Statler: "You know, I don't think this show is suitable for children."
Baby: "I don't think this show is suitable for anybody."
If you're a Muppet fan then you're undoubtedly getting used to a long wait in between releases for The Muppet Show. The second came after an extensive period or almost two years but thankfully the wait for the third was significantly less. Either way patience is a required virtue for lovers of Henson's brainchild and like the previous sets, the wait here was well worth it.
In the previous seasons The Muppet Show was still mostly finding its footing while it tweaked formulas for varying degrees of success. The first year for the Muppets was very successful but there were still aspects about it that didn't "feel" quite right. In the second season the show became somewhat more refined as the crew shifted a bit and they continued to work on material. With both of those fantastic years behind it, the third season of The Muppet Show manages to keep pushing the limits of entertainment.
This show was so revolutionary for its time that even thirty years later it is still just as enjoyable as it was when it aired. The content of the series displays absolutely no signs of aging and because of that this is a collection that should be on everyone's DVD racks. It's so universally entertaining that young, old, and all ages in between can laugh at Fozzie's bad jokes and admire Gonzo's bizarre antics just the same. There are very few shows that can make that claim and this series stands as testament to Henson's genius.
Like the second season, the third hits DVD with four discs and twenty-four episodes of Muppet mayhem. Included here are some outstanding classics in my opinion but all around the cast of guest stars is exemplary. That is not to say the prior two seasons didn't feature a strong group of visitors but there were some very obscure names scattered throughout. Sure this season offers up some celebrities that were only really popular in that specific time period but names like Alice Cooper, Sylvester Stallone, Harry Belafonte, and Raquel Welch more than make up for some lesser known hosts. You can also expect to see Big Bird thanks to a crossover appearance with guest Leslie Uggams.
As with the other seasons and episodes, some hosts always seem to fit in better than others. For whatever reason it just feels like they take better advantage of the insanity that surrounds them. For example Harry Belafonte has a great time in all his numbers such as Day-O (the banana boat song that has Beauregard bringing them every fruit and vegetable under the sun except bananas), a competition on the drums with Animal, and a high note ending of the group number "Turn the World Around". Alice Cooper sings "Welcome to My Nightmare" with his own monsters and tries to get people to sell him their soul. James Coco sings the wonderful inappropriate "Short People" surrounded by vertically challenged Muppets. You can even expect to see a version of Robin Hood performed only the way that the Muppets could in Lynn Redgrave's episode.
Many other episodes in this season truly capture the magic that this show became known for. These episodes arguably brought The Muppet Show towards its height of popularity. After all, what tops Miss Piggy and Raquel Welch singing "I'm a Woman" in matching costumes? Nothing, that's what. You simply don't get television like that nowadays.
While the guest stars certainly do their part, there are many classic skits in this season from the Muppets too. Some gems include an outbreak of "Cluck-itis" that causes everyone, including Kermit, to turn into a chicken, Fozzie going to group therapy to become more aggressive, the theatre getting fumigated so the show moves to a railroad station, and Piggy trying to trick Kermit into marrying her. This season is also the first for the skits "Bear on Patrol" featuring Fozzie as policeman out to "rid the world of evil" and Muppet Sports. More Muppets join the roster of characters as well such as Lew Zealand the boomerang fish thrower, Beauregard the janitor, Camilla the chicken, and Bobby Benson and his Baby Band ("Pennsylvania 65 oh oh oh!"). All priceless.
The quality of The Muppet Show was near its peak during the time period of these episodes. The guest stars were better, the writing was wittier, and all around Henson and company outdid themselves with nearly every episode. Whether you love The Muppet Show or have actually never seen it, this series deserves a place in your collection. It's such a good-natured and brilliant family show that it's every bit as enjoyable now as it was thirty years ago. Place this one on your shopping list and you won't be disappointed.
Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
Lesley Ann Warren
Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
If you've been following the show then you probably have a very good idea going into this third season exactly how the video quality is. For the most part The Muppet Show's third outing looks just as good as the other seasons did. There is still a noticeable amount of grain, plenty of softness, and edge enhancement in the image but overall it's a very decent transfer. Much like the prior DVDs, this season offers some outstandingly bright colors that are certainly more vivid than you'd expect from a show this old. It's hard not to be impressed with this release when you take into consideration just how old the program is and because of that it's safe to say that this transfer breathes new life into the show.
The audio has been remastered into Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (with optional subtitles) and is mostly all front channel material. Just like the image quality, the sound is very good considering the age of the show. Like the other seasons there are some minor volume balancing issues that seem to stem from the original recordings of the show. Some Muppets will be hard to understand and some songs will be louder than others but the quality is very decent otherwise. The audio is clean and crisp with no other noticeable defects and includes English captions for the hearing impared.
Here we are with the third season of The Muppet Show and we have yet to see another installment of the Muppet Morsels which was a very enjoyable feature found in the first release. Even so there are thankfully some other bonus materials that make their way onto this set. The three items that you'll find here offer a glimpse at Muppet material that many have never seen or don't remember.
Rowlf and Baskerville appear in some Purina Dog Chow commercials from the early 60's. The quality of the commercials is relatively low but it was interesting to go back and see a snippet such as this. "Muppets on Puppets" (58:43) is a special that aired in 1970 on National Educational Television. This feature was very cool as it featured some early Muppets explaining the finer points of puppetry. As you'd imagine with the poor quality of the footage and content it can get kind of boring after a while but it's still a nice early look at the Muppets. "A Company of Players" (10:20) was a much briefer glimpse at puppetry but this one featured plenty of behind the scenes glimpses at Henson and friends producing a show. The content felt a tad haphazard and lacked the kind of direction that you usually see in a featurette such as this but it's still a great watch once you're done with the season.
Once again The Muppet Show comes to DVD with 24 entertaining episodes that will please the whole family. There are so many classic skits this time around with some great hosts that this set is a hard package to say no to. Add to that some video quality that restores a very old show and extra features that fans will love to see and you have yet another solid season with Kermit and the gang. Here's looking forward to the fourth season and hopefully it won't be an extensive wait. Highly Recommended
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