Disney’s stewardship of the Muppets yields a pretty flat set with “The Muppets Mayhem,” which milks the idea of the Electric Mayhem Band recording their first studio album for more than it’s worth. A horde of celebrity cameos provide occasional pop along the way, but beyond Muppets completists the 10-episode series provides a little too much reason to sound like Statler and Waldorf.
The deft balance that defined “The Muppets Movie” back in 2011 is mostly lacking in this Disney+ show from “The Goldbergs” producer Adam F. Goldberg, in part because the human characters and ongoing story built around them fall short. That begins with former NBC later-night host Lilly Singh as Nora, the aspiring record executive who realizes that the band owes her label an album that was never delivered, prodding them to veer off the road and into the studio.
The show then proceeds to set up a rather tedious triangle involving Nora (with whom Animal is also instantly smitten), who is caught between an Electric Mayhem fan (Tahj Mowry) who loves the group and an oily record executive (Anders Holm).
Deriving the episode subtitles from various songs (a device also employed by “Daisy Jones & the Six”), “Muppets Mayhem” certainly doesn’t scrimp on celebrity appearances or playful flourishes, from employing animation to an extensive flashback showing why vocalist Dr. Teeth (who objects to the designation “front man”) didn’t go into the family business.
The number of stars who fleetingly participate underscores just how much built-in goodwill still resides within the Muppets name. When there are plans within the show for an Electric Mayhem documentary to boost album sales, directors Kevin Smith and Peter Jackson (after his ode to the Beatles) drop by.
All the gags about rock stars being impulsive and eccentric, however, feel like one long inside joke, and the situations involving Nora – when she isn’t wrangling her uncooperative stars – are for the most part as cartoonish as the antics of Dr. Teeth, Animal, Lips, Janice, Floyd Pepper, and Zoot.
Hungry for streaming content, Disney (which has owned the Muppets since 2004) has tried various wrinkles to keep rekindling the franchise following the aforementioned movie and its sequel, with a “The Office”-like series for ABC, and “Muppets Now” and the special “Muppets Haunted Mansion” in 2020 and 2021, respectively, both for Disney+.
“Muppets Mayhem” is an inoffensive addition to that library, but in terms of hitting memorable creative beats, its “Electric” characters don’t come close to catching lightning in a bottle.
“The Muppets Mayhem” premieres March 10 on Disney+.