If you thought “Game of Thrones” was the star at Comic-Con, think again. “The Muppets” panel in San Diego on Saturday kicked off with a full house of cheers — louder than the room for “The Walking Dead” — and wrapped with a standing ovation.
Co-creator Bill Prady made his second Con appearance of 2015, following Friday’s panel for “The Big Bang Theory,” introducing the crowd to the first surprise of the hour — a 10-minute short, which he and his team pitched to the network to get “The Muppets” on the air this fall.
If the reaction from the room was any indication, it’s easy to see why ABC picked up the comedy.
Prady was joined by exec producers Bob Kushell, Randall Einhorn and Bill Barretta, who pulls double duty as a “muppeteer” on the show, voicing Pepe and Rowlf the Dog, along with panelists Steve Whitmire (who voices Kermit), Dave Goelz (Gonzo and Rizzo) and Eric Jacobson (Miss Piggy and Fozzie).
ABC’s mockumentary-style series will follow the furry friends, shedding light on their personal lives and relationships, with some more adult flair than ever seen before.
“The trick of the show, if it works, is to make it feel for the first time that you’re seeing the Muppets in our world. There’s no barrier in the world that they’re in and the world that we’re in,” Prady said. “There’s a whole aspect of their personal lives that we don’t know and we’re trying to construct personal lives for them that match the stuff that we do know.”
The show will revolve around Miss Piggy, who hosts her own latenight talk show — which will, of course, run exclusively behind Jimmy Kimmel, Kushell pointed out. Kermit, who’s now broken up from Miss Piggy and is dating the head of marketing at the network (another pig named Denise), will serve as the exec producer on the show, while the other Muppets will have roles such as writers and editors. The Swedish Chef is in charge of craft services on set and Rowlf the Dog owns the bar across the street from the studio, named Rowlf’s Tavern.
“He does have a thing for pigs, apparently,” Prady said of Kermit’s newfound lady love, whose puppet is currently being built as the show goes into production later this summer. Pray added that the new series is “about the intrigue that happens behind the scenes, but also at home and their emotional and personal lives.”
The panelists talked about the challenges of bringing the Muppets back to television. “Teaching Kermit to drive was a challenge within itself,” quipped Goelz. Pray said mixing people and puppets together is difficult, in terms of navigating the set, while Jacobson pointed out the strenuous weight of the puppets. Referring to carrying Miss Piggy, he admitted, “She’s not exactly light.”
The characters will also come across some challenges. For instance, Gonzo tries online dating. “I don’t think it says species,” Prady joked of online dating profiles.
As for “The Muppets'” reaction to their very first Comic-Con? “It’s a little dangerous. We’re quite small,” said Kermit.