Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dave Grohl, a back-room ear piercing, and a canon? It must be The Muppets 1×09 ‘Going, Going, Gonzo’, back after a week off. Let’s bitch it out…
This week’s episode is centred on Gonzo. After a near-death experience involving the moon, Gonzo wants to get his groove back and start doing his old daredevil stunts from before. In the parallel plot, Scooter — who was standing next to Gonzo during his near-death experience — becomes likewise obsessed with his legacy. As in previous weeks, I find that the non-Piggy episodes are more compelling as the writers continue to work out the beats on her character. Focusing on the old-school gang reminds us of the history of the franchise, especially given the throw-back to the Great Gonzo.
The return of a classic character like the Great Gonzo is a great choice for the show, and I like the idea of Gonzo dealing with aging and risk aversion but still ultimately going for his dream. It contemporizes a classic Muppet trope without compromising the focus on the Muppets as adult characters. And I love that it gives us a moment of perfect Muppet friendship between Kermit and Gonzo — those friendships, as noted last episode, have to underpin everything the characters do in order for the series to work.
Scooter’s plot is more ridiculous but it still works, especially because Scooter’s version of “living on the edge” is contrasted by the Electric Mayhem in a perfect use of juxtaposition. I also like the invocation of Chad from Spin Class. I bet he doesn’t give a hoot.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt* and Dave Grohl are both utterly delightful as guest stars, but I can’t help thinking that using them both in the same episode is a tactical error. Each could have easily held a whole episode. Instead, JGL’s time feels way too short and Dave Growl appears too late in the episode. That said, the choice to make JGL kind of dumb and a bit of a dick works well, especially in the poker game; likewise, Dave Grohl’s drumming showdown with Animal might be the best use of a guest star all season. While it’s good to leave us wanting more (rather than letting the guest stars bore us to tears), both stars are under-utilized, especially compared to the whole episodes devoted to Kirsten Chenoweth and Chelsea Handler.
*By the way, seeing JGL with the Muppets made me so excited for his forthcoming Fraggle Rock movie. I cannot wait.
I will say that having two celebrity songs this week gestures back to the variety show roots of the Muppets in a compelling way. I think they still work best as an ensemble when they’re as close as possible to vaudeville. More songs and sketches please, writers.
- Miss Piggy’s water has 30 grams of fat. This delights me.
- Is it just me, or is Miss Piggy a better lip-sync-er than Joseph Gordon-Levitt? I guess she has more practice, but it’s weird that she seemS more natural.
- Sweetums being so distraught at Miss Piggy’s disapproval Is magic (though I don’t love Piggy’s list as a concept).
- I like that Pépé calls Scooter “Scooper”. It makes me laugh every single time. I also really love his little card shark outfit — because Are those actually tiny Beats headphones? Ok, I think I just love everything about Pépé. For me, he steals every scene he’s in. The voice and the outfits and the whole bit. I also think this might be because he’s always been the most cynical and adult of the Muppets, so perhaps he simply works the best in this framework.
- Dr. Teeth’s life story makes a lot of things make more sense.
- All of the dreams from the crew are great, but Chip is actually creepier while tap dancing, which I didn’t think was possible.
- Bunsen, Beaker, and the fruit Gonzo is classic original Muppet Show. Bunsen’s cold fascination, Beaker’s meeps of concern, and the exploded fruit is perfection.
- Great satire of the network standards office with Sam once again. It’s perfect that he’s okay with Gonzo dying, but not with Gonzo swearing. Ah, American television, you are so violent and crazy.
- Miss Piggy: “I lost a lot of money on my show gel. It’s still a mystery to me why nobody bought Hogwash.”
- Gonzo: “Actually, my nose is the only bone in my body I’ve never broken. That’s why it looks so good.”
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt: “You’re looking at the guy that played Bruce Willis in the future playing himself in the past or something like that. I never quite understood the plot.”
- Sam the American Eagle: “I always dreamt of serving in America’s Congress, but I can’t even get elected to the board of my condo association. So what if I won’t share my fabric softener in the laundry room? I bought it!”
Your turn: did you enjoy the return of the Great Gonzo? What did you think of JGL’s guest bit? And did you love Dave Grohl versus Animal in a drum battle as much as I did? Sound off in the comments!
The Muppets airs its fall finale next Tuesday at 8 pm EST on ABC (or Mondays at 8 pm on City in Canada).