Unlike most of the high-profile trailers shown at this year’s Comic-Con, the footage for ABC’s upcoming Muppets series seems to have avoided getting leaked onto the internet. (Maybe because the thought of stealing from the Muppets is abhorrent, or because everyone was just too busy applauding to get a steady shot.) But now, online audiences can see what this new, “adult” version of The Muppets is about, because ABC has released the 10-minute video, apparently put together as a proof-of-concept to convince the network to go forward with the new series, for the masses to enjoy.
The show’s mockumentary style is apparent from the get-go, with an onscreen logo that’s reminiscent of the U.S. version of The Office, and a lot of jokes at the expense of the now-ubiquitous confession cam. The plot sees Kermit The Frog once again rounding up the old cast for a show, with Miss Piggy the usual hold-out after another bout of romantic strife between the two. (Kermit is dating a younger pig on the show’s staff, while Piggy is apparently involved with her Civil War drama co-star, Topher Grace, gamely seen snogging with felt.)
The show’s new primetime sensibility manifests in a few jokes that are bluer than younger Muppets fans might have come to expect—there are multiple implications, for instance, of Muppet-human copulation—but the real novelty is a level of causticness and self-awareness about the show’s history, and a willingness for the characters to be a little cynical, without losing the essence of who they are. After the Muppets’ charming but exhaustingly upbeat movie revival in 2011, it’s pretty refreshing, and an interesting sign of what’s to come when The Muppets return to TV in September.