I watch the current incarnation of The Muppets. with my daughter. She absorbs on a purely visual level. We could both go for a little more music, but the most recent episodes have added a little more harmony, and toned down on the bitterness that permeated earlier installments, resulting in a really fun show, specifically Going, Going Gonzo and its follow-up, Single All the Way.
The real fun is seeing which characters she has latched onto as the series progresses. Kermit is a favorite of hers, but not far behind is Pepe, of all puppets, Bobo and Fozzie.
Of course, there’s the regulars – Piggy, Rizzo, Scooter, Electric Mayhem, Sam the Eagle – but I’ve been most pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of relative unknowns, and their varying degrees of success. Big Mean Carl has enjoyed a but of a 21st century resurgence, first in a popular YouTube video, and now as the receptionist on the fictional Up Late with Miss Piggy talk show. Yolanda went from nameless rat to Kermit’s star admin. To date, she’s had a few great zingers, and even played a major part in the heartfelt sub-plot of the mid-season finale. Lips is the sixth member of Electric Mayhem, has had more speaking parts than he deserves and in general, does more onscreen for 30 seconds an episode than collecting dust in a closet. Uncle Deadly and Bobo, who always felt like a tandem to me, dating back to their Muppets from Space days, both have their comedic moments, and thrive in their roles – Deadly as Piggy’s wardrobe assistant, and Bobo as… uh… the stage manager? (I’m not looking it up.) But the one C-lister who has stepped up the most has been Chip.
Who’s Chip? He’s from I.T.
This freaky-looking Muppet plays every bit as creepy as he looks. (Those blinking eyes are WEEEEEIRD.) But he’s our creep, and as such, he’s every bit as endearing as bad comic Fozzie. Chip’s memorable moments result in him being the first Muppet from this new series for me to paint*, and even though I’ve lost official track, he’s the 61st or 62nd overall I’ve portraitized.
*I know Chip debuted way back in 1989 – can you believe this dude is almost 30 years old? – but he’s essentially tabula rasa. A blank slate. And they’re nailing it right now.