The Muppet Show – Season One

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle
Jerry Nelson as Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Robin the Frog , Crazy Harry , Dr. Julius Strangepork
Richard Hunt as Scooter , Statler, Sweetums
Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo , Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot the Sax Player
Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog , Waldorf , Rowlf , Swedish Chef , Dr. Teeth

Special Features:
All 24 episodes from the 1976 season completely restored and remastered

The original pilot, “Sex and Violence!”

The original pitch reel of the show

Muppet morsels viewing mode with fun facts about the Muppets

Promo gag reel

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital Sound
Running Time: 604 Minutes

Synopsis:
The first season of The Muppet Show originally aired in 1976. The following is from the DVD cover:

“It’s time to raise the curtain on The Muppet Show! Join Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Swedish Chef and more, in the complete first season of this groundbreaking twist on the classic Variety Show. Included are all 24 episodes, completely restored and remastered, plus two never-before-seen episodes, bonus features, and something you were never meant to see: Jim Henson’s original “pitch reel” that propelled the Muppets’ blend of original songs, sketch comedy and guest stars into a primetime hit for all ages! Come discover for yourself the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational pleasures of The Muppet Show: Season One!”

The Muppet Show – Season One is not rated.

The Series:
As a kid, I used to watch The Muppet Show religiously. I remember racing in from playing outside just to see it when it came on. The skits were great, the puppets were funny, and the music was ‘Muppetational’. So when this DVD arrived for reviewing, I was excited to revisit The Muppet Show. Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged all that well. I didn’t find it nearly as appealing as I did when I was a kid. Many of the costumes and jokes show their age and a lot of the music is flat out boring. That being said, though, when it was funny, it was really funny. The show features humor that kids can enjoy and humor that adults can also enjoy. I find that I appreciate some of the jokes a lot more now than I did as a kid.

The true test for the Muppet Show for me was to see if my kids enjoyed it. I put them down in front of the TV and played the DVDs. I found that they would watch about 5 or 10 minutes, then get bored and wander off. I took this to mean that they weren’t interested in it, but they have requested to watch The Muppet Show over and over. They also still insist that they like it despite the fact that they still wander off during repeat viewings. So it seems to be moderately successful in entertaining today’s kids.

One of the highlights of The Muppet Show was the wide variety of guest stars that it featured. Some of them are immediately recognizable while others have faded into obscurity. The more notable ones in this season include Rita Moreno, Jim Nabors, Florence Henderson, Harvey Korman, Lena Horne, Peter Ustinov, Sandy Duncan, Candice Bergen, Ben Vereen, Phyllis Diller, Vincent Price, Valerie Harper, Ethel Merman, and Twiggy. Others that have faded in popularity include Mummenschanz, Kaye Ballard, Avery Schreiber, Juliet Prowse, Bruce Forsyth, and others.

Though this is the first season of the Muppet Show, they seem to have nailed their show formula right off the bat. The opening is more or less the same, the format of the skits follow those of later shows, and many of the main characters were already in place with their trademark personalities. However, there are a few notable exceptions. For example, Miss Piggy has a different voice for a number of the episodes and different eyes as well.

If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia or if you’re just a big Muppets fan, then I think you’ll find this DVD worth checking out. The Muppet Show is also entertaining for some kids, so that also makes it worth viewing.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on the DVD. Unfortunately, there are no interviews or retrospectives with the puppeteers:

The original pilot – This original pilot is a bit different from the final version of the show. For example, Kermit doesn’t lead the cast. There’s some other unknown character with that duty. Statler and Waldorf are also lethargic old men rather than the heckling grouches we know and love. Even more notable is the distinctly adult humor as the show starts out by discussing “Sex and Violence”. At the same time a few of the show’s trademarks like the ballroom skit, artistic numbers, and key characters like Waldorf appear. All in all it’s an interesting look into the evolution of The Muppet Show.

The original pitch reel of the show – This is a brief but funny reel that Jim Henson and his partners put together to pitch the Muppet Show to TV executives. It starts out being a little bland and then gets more and more insane as it progresses. You can see even at an early stage that these guys had a twisted sense of humor.

Muppet morsels viewing mode with fun facts about the Muppets – This is pretty much what the title sounds like. It’s pop-up trivia that goes along with the episodes.

Promo gag reel – These are a few of the promotional commercials used to hype upcoming shows. They featured original gags so they are important for any Muppet completist.

The Bottom Line:
The Muppet Show hasn’t aged well in some places, but the nostalgia for the characters, the great sense of humor, and the parade of guest stars make it entertaining for kids and adults.

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