They is, am, are, and be,
they who is and are known as
THE ELECTRIC MAYHEM!
Album Cover Art by Matt Taylor
I apologize for how long its taken me to cover the recent Disney+ Streaming Series The Muppets Mayhem, a ten episode series featuring the Muppets legendary rock band, The Electric Mayhem.
Let me start by saying WOW! I absotively posilutely lovified this streamificated narrative of musical proportions. Heheh, channeling my inner Dr. Teeth there. Truthfully though, I am happy to say I really enjoyed it.
The Muppets Mayhem does a lot right. I would even go so far as to say it does what it sets out to do better than some of the previous attempts to 'modernize' the Muppets. How? Well, at the heart of what makes The Muppets Mayhem not just a great series but a great Muppets series is that this series embraces the fact that the Muppets are Muppets.
The laws of physics and other basic facts about our world change when the Muppets are around. They themselves can instantly change clothes, make items appear out of nowhere, get squashed, stretched, and of course, survive massive explosions. When Humans enter the presence of Muppets - and vice versa - the normal people become part of the Muppets' extraordinary reality. Forget that, ignore that, and you lose a great deal of the magic of the Muppets. The Muppets Mayhem doesn't shy away from this but rather embraces it.
Well All Right!
On to a full-on Barking Alien-a-rific review...
So much! The element that stands out the most to me is, as noted above, the Muppet-ness of the band and how the band interacts with the world they're in. It is both subtle and apparent and happens throughout the series. It isn't focused on but rather just happens as an aside to the scenes the Muppet characters are in. Clearly there are things that occur in the series solely because Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem are Muppets.
Another thing about the series that I loved was the detail and depth given to the characters. Each and every member of the band, including 'new' member Lips, is given time to shine and has some great moments dedicated to them. While not every character gets heavy character development, all the characters get the chance to stand out, to be distinct, to be funny, and to make the viewers feel like we got to know them. A very impressive feat given an aspect of the show that I'll discuss below (The BAD).
I liked the Human characters, although I feel that not aspects of them were as well thought out as the personalities and traits of the Muppet characters. The thing is, if I came to the Muppets Mayhem series for the Muppets, the real life Humans had better be highly entertaining to warrant their presence in the show. I personally think that the Humans were handled quiet well in that respect. I liked when they were on screen and I really liked how they interacted with the Electric Mayhem.
I liked the new Muppet character of Penny Waxman a lot. Not only is she a classic character type, a trope of the heyday of the 60s and 70s Music Industry, but she was also given enough unique quirks to make her memorable. I also really liked her design.
The overall story was quite good, with the subplots given to the individual Mayhem members even stronger in many cases. Getting new reveals and realizations about these characters, some of which are nearly 50 years old, was extremely fun for a long time, die hard Muppets fan like myself.
Finally, it was funny - REALLY FUNNY! Oh man, I found myself laughing out loud so many times throughout the season. The best part about the humor is that it wasn't all from cameos or nostalgia - it was from the context of the narrative and the characters. That is amazing to see in modern pop culture entertainment. Yes, it had Easter Eggs. The series definitely made references to past Muppet works. All of that was simply icing on the cake. The cake definitely had a great flavor all its own.
There really wasn't anything I would deem bad but there were a few things that seemed off and it largely revolved around the Human characters, specifically the lead.
Nora Singh (played by actress Lilly Singh and that's not confusing) is the main Human protagonist, the assistant to Penny Waxman, owner of Wax Town Records. Her major character trait and focus seems to be her love of music, imparted to her by her father. According to references made during the show, including a specific one made by her sister, music has been Nora's life since she was little. This is why she got a job in the Record/Music Industry and why she wants to make a name for herself and Wax Town Records by getting the Electric Mayhem to cut their first album.
OK, cool, I'm on board. Except...the writers are very inconsistent about Nora's relationship with music. In an inverse version of 'Show don't tell', we are repeatedly told that Nora loves classic rock n' roll (especially her dad's favorite song by Joe Cocker) but then gets the words to a famous KISS song incorrect, doesn't seem overly familiar with the Electric Mayhem, their history, inside info about the industry she's in, and has few if any contacts within the music business. I get it, she's young, struggling, an underdog to be sure, but she either knows music or doesn't and it's unclear which of these defining things is true. It repeatedly threw me off and I found it distracting.
Maybe that's just me.
The music! It's actually good and some of it is very good but you don't get to hear many of the songs in their entirety in the episodes. You need to check out The Electric Mayhem - Muppets Mayhem album, available on Spotify as well as for purchase ON VINYL! Vinyl baby!
I am particularly fond of Rock On and Gotta Be.
Man, I am so inspired by this series to do something to honor it with my RPG, The Googly Eyed Primetime Puppet Show. Not sure what yet. Any ideas?
Lips, that's it! You are a genius brother. Thanks.
Hey everybody, one more thing before I split...
Could really use some help and support to keep the creative works coming as well as just get through the Summer months, which can be very tough for me and my business. If you like what I do and can lend a hand, check out my Ko-Fi at https://ko-fi.com/barkingalien
Thanks all. I really appreciate it.