From its beginnings in Sesame Street, the Muppet Show thrived for 5 years and
120 episodes and became one of the most popular and enduring television franchises
of all time. I remember watching the show as a child and I still carry a love
for it, so imagine my surprise when Time Life announced that they were to release
3 episodes on DVD every month. Now, with over a year behind them, Time Life is
up to volume 15 on the set and still going strong.
Something about the Muppets entranced a nation, perhaps even more than Sesame
Street. Adults and children alike enjoyed the show and most of that was likely
due to the high-profile guests that frequented the show. Jim Henson and his
crew attracted stars like Elton John, Vincent Price, Orson Welles, Roger Moore,
and others in their 5-year run. Everyone wanted to work with the Muppets and
that feeling is still around today.
Several years ago an ill-fated revival attracted the likes of Garth Brooks
and Sandra Bullock. Their multiple movies also attract similar stars and it's
a trend that will likely continue. Thanks to Time Life, parents that remember
the show can now introduce it to their own children and enjoy it once again.
The following episodes are on disc 11:
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans: The King and Queen of the cowboys
make a beautiful appearance on the show and perform several songs. First up
is Blue Skies with a herd (is that right) of Prairie Dogs and then it's
Roy singing "Skyball Paint" with a hilarious looking horse with flame
red eyes. Muppet sports does a skit with horseshoe pitching and then Dale sings
"Deep in the Heart of Texas" featuring a group of scary looking singing
cabbage patch babies. Up next us a skit previously only aired in the UK with
two cowboys sing an ode to their horses. Fozzie does an episode of Bear on Patrol
with a Western theme and Roy and Dale return together for a medley of "Hazy
Mountain," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," and "Happy Trails."
It's a perfect Western themed episode with a great pair of guests that
seem as young as ever.
Kenny Rogers: This episode features a great version of the
Gambler and the classic Muppet song, Lime in the Coconut. Here are the skits
that are in this episode. Things start off badly as Kermit falls off trapeze
and goes to a witch doctor for treatment. This leads to the great song "Lime
in the Coconut" and it's quite a production. Scooter's uncle
is drilling for oil in Kenny's room this is followed by the Muppet news flash
man in a classic skit about a toaster. Kenny does an almost haunting rendition
of "The Gambler" with life-size Muppet men. Fozzie's mom makes
an appearance in the UK only pub song sequence. Kermit is moved to Vet's Hospital
for treatment and gets hurt again. Gonzo tries another stunt that leads to Kermit
getting hurt again. To restore order, Kenny returns to sing, "Love Lifted
Me" for a great finale.
Mac Davis: I honestly don't remember this episode at
all, but country-western singer Mac Davis is the guest for this show. With a
country voice and a Tom Jones / Mike Brady look, Piggy falls head-over-heels
for him. The Muppet labs skit featuring a copying machine has hilarious results
as Bunsen's copying machine makes several clones of his assistant Beaker.
The UK skit of Rowlf playing a Bach song once again shows how the show could
be high-culture and entertaining at the same time. Mac return's to sing
"It's Hard to Be Humble" with Link and the Swedish chef tries to
make soup only to be interrupted by the Beaker clones. Fozzie's Bear on
Patrol tries to deal with the eight Beakers running around and everything is
wrapped up nicely in the final where Mac sings "I Believe in Music".
Video: Time has produced a great disc that presents the material
in its original 4:3 aspect ratio with few problems. The video looks slightly
aged, but the colors and contrast are sharp and bright. There are no real flaws
in the transfer and overall the video is clean and has only a few spots of grain
and pattern that were likely on the original source.
Audio: A nice stereo mix is all that is available. While a
re-mastered Dolby track would have been nice, the stereo mix works fine. It's
a well-balanced mix that sounds great on the vocals and music numbers.
Extras: Each disc in the set has several extras. Jim Henson's
son, Brian Henson, introduces each episode and reveals a few facts about the
process involved in filming each episode. Each show also includes previously
unaired skits from the UK (see episode description). There are a few short features
and skits that have been added but they aren't anything outstanding. The
best things are the extra skits and intros.
Overall: This is a neat perfect set of a perfect show. The
only thing that keeps this set from getting a Collector's Set rating is
the packaging and release status. The episodes are mixed together instead of
the order they aired or by season. A season-by-season set would be perfect,
but this will have to do for Muppet fans. There little excuse not to get these
as they are released. The price may seem a little high, but what's better
than getting a new Muppet disc in the mail each month by subscription?