“If it ain’t broke don’t repair it” has lengthy been The Jim Henson Firm’s modus operandi, and the second season of Apple TV+ youngsters present Helpsters resides proof that the technique works.
The academic present, created by Odd Squad and Journey Time author Timothy McKeon, with music by longtime collaborator Paul Buckley, is lengthy on attraction and star energy and quick on filler.
Season two of Helpsters, which arrived on Apple TV+ Friday, is probably going precisely what your youngsters want when you lastly get round to doing the laundry. And also you’ll giggle, too, on the litany of visitor stars and the occasional elegant joke.
Helpsters season 2 evaluation
I jumped aboard Cult of Mac simply in time to overlook the boat in reviewing plenty of the Apple TV+ youngsters’s exhibits. I narrowly missed the premiere dates of the Zoom-style Fraggle Rock revamp, the cartoon sequence Snoopy in House, and the primary seasons of Ghostwriter and Helpsters.
That was a little bit little bit of a disgrace, as a result of I’m a longtime fan of the work of Jim Henson and his studio of puppeteer acolytes. The unique Muppet Present and Fraggle Rock, and naturally motion pictures like The Darkish Crystal and Labyrinth, are enjoyable. However greater than that, they’re singular works of American artwork, combining the lovably shameless vaudeville custom with a type of mythic storytelling that runs by means of Henson’s heat Americana.
It’s laborious to not think about that he’d approve of Helpsters, a present so chipper that it’s tough to do something however give up to its charms. The present follows 4 monsters (all lovely Henson store puppets) who love to assist the folks of their neighborhood.
Within the second season, the oldsters who come to the Helpsters — needing assist with every thing from instructions to a small-business plan — embody folks like Gabby Douglas to legendary motion star Danny Trejo. (The episode Trejo seems in will not be merely a standout Helpsters episode. It’s one of many most interesting bits of tv in all of 2020.)
It’s a zany present, and it’s additionally relentlessly good-natured. And it appears designed to show youngsters to be affected person and inspiring with one another’s concepts and shortcomings.
Visitor star report
The humorous factor about watching youngsters exhibits in 2020, at a time when irony’s totally crumbled the partitions between a stunt and an earnest declaration of admiration for somebody’s work, is imagining who producers suppose youngsters and oldsters alike will get pleasure from watching.
For Helpsters, the visitor stars run the gamut from the lately canceled likes of Talib Kweli and Terry Crews, who put in respectable appearances. (Crews is as stellar a youngsters entertainer as he’s a dreadful social media presence.)
However the cameos additionally embody the “bear in mind me?” MOR stylings of Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz. Comedians Michelle Buteau and Moujan Zolfaghari, in addition to different of-the-moment names like Larry Owens and Greta Lee, all make enjoyable and humorous showings for themselves.
The actual memorable ones are the left-field appearances like Trejo as Cookie Cornelius(!), a person who loves two issues: denim jackets and cookies. His episode bursts with joie de vivre, and a late-episode look by his buddy Dancer Damien (performed by none aside from legendary dancer Savion Glover) places the proper button on the phase. That’s the type of dedicated absurdity I would like from youngsters TV.
One thing for the entire household
John Lutz and Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock each put in marvelous turns as neighborhood retailers. And Chris Meloni, a person constructed for drama however born for comedy, exhibits up as a detective who isn’t superb on the sport Pictionary. Display screen gem Michael McKean even performs a short function as a motorcycle store proprietor. And Michael Ian Black performs a sailor as hammily as you count on from him.
With marvelous puppet designs, and cute however not cloying performances from the puppet and human solid, Helpsters may be very a lot of a chunk with Sesame Road, that different Henson staple. However Helpsters is by itself wavelength simply sufficient to distinguish itself. If I’ve one grievance, it’s that the present solely appears to have 4 songs. They do get outdated after seven episodes.
Helpsters on Apple TV+
Watch on: Apple TV+ (subscription required)
Scout Tafoya is a movie and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay sequence The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Movie Remark, The Los Angeles Assessment of Books and Nylon Journal. He’s the director of 25 function movies, and the writer of greater than 300 video essays, which may be discovered at Patreon.com/honorszombie.