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The Muppets had a huge premiere this fall, but hasn’t been pulling in such big numbers in the weeks following its premiere. While it hasn’t been so unpopular that ABC would seek to cancel it immediately, ABC President Paul Lee did say this week that the freshman comedy has been a disappointment. At the TCA winter press tour, he explained why he feels the show hasn’t worked so far:
The show itself didn’t quite feel it had the joy and the laughter and the heart that it should have.
It’s not very often that a network will express disappointment about a show that is still currently on the air and still currently doing decent numbers for the channel. But the above quote show’s Lee’s determination to be honest about The Muppets and to be clear that the direction of the show will be changing in the future. At the TCA tour, Lee also said he had “high, high hopes” for The Muppets when it returns this winter. As noted by Variety, Lee has seen the five upcoming scripts for the newcomer comedy and seems to like the new amalgamation a whole lot more.
If you aren’t familiar with what is going on with The Muppets, ABC hasn’t been as excited about the show since the reviews came in. A couple of months after the comedy first hit the schedule, we learned showrunner Bob Kushnell would be leaving, following some problems in the development process of the show, which he co-created with The Big Bang Theory’s Bill Prady. At the time, Kristin Newman was signed on to take over the series as showrunner and ABC even openly announced that The Muppets would go through a creative overhaul at the time. If the show is making that many changes, there needs to be a reason why, and Paul Lee’s comments this week offer a more vivid description regarding why The Muppets is getting reworked.
Prior to the fall premiere, the word “more adult” was bandied about quite frequently in relation to The Muppets. Before we got the weird press related to Kermit and Miss Piggy’s break-up and before we even actually saw episodes of the show, the “more adult” aspect seemed to harken back to The Muppets’ heyday on network TV. Over the last couple of decades, The Muppets have become a more family-friendly property with kids and families as the majority of the audience. With that in mind, it’s been clear that these new grown-up Muppets have turned some potential audiences off. You know you have a problem if Dave Grohl and Nathan Fillion aren’t helping the show attract new viewers.
ABC has signed on for 16 episodes of The Muppets during Season 1. The episodes that are left will all be retooled versions of the original series. Only time will tell if the comedy will be able to pick up some additional audience members--maybe even some who dropped the show--and help the series to avoid getting cancelled at the end of the season. If you want to give the show a shot, you can catch new episodes of The Muppets starting on Tuesday, February 2 at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, here’s when other winter TV programs will premiere.