The Muppet Show, Season 2 review by Drunky

Ahhh 1976. America’s bicentennial and a year that gave birth to several American treasures: Rocky, electing goofballs as U.S. Presidents, and your least-favorite Jackasscritic - yours truly. And despite the fact that all of the above have long-outlived their virtues, they are all still hanging around. But 1976 was also the birth year of another American treasure which seems due for another revival: The Muppet Show.

Some of my earliest memories are of watching The Muppet Show regularly with my parents. I was a big fan as a child and I was curious to see what kind of viewing experience the show could offer to a soul that has enjoyed 31 years of refinement (or perhaps more accurately: endured 31 years of cynical hardening). It had been at least twenty years since I’ve seen an episode. I knew that the show was intended after all to be enjoyed by young and old alike. This was the vision of late creator Jim Henson, previously the puppeteer of Sesame Street. Tempering my anticipation was a tinge of apprehension. Would I be disappointed and thereby taint a memory that is so fond and pure?

The memories are intact friends: the show is even better than I remember.

Remember these guys?

The premise of The Muppet Show is a theater variety show, mixing on-stage performances with sitcom-style back-stage happenings. Kermit the Frog is in charge and the host of the theater show. Fozzie Bear doubles as Kermit’s right-hand man and a bad stand-up comedian. Miss Piggy is your standard Prima Donna, often vying for Kermit’s affections. Scooter is a production assistant. Gonzo (the Great) provides and performs odd variety acts. The list of characters goes on and on. Each episode sports a different celebrity guest star, who generally ham it up with the Muppets backstage as well as perform some on-stage acts. The Season Two episodes - 24 in all - are highlighted by personalities such as Don Knotts, Elton John and Steve Martin.

You’ll find plenty of varied musical numbers, some recurring sketches (Pigs in Space, Veterinarian’s Hospital), and the old guys in the balcony will always be there to rip on an act when necessary. The comedy takes different forms: witty, slapstick, and some self-aware corniness. It goes without saying that the puppetry is excellent (special props to Sam the Eagle performed by Frank Oz). It’s a smart, well-executed formula that won the show multiple Emmy awards during its five year run. The show ended when Jim Henson aspired to move his efforts into movies.

There are a few special features as part of this Season Two package. The most enjoyable is “Muppets on Muppets” which seems to be a recent production where various Muppets get interviewed and appear to be improvising their responses. Funny stuff.

Can you guess which one of these characters has a human hand up their butt?

The Muppet Show is unlike anything else on television. You’ll find a lot of shows that are Seinfeld-esque for example. But watching an episode of The Muppet Show is a viewing experience you can’t get anywhere else, I presume since few would dare to try to do it better, and they know the public would reject an inferior substitute.

As a final testimonial, even the wife joined me for a few episodes (who never watched the show as a youth). I expected to get some good-natured eye-rolling as she would presume this manchild was once again indulging himself in silliness. But something magical happened: not only could I tell she was in fact enjoying the show…she actually admitted it.

9 out of 10 Jackasses
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