The Muppets S01E06 “The Ex Factor” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Sky One, Mondays, 8pm
Writers: Bob Kushell, Steve Rudnick (teleplay); Nell Scovell, Emily Wilson (story)
Director: Randall Einhorn
Essential Plot Points:
- It’s Denise’s birthday, but Kermit is hopeless at buying gifts. So, desperate and against his better judgement, he asks Miss Piggy to get something for her. An ex buying a gift for a new girlfriend?
- Hmm, not your wisest decision, Kermit… but actually, Miss Piggy (almost) does him proud.
- Kristin Chenoweth guests on the show and the band asks her to play at a party in the desert.
- Her presence in their camper van, however, soon kick-starts some fighting.
- Scooter’s secret hobby is revealed: he loves painting ceramics.
Ah, that old, “I don’t know what to buy this new person I’m dating for their birthday” trope, eh? Always guaranteed to touch a nerve, because let’s face it, we’ve all been through it. And when you’re as hopeless as Kermit, you ask your ex for advice: train wreck ahoy!
We all expect Miss Piggy to show her true diva colours and buy Denise something to end the relationship. But instead, she shows a softer side and buys a thoughtful gift instead (albeit with a secret message inside – the jewellery box plays the song her and Kermit used to say was their own… ouch!). Sometimes it’s hard to picture the inimitable Miss Piggy as anything other than a shrieking harridan, but moments like this go a long way towards explaining why she’s not just a figure you love to hate – there’s a squishy heart in there, too.
It’s also nice to see her chatting with Kristin Chenoweth at the show’s start, because the two seem to be firm friends – Miss Piggy actually is liked by other performers, and it’s not all a front. D’awwww, for a foam puppet, she’s actually fairly three-dimensional, isn’t she?
And speaking of foam puppets, when Denise first comes over to talk to Kristin, check out Miss Piggy’s face. How fabric can radiate such disgust is a mystery, but it does…
Elsewhere, we blessedly lose Fozzie this week in favour of a sub-plot about the band, who are as wonderfully stoned, spaced-out and ludicrous as we’d ever want them to be. Taking them out to the desert is a stroke of genius – somehow Animal’s hair looks fabulous blowing in the breeze – and their falling-out over who’s sleeping with who (and who’s paying who) is marvellously performed.
Is anyone else worrying now about how poor Kristin got home, mind you?
- Kristin Chenoweth
- Miss Piggy and Kristin bonding. “You handled yourself beautifully!” says Kristin, after Denise walks away. “I am pretty good with kids,” nods Miss Piggy. BURN!
- Kermit’s assistant translates female speak to him – as in: when a woman says she doesn’t want a birthday present, she actually does. Is it any coincidence that week’s script was written by two women? It’s true, guys, it really is.
- Gonzo’s birthday present suggestions are priceless. “Girls are always asking if they look fat – with a scale, they can know for sure!”
- Kermit’s dresser, Dudley, seems to get more to say each week. And he’s hilarious. Look out, Pepe, he’s threatening to steal your crown of Funniest Muppet!
- What is the deal with Chip? Jokes about him stalking Denise’s emails are really creepy, as is Chip himself. He does get to deliver a funny line, though (see below).
- Miss Piggy and Kristin singing “I Could Have Danced All Night” is a crime against eardrums everywhere. But it’s nice to see Kristin, well-known for everything from Glee to Broadway shows, so cheerfully parodying her knack of hitting a screeching high note at the end of a song that really didn’t need one.
- When the band drive out to the desert, Animal is in the back of the camper behind a grill, just like you’d use to section off a dog. Course, it turns out they’re just beads, but the illusion still works – and he behaves like a dog anyway, doesn’t he?
- Kermit: “Chip, close the laptop!” Chip: “But then I don’t know what to do with my eyes.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson