Disney has owned The Muppets outright since 2004, and has never really seemed to know what to do with them during that time. The 2011 movie was good and well-received, but the follow-up was quickly forgotten. The 2015 ABC series had an interesting angle—it was framed as an Office-style workplace mockumentary behind the scenes of a late night talk show hosted by Kermit—but it made some questionable creative decisions and didn’t consistently maintain that irreverent but sweet tone you expect from the Muppets. Honestly, the best Muppets project of the Disney era might be the live show that runs at Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square at Disney World, “The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History.” It’s a fun, silly, breezy romp through some of our country’s most revered moments, and has that Jim Henson touch that can be hard to really tap into.
Maybe Disney will get it right with Muppets Now, a new show coming exclusively to Disney+ on July 31. The short-form improv series will be part game show, part talk show, and part cooking show, with the Muppets interacting with different guests in unscripted scenarios. Disney released a trailer for it today, and here it is.
My first thought is that, hey, Joe from Legal is absolutely adorable. I love his little suit and glasses, and how his utterly serious demeanor clashes with his inherent cuteness. Lawyer jokes are low-hanging fruit but that’s often what the Muppets specialize in, so no complaints there. He seems like a character that could’ve existed back in the Muppet Show days—and maybe should’ve. My second thought is “how is Joe from Legal related to Emmet Otter,” the star of the classic Jim Henson Christmas special. I mean, he totally looks like an otter. Apparently Joe is a weasel, though, which definitely fits the lawyer joke more.
My third thought is that this show might actually be good? This is only a short look at it, obviously, and a heavily edited one at that, but the trailer at least makes it look like the show might capture that Muppets spirit.
Decide for yourself, though. Check out that trailer and keep July 31 penciled in on your calendar.