At one point in The Muppets Mayhem, a character says, “Look, being a super-fan just means you love something deep in your heart. To be honest, I don’t trust anyone who’s not a super-fan of something.” This is exactly what The Muppets Mayhem feels like: a show made for super-fans by super-fans. This show is a love letter to music, to The Muppets, and to chosen family.
While it does stumble a lot during the first season’s last three episodes with plotlines that feel predictable and been-there-done-that for the franchise, there’s no denying that The Muppets Mayhem was made with a heavy dose of heart and soul.
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is one of the most iconic bands of all time, but there’s one problem — in all their time performing, the band has never actually released an album. Nora, who works for their record label, is on a mission to get them to finally record and release this album, but soon discovers this is a much bigger challenge than she expected.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: despite having Muppets in the title, most of The Muppets aren’t here. Kermit doesn’t make an appearance and neither does Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, or basically any Muppet that isn’t part of the band.
At first glance, this almost feels like a recipe for disaster — Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were never that big of a focus in the franchise, and characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy are the most iconic parts of The Muppets. However, this Disney+ series makes it work. I’d go as far as to say this is exactly the fresh direction The Muppets franchise needs, shifting the focus from Kermit and Miss Piggy to some of the other lesser-known or appreciated characters instead.
I’ve never been much of a Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem fan. I think their parts in The Muppet Movie are hilarious, but as members of The Muppets, they’ve always seemed to not really be given that much to do, especially compared to the other members. This show, however, turns them into such likable and funny characters and gives them more depth and backstory, so they feel as three-dimensional as possible.
Janice, especially, is given so much to do in this show — and pretty much every joke she’s given lands — that she’s officially become one of my favorite Muppets, as I’m sure she will for many long-time fans. The other bandmates are sure to be the favorites of many, as well. Animal, Floyd, Dr. Teeth, Lips, and Zoot are all given memorable lines and solid personalities, so they all feel like individuals and not just members of the band.
There are strong themes in this show about the love between the family you choose a la the band members, and with a surprising focus on the backstories of different members and how they found each other, these themes really hit an emotional chord. It’s incredible how much depth and personality are added to these characters, which convinces me that more spin-offs about the Muppets side characters would greatly benefit the franchise.
Of course, it’s not just the characters that make The Muppets so iconic but the music as well. Even non-Muppets fans sing along to Rainbow Connection and most Muppets fans know every word to the theme song of The Muppet Show. Thankfully, The Muppets Mayhem has some incredible tunes in its soundtrack, both for originals and covers.
The theme song is fantastic, so much so that I can see many viewers choosing to watch the intro instead of skipping it. Can You Picture That? is sung again — because how do you make a show about this band without it? — and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem have new tracks that’ll have Muppets fans tapping their feet and head-banging along.
Something I especially love, though, is that many of the songs are used to complement the emotional beats of the plot, rather than just to get the band to play a song. The band’s renditions of True Colors and Bridge Over Troubled Water really pulled at the heartstrings for me because of how much they felt like the best songs to sing at the moment — the lyrics and moods of the songs just matched their respective scenes perfectly as they’re about friendship and being there for each other, making all the emotions felt by the characters feel superlative.
Don’t worry, though: The Muppets Mayhem still boasts the kind of humor The Muppets is known for, like witty wordplay, self-referential moments, and of course, an abundance of cameos. There are appearances here from Danny Trejo, Kesha, Susanna Hoffs, Weird Al, and a lot more. They’re a lot of fun and are pretty much proof that nobody is too cool for The Muppets. Even Quentin Tarantino made a cameo in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.
However, the last three episodes really do keep this from being a near-perfect Muppets entry, because a lot of it is just so uninteresting and uninventive. The last episode, specifically, feels like a rehash of a specific Muppets movie, one I can’t name for fear of spoiling the finale. Once you see it, though, you’ll know exactly which Muppets film I’m talking about. I spent nearly the entire episode thinking, “Didn’t we already do this before?”
All that said, though, The Muppets Mayhem is a solid entry in the Muppets franchise and is the breath of fresh air the franchise needed. Muppets fans are going to eat this one up and beg for more, and with the plethora of side characters in the franchise that Disney could make spin-offs of as well, a new renaissance may very well be in this franchise’s future.
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Glorious meta-humor, a cornucopia of cameos, and terrific time spent with Muppet characters that usually get sidelined — what more could a Muppet fan want?
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