The Pitch: Take a legendary, free-wheeling band, add in a hungry, young music industry employee who loves a detailed plan, and ask them to work together to come up with one last great album — it’s a premise that just works. But, as with most things, it’s that much better when the Muppets are involved.
The Muppets Mayhem centers on The Electric Mayhem Band — Dr. Teeth, Animal, Floyd, Janice, Zoot, and Lips — who have been coasting on vibes their entire career. When music-loving, low-ranking label employee Nora (Lilly Singh) discovers that the band received an advance for an album that was never cut, she makes it her mission to pull a smash record out of the act.
The clock is ticking: Nora’s boss wants to sell Wax Records to an entrepreneurial charmer named JJ (Anders Holm), who also just happens to be Nora’s ex. So to make the album happen, Nora is joined by Mayhem super-fan and budding producer Moog (Tahj Mowry) with the occasional boost from her Gen-Z influencer sister Hannah (Saara Chaudry). Over the course of ten episodes, there’s plenty of room for hijinks, and just as much opportunity for some great music.
The Muppets Mayhem was written and developed by Adam F. Goldberg, Bill Barretta, and Jeff Yorkes, while Goldberg and Barretta executive produce alongside Michael Bostick, Kris Eber, and The Muppets Studio’s David Lightbody and Leigh Slaughter. Per usual, the Muppets performers strive to capture the magic of the Jim Henson era that made these creatures such cultural staples, and the voices behind the Mayhem (Dave Goelz, Matt Vogel, David Rudman, Peter Linz, Bill Barretta, and Eric Jacobson) knock it out of the park.
Count Me In: The Muppets as an entity are beloved for a reason. They’ve been ingrained in pop culture for decades, a seemingly endless well of creativity when it comes to the stories that can be told through their furry lens. Since joining the Disney family in 2004, some of the best stories featuring these characters are the ones that treat them like the superstars they are — think The Muppets (2011). To work with the Muppets is no small thing.
To that end, the cameos in this show are head-spinning — there are appearances from Ryan Seacrest, Chris Stapleton, Lil Nas X, and Tommy Lee all within the first five minutes of the first episode. To list out every familiar face that shows up would take up far too much space here, and some of the best cameos should be kept as a surprise, but Disney certainly pulled out all the stops to make it the star-studded affair The Electric Mayhem deserve.
Even without the frequent bursts of additional star power, The Muppets Mayhem is a totally enjoyable music industry workplace comedy. Nora is a good part for Lilly Singh, who moves through the world established here with the right balance of playfulness and stickler energy her character requires, somewhere between the wide-eyed wonder of Jason Segel in The Muppets and the deadly seriousness of Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol.
Pick Up the Tempo: Admittedly, things do start a little slow here. The first episode sets up the story and its stakes, but the following couple take time to build momentum. As things progress, though, the show starts taking risks and gets a little weirder, in all the best ways: In one sequence, writer’s block sends the gang out to the desert to find inspiration, and the show finds a way to send the characters on a family-friendly equivalent of a mind-altering drug trip. The excellent seventh episode is a dedicated spoof of Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary on The Beatles.
Overall, things are the most interesting when the focus is on the plotline connected to the band, and less fun when digging into some of the side stories for the humans around them. Some of the moments focused on the sister relationship between Nora and Hannah do their best to tug on the heartstrings — but one well-placed flashback to Baby Animal dethrones them in an instant.
The Right Key: Some of the jokes and winking cameos will certainly fly over the heads of younger audiences, and the absence of familiar faces like Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo might make it a tougher sell for kids, but once the show starts to spend more time with each of the band members, it takes off.
But while the Muppets are, now and forever, something that can be enjoyed by absolutely everyone, who exactly is this show for? To each their own, but it’s hard to imagine adults without children or teenagers flipping through Disney+ and deciding to throw this on. If they do, though, they’ll be treated to some excellent music.
Beyond the stellar needle drops and cover songs the band works through periodically, there are a handful of originals that capture the era this band was said to have come up in. Behind the scenes involvement includes touches from Mick Giacchino, son of legendary composer Michael Giacchino, who is also on hand here for the show’s score. Singer-songwriter Linda Perry acts as executive music producer, and excellent curation from music supervisor Kier Lehman hits all the right notes.
The Verdict: The Muppets Mayhem is certainly one of the more fun and compelling creations from The Muppets’ Disney era. (Remember 2021’s Muppets Haunted Mansion? Probably not, because it was that much of a dud.) It’s great to see the studio take a bit of a risk with the wealth of personalities they have at their disposal and step away from some of the more familiar characters; there are endless ways to feature these beloved characters, and a constant appetite for stories that do so in fun, creative ways. Keep it coming, Disney.
Where to Watch: The Muppets Mayhem arrives on Disney+ on May 10th.