Imagine a world not not too far removed from “Sesame Street” where puppets and humans lived together in perfect harmony. Tonight, Fox presents “Greg the Bunny,” a glimpse into the lives of humans living and working side by side with puppets.
Greg (Dan Milano) lives as a fabricated American with his friend Jimmy Bender (Seth Green, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Austin Powers,”) who works as a pool man. Greg is unemployed so he asks his roommate to put in a good word for him with his kid show directing dad Gil Bender (Eugene Levy, “American Pie”). The show, named “Sweetknuckle Junction,” employs Rochester the Bunny as the lead puppet with human Junction Jack (Bob Gunton, “61”) and fellow puppet Count Blah (Dan Massey, “Muppets from Space”). There is tension on the set and the network executives put pressure on Bender to put out a fresh show. The drug and alcohol- addicted Rochester becomes too much on the set and management decides to replace him. Greg goes to the studio in search of Jimmy’s father for a clerk job and ends up earning the starring role in the kiddie show.
The puppets are created by Dan Milano, Spencer Chinoy and Sean Baker. They are knock-offs from Jim Henson’s Muppets and look as such. Count Blah plays off of Sesame Street’s Count and even Greg is an imitation of a Henson bunny, down to the same colored fur. They even manufacture a clone that looks like Kermit the Frog, except this one eats crayons. At times the duplicate puppets make fun of themselves but the jokes get old rather quickly.
The parallels between network executives and child actors give the show an edge that makes it suitable for its later timeslot. Management calls for Rochester’s firing because they are losing their demographics with his thinning fur. This is a clever commentary about how the networks place pressure on their stars to look a certain way, even on a pre-school program. The use of puppets is a good way for the show to hide its messages in the comedy and ridiculous world they constructed.
“Greg the Bunny” is very funny overall. The scenes move fast and the dialogue is quick. From a hostile washed-up bunny to Seth Green acting as his delightfully sarcastic self, the show gets better as it goes along. The entire ensemble plays off each other well and it is hard to designate a main star other than Greg the Bunny. Both Seth Green and Dan Milano perform vital roles to compliment the comedy. As the characters’ personalities are revealed, they end up becoming even more human than the human characters.