EW has provided a first look at “The Muppets Mayhem,” a new Disney+ series focusing on Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
“The Muppets Mayhem” is co-created by Bill Barretta, Jeff Yorkes, and Adam F. Goldberg. It stars Lilly Singh as Nora, an aspiring record producer who is helping Electric Mayhem record their first album. Nora has help from her social media influencer sister, Hannah (Saara Chaudry), and Electric Mayhem fan, Gary “Moog” Moogowski (Tahj Mowry).
“To us, this is an IP that’s as big as Star Wars or Marvel,” Goldberg told EW. “I mean, they have Kermit.”
Barretta cited his inspiration for the series as the 2016 Outside Lands music festival when Electric Mayhem played a set.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was … one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had with the Muppets. There was something like 30,000 people that came to the park. I thought, ‘Well, there’s something there.’ What if this band went on the road? What if the band went on tour? And so, I started developing an idea for a show about the band because we don’t know that much about them.”
Coincidentally, Goldberg and Yorkes had already been thinking about an Electric Mayhem-focused series for eight years.
“Jeff conceived the whole thing,” Goldberg said. “He’s an editor, so he cut a whole sizzle reel to convince me to get on board. And then that was the sizzle we used to actually sell this thing.”
The team wanted to delve deeper into Muppets characters that we don’t know as much about.
“This is just about the band specifically,” Goldberg said. “We don’t have that deep bench of characters like when you do ‘The Wizard of Oz’ or ‘Treasure Island’ or ‘A Christmas Carol.’ You could tell this giant story with the hundreds of characters that they have. We’re telling a very small story about this band and where they’ve been and where they’re going. It is about the band and not the tone of a variety show.”
Yorkes added, “We have the freedom to go anywhere with these characters — they’re not as well known as the core characters. People recognize them, but we have the freedom to fill out their backstory and do whatever we want.”
Yorkes said of the band and their story, “They get along better than Fleetwood Mac. But they’re definitely from a different era. The conceit of the show is bringing this old-school band to the modern age and way of making music. That’s the comedy of it. They’re a group of characters that have no real goals or ambitions. Whatever you want to do, they roll with it. So, when you have a character that’s really determined to get them to do something, that’s also the comedy of the show. It’s Type A wrestling with Type, I would even say, C.”
“They want to remain true to themselves, but they don’t want to leave anybody out,” Barretta said. “How do you find that balance? That’s every musician or artist’s struggle — they would love everybody to love them. What’s fun about this band is we like to take the creative approach that they can play just about anything. That allows us to dip ourselves into different types of music and be silly and have fun with it.”
The series will have ten episodes and be packed full of music. According to Goldberg, the first five episodes will mostly feature covers of classic rock, but the band will eventually debut original songs.
EW notes that while there will be lots of cameos, other Muppets may not appear.
“We are telling a regular story in the real world with Muppets,” Goldberg said. “So we tried to ground everything and keep it realistic as opposed to all of a sudden there’s talking fruit in your fridge.”
“We’ve found a real balance,” Barreta said. “It’s not Muppet-heavy and it’s not human-heavy, which is a difficult thing to do with the Muppets. You want to keep everybody interested. The Muppets have fun little beats and punchlines and good comedy and sight gags, but the storytelling [is key]. What’s really helped is to have some humans who are truly connected and have real conflict with them — conflicts that they experience together and separately and with each other.”
Regarding her casting as one of the few people of color to star alongside the Muppets, Singh said, “Everyone has a memory of seeing the Muppets for the first time. Everyone has a love story with the Muppets. I had never seen myself in those stories. I know other people probably don’t see themselves. I really wanted this role so that it could look different.”
The relationship between Singh’s Nora and Chaudry’s Hannah is a “key ingredient” to “The Muppets Mayhem,” Chaudry said. “Nora and Hannah go through a lot together. They grow as people, but as sisters as well.”
A release date for “The Muppets Mayhem” has not been announced.
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