REVIEW: Ned To Earth
Hitting Disney+ on Friday were all ten episodes of the Jim Henson Company's newest addition Ned To Earth. The show revolves around Ned (Paul Rugg) who is sent to Earth to invade and conquer the planet, but he becomes quite smitten with Earth's celebrity culture and decides to host his own talk show. He is joined by this sidekick Cornelius (Michael Oosterom), his online artificial intelligence B.E.T.I. (Colleen Smith) and this alien race called the CLODS (or Cloned Living Organism of Destruction).
I really didn't know what to think of this series, at first, but by the end, I was by and large on its side. The show brought a delightful assortment of celebrities, mostly on the B to D list, but recognizable enough. I think the show did its self a little disservice by starting with the Andy Richter and Gillian Jacobs episode, both of whom seemed a little uncomfortable with Ned. Like they were pretending to be on an episode of Sesame Street, which would be fine, but this is not Sesame Street. The series is at its best when the guests seem relaxed and not trying to be funny and when Ned strikes a chemistry with them. And, thankfully, he was almost always on.
In all honesty, my favorite guests were Nene Leakes and RuPaul who felt like they were doing interviews for a family friendly episode Watch What Happens Now. In other words, they seemed the most like themselves. And, of course, I can't forget the legendary Billy Dee Williams, aka Lando Calrissian from the Star Wars franchise, who stumbled at times, but...hello? He's Lando FREAKIN' Calrissian. There were others like Rachel Bloom, Kristen Schaal and Gina Carano who I also enjoyed.
I was really taken by the puppetry of Ned in particular who's fluid movements lulled me into a comfortable place. His arms and his wonderful expressions just made me laugh. I also enjoyed the side characters, even the CLODs who I thought I would find annoying (and, at times, they were). Their reenactments of musicals like Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hamilton were hilarious. And I enjoyed Cornelius' "man-on-the-street" segments where he learned more about the day's topic. Although, the appearance by Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series seemed a little too much like Disney synergy at work.
Apologies to my bingeaholic friends, but I wish that Ned To Earth came out weekly rather than be released all at once. I'd love to have savored the series a bit more. But, given the bumpiness of the first episode, I might not have returned for episode 2. Oh, who am I kidding? I watch everything. So, maybe the average viewer might feel that way.
If you were disappointed by Muppets Now, consider giving Ned To Earth a chance. It honestly made me think more about The Muppet Show than Muppets Now. It's not perfect, but it's definitely fun once you get into it.