Not that the Muppets are strangers to innuendo. Charles Grodin’s lust for Miss Piggy, in “The Great Muppet Caper,” is legitimately steamy—though it’s never implied that they actually have sex. What the new show misjudges isn’t some kind of moral standard but what makes the Muppets funny in the first place. They exist in the rude, recognizable world of adult humans but are too innocent to notice. It’s funny, in a cheap way, to joke about Zoot being in Alcoholics Anonymous. (“It’s not that kind of meeting,” he’s told in the pilot.) But it’s a lot funnier when Fozzie, at a London nightspot in “The Great Muppet Caper,” says of his champagne, “You know, if you put enough sugar in this stuff, it tastes just like ginger ale!” Maybe that’s the recipe for Muppets humor: take champagne and add sugar. Not salt. [emphasis mine]
It’s a testament to Jim Henson and Frank Oz that the Muppets sensibility has been so tricky to get right without them.