You know how excited I’ve been that Disney bought The Muppets. I know some were worried that The Muppets might change, becoming too cutesy, when under Disney’s control, but everything I’ve seen since the purchase leads me to believe that the essential spirit of The Muppets is still intact.
More importantly, in the years leading up to the buyout we saw little from The Muppets. What we did, like their last feature film “Muppets from Space,” wasn’t encouraging. As soon as I heard that Disney now had ownership of my beloved puppet troupe, I knew at the very least we’d be seeing much more of them.
And that we have, between all the stories about their upcoming movie, a greater Muppet presence at the Disney parks, and most importantly (to me), the many fantastic web shorts launched on their YouTube channel. Now Disney’s kicked off their next major Muppets initiative, cooking shorts with celebrity chef Cat Cora.
According to business news website Market Watch, Disney has debuted two new web features: “The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora” and “Hasty Tasty Cooking Tips with Cat Cora and The Muppets.” The former is meant for the enjoyment of the entire family, while the second is specifically focused on giving moms recipes and tips.
At first I didn’t understand the difference: a cooking show is a cooking show, each meant to provide recipes, right? But after watching a couple episodes of both, I saw that “The Muppets Kitchen” does focus more on providing a silly story to get laughs, even though it does contain a recipe, whereas “Hasty Tasty” doles out more specific cooking details and hints.
Each of these 4-5 minute web episodes do feel like more of a Disney production than the shorts provided on the YouTube channel. Part of the difference is they’re hosted on Disney sites, so more interactive features, including additional recipes and print-out craft games, are available. That helps it feel more like a splashy Disney product.
The other reason, unfortunately, is that these shorts just aren’t as funny. I wasn’t expecting the slapstick shenanigans of the Swedish Chef (though I’d love it if he made an appearance or two), but for the first time since Disney brought back The Muppets a short produced under the new regime feels like it came from that, and not from the classic Muppets team.
Although famous Muppets like Gonzo and Fuzzier show up during the shorts, Disney created a brand new Muppet to take up most of the screen time alongside Cat Cora: Angelo. And Angelo just isn’t that funny. He speaks in a silly faux-Italian accent and his fumbling antics are more eye-rolling than chuckle-inducing.
Maybe I’m unconsciously hostile to any new addition to The Muppets family, or maybe I’m just not the intended audience for these shorts. That excuse doesn’t fit, however, because the first is supposed to amuse the whole family and the second is meant specifically for moms, which means adults.
I’m sorry to say that as much as I love both The Muppets and cooking shows, I doubt I’m going to get my culinary advice or foodie entertainment from either series. Perhaps I need to watch more of them and then Angelo will grow on me.
But even though I don’t like these shorts, I’m not that fussed by them or worried about The Muppets’ future. As long as Disney keeps offering excellent entertainment via The Muppets YouTube channel, our favorite puppet antics are still alive and well.