ABC has ordered three more episodes of its freshman comedy series The Muppets despite tepid ratings following a strong debut. Featuring the classic characters created by Jim Henson, the series opts for a mockumentary style of storytelling in the vein of The Office and Parks and Recreation. Playing with more adult humour than the famous puppets are usually known for, the series has earned rave reviews but lost a large portion of its audience following the premiere episode. Eventually, it evened out.
ABC had always intended to keep the series’ seasons short, so the network’s failure to issue the series a more substantive episode order shouldn’t necessarily spell bad things for the fledgling series. Developed by five-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory, Dharma and Greg) and two-time Primetime Emmy nominee Bob Kushell (3rd Rock From the Sun, Anger Management), the series is the latest in a recent renaissance for the classic characters, following two recent motion picture revivals.
The Muppets stars two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee Steve Whitmire (Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal), Eric Jacobson (Scooby Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map, Lady Gaga and the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular), Primetime Emmy Award winner Dave Goelz (Inside Out, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie), Bill Barretta (Muppets from Space, The Muppets: Most Wanted), David Rudman (The Muppets Take Manhatten, A Muppet Family Christmas), Matt Vogel (Old Dogs, The Muppets) and Peter Linz (Elmo’s World: What Makes You Happy?, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa).
Over on Fox, the network’s midseason Frankenstein drama Lookinglass was pre-emptively struck with an episode reduction before it’s even begun airing. The programme, which follows a 75-year-old sheriff who is revived in the body of a younger man after he is killed in a robbery, had previously been slated to air a 13-episode first season next year, but now that number will be 11.
Developed by Primetime Emmy Award winner Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Elementary), the show is the latest in a surprisingly long line of new television shows to receive episode reductions this season, though it is the first to get one before even airing. It’s an unusual pattern that hasn’t really been present in previous network television seasons and it’s interesting to wonder why.
Perhaps networks want to give shows a chance to end on their own terms rather than being yanked off the air without a final episode. This early on in the season, it’s certainly feasible that a show could quickly cobble a finale and let’s be honest: that’s what these episode reductions seem to indicate. The final episode of the season will also be the final episode of the series.
Lookinglass stars Rob Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, EastEnders), Adhir Kalyan (Up in the Air, Rules of Engagement), Dilshad Vadsaria (30 Minutes or Less, Revenge), Tim DeKay (White Collar, Swordfish) and Ciara Bravo (Red Band Society, Open Season 3) and is scheduled to premiere in 2016.