The continuing evolution of “Muppets Now” in its second episode “Fever Pitch” seems to a find a little more texture in its wackiness and starts to loosen up. It doesn’t lean so heavily on Kermit but for a brief bit which gives a lot more room for the smaller characters to shine. The aspect that is evolving here, unlike the movies, is that it is not a “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” approach. It is simply them going about their day and not breaking the 4th wall per se. From the first skit which is a game show, one of the smaller characters really takes the scene for a ride which is why it works and yet there is always heart. Two or three segments from the 1st episode are repeated but with much better results. But you need the right human talent, either to play off of or just bounce off of. Danny Trejo, who is promoting his taco restaurant without saying it, is the perfect foil for the Swedish Chef but still keeps it kosher. Some really funny bits revolve through this segment both because of the irony but also the visual. Muppet Labs also makes an appearance but again the strength comes out of heart, awkwardness and, in a way, heartbreak which always seems to see characters feeling different things. If “Muppets Now ” can find this balance, this show can really work. There will be misfires but as long as it can keep this off-kilter feeling and start bringing in those left field characters (like the Italian rat who riffs with Linda Cardellini and references a cat in his frame rummaging in the background) then this might be a Muppet foray that can actually survive beyond the season.
By Tim Wassberg