Jim Henson's beloved Muppets have starred in a couple movies in recent years, but in 2015 Kermit and the gang will return to their television roots in a new ABC TV series. The new Muppets program was recently ordered to series, based on the pilot and pitch by Bill Prady - co-creator of hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory, as well as a onetime Fraggle Rock TV show writer and screenwriter of the Muppet*vision 3-D short. Prady's ties with the world of Henson puppets runs deep, in other words.
ABC has launched a trailer for its Muppets TV series - and, in a fitting bit of Muppet meta-humor, the preview is all about Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and their peers plotting out their new ABC TV show. You can check out said preview, above.
The format of this series will be different than the variety show layout of past Muppet television ventures (including the classic 1970s The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight from the late '90s). ABC's The Muppets will instead utilize the "mockumentary" approach of 2000s comedy shows like The Office - much to Gonzo's disapproval, during his interview asides (or approval, when he's around the other Muppets onscreen).
Both the Muppets TV show trailer and ABC's official logline also emphasize that this series is "a more adult Muppet show, for 'kids' of all ages." Specifically, it will take a leaf from 30 Rock's playbook and focus on the various Muppets' lives and relationships - both personal as well as professional in their nature - in order to offer a "behind the scenes" look at the Muppets' lives. That will extend far beyond the usual Muppet business of highlighting the tumultuous romance between Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy - though, that'll still be part of the fun here, as illustrated by the trailer footage.
The Muppets (2015) will have an overall family-friendly tone (as reflected in the first footage), but it does appear as though the series will indeed be "more adult," on the whole. There are a number of jokes in the trailer alone that are clearly aimed more at an older demographic more than the juice box crowd - be it the gag with Ralph having undergone surgery or the bits concerning Fozzie's love life (or Kermit's thing for pigs).
Basically, this looks more like a Muppets TV show that was made to fit an era where meta-humor and self-reflexive comedy is very much in fashion on television right now (see: Community, Louie, The Comedians, etc.). There are no doubt Muppet fans who aren't going to like this approach - and/or will need some time to adjust to it - while others, both young and old, will take to it. At the least, the way this show's being done should very much allow for special cameo appearances along the way (READ: Our suggested list of 20 Great Celebrity Guests for the new Muppet series).
As for whether or not the show will have that classic Muppet blend of heart and zaniness, that remains to be seen... but fingers crossed, it does.
The Muppets will air Tuesday nights on ABC, starting in Fall 2015.