Disney+ brought the groove to New York Comic Con Sunday with an exclusive sneak peek at The Muppets Mayhem. The clip in question shows the members of Electric Mayhem (Animal, Dr. Teeth, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, and Lips) unexpectedly moving into the home of aspiring music executive, Nora (Lilly Singh), who has agreed to help the band produce their very first studio album. Series co-creator and co-executive producer Jeff Yorkes described their overall sound as "groovalicious."
"I think Nora's gonna very quickly learn that she's in for a huge handful with the band," Singh told SYFY WIRE during a press roundtable immediately following the panel. "She thinks they're gonna listen, she thinks they're gonna sit down and take instruction, which is not at all what's gonna happen. I think they have their own way of doing things, they don't believe in plans, they're hard to wrangle. And so, you're gonna see her super stressed and trying to act like she has it all together."
The other human members of the cast, whom the puppeteers refer to as "Fleshies," are Saara Chaudry (Nora's social media influencer sister, Hannah), Anders Holm (Nora's ex-boyfriend and current music industry mogul, JJ), and Tahj Mowry (Electric Mayhem super-fan, "Moog").
"I think what makes the Muppets so special is the fact that they're so universal," Chaudry said of the property's multi-generational appeal. "When you look at the Muppets, you don't see color, you don't see gender, you don't see race. You see these beautiful characters who have incredible stories to tell. They're all lovers at heart and they're just kind characters that have so much to offer."
"There is something about the Muppets that brings you in," echoed Anders. "When you interact with them, it brings them to life in a way that, when you're a kid and you see adults talking to them, it kind of flips a switch in your brain where you're like, 'Wait, are they real?' Because you're watching adults, who you trust, talk to these puppets like you talk to your [stuffed animals]. It gives a life to them and it marks them for you as this other thing. It's not a cartoon, it's not a puppet, it's a Muppet."
To help him keep the "energy" of Moog in between scenes, Mowry decorated his trailer wall with all sorts of rock 'n' roll posters and stickers. It also helped that his costumes always incorporated a piece of Electric Mayhem merchandise. "One of the best things about him is his wardrobe," the actor said. "He obviously has been to so many shows, so he gets to have the coolest band tees ever and I got to take some home..."
At the panel, Yorkes and his fellow co-creators (showrunner Adam F. Goldberg and longtime Dr. Teeth performer, Bill Barretta) were asked about why they felt the need to build a spinoff based around this specific group of quirky characters. "I've always loved this band," admitted Yorkes. "I love their music, I love that they were a bunch of misfits who fit together, and nothing had really been done with them in their own sort of way."
"We had done a concert for the first time in 2016 at Outside Lands," added Barretta. "We had so much fun and there was such a [strong] response, that we thought, 'We really need to do more with these guys,' because a lot of their backstories haven't really been developed at all ... We got to write all of these episodes ahead of production, so we were able to plot out this big, long movie with all the arcs of each character — human or Muppet. We have these great backstories that unfold over time, so don't expect it all to be jammed upfront. You're gonna enjoy the whole ride of it."
The concept of an Electric Mayhem album is not just some nebulous MacGuffin driving the narrative, but an actual collection of original songs — several of which were written in tandem with Linda Perry. "It's like a musical in a lot of ways," noted Goldberg, referring to the show's mixture of never-before-heard music and covers of old classics. "A lot of the point of the season is, 'If Mayhem's making an album today, what would their sound be? Is it the original sound? Is it gonna be influenced by absurd modern music?'" he elaborated in the press room. "Do they need to be updated?"
And, of course, it wouldn't be a true Muppets joint without some major celebrity cameos. "We have lots of music cameos," teased Goldberg. "In order to get them, you had to write a scene because they wouldn't read anything. It'd be like, 'Hey, Sting has one day free.' Now we're spending a day writing a scene for Sting and by the time we hand it in, they're like, 'Oh, Sting is on tour now.' Jeff and I probably wrote over 100 scenes for your favorite music celebrities that were not available. So that was really hard."
While the team remained pretty light-tipped about the guest stars, Barretta did let slip that Cheech and Chong do show up and get totally freaked out by "a surreal side to Zoot that you are gonna love. It is so weird that, in a sense, it's our fourth wall, but it plays within the reality of the world."
The Muppets Mayhem is expected to premiere on Disney+ in 2023.
Click here for all of SYFY WIRE's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022.
Looking for more puppet mayhem? Six of the Puppet Master films are currently streaming on Peacock.