the “new and improved” series when it returns?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes