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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Best of The Muppet Show Vol 14
Best of The Muppet Show Vol 14
Time Life // Unrated // September 3, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Bfast]
Review by Phillip Duncan | posted November 20, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Highly Recommended
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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 14:

Liza Minnelli: This is another themed episode (similar to Brooke Shields' Alice and Wonderland). Liza and the Muppets put on a full episode Murder Mystery. Kermit is a private eye that's hired by Liza O'Shaughnessy to discover who is terrorizing her stage show. At the rehearsal the gang does a production of "Copa Cabana" and the director gets murdered at the end. The Muppets appear as angels in a production of "It's Gonna Be a Great Day" as another character gets murdered when Fozzie investigates. Kermit is called to Liza's dressing room to catch the murderer and it's lights out. When Kermit gets ht over the head the show cuts to the UK exclusive skit. A pack of dogs sing, "Pass that Peace Pipe" while backed by the Mayhem band. One by one they are murdered and Liza discovers Kermit (watch for croaking joke). Liza sings to Kermit, "It's a Quiet Thing," to make him feel better. The whole gang gathers again after a few more scenes to sing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" as the killers are revealed. It's an interesting and experimental episode that doesn't carry the laughs as usual, but you see the techniques being developed for the future films.

Madeline Kahn: The first song of the show is also one of the most popular from the entire series. Kermit does an awesome song and dance number called "Happy Feet" where he tap-dances. The foot theme continues after a brief backstage moment when Kahn sings "Feet." It's a hilarious skit that features life-size Muppets with large, purple feet. Later, when Gonzo tells Piggy he no longer cares for her (which is news to her) she becomes jealous because Gonzo thinks Madeline is prettier than her. The Swedish Chef has a surreal skit—even for this show—where the lobster he's about to cook is rescued by a group of bandito lobsters. The UK skit of Floyd singing "New York State of Mind" follows this. Once again the Muppet makers show their knack for creating the most eloquent and simple moments with these characters that they have brought to life with just their creativity. After an episode of Pigs on Space, Fozzie sings "The Pig Got Up And Slowly Walked Away." Madeline and one of the larger, monster Muppets, do a great skit in the park where everything is quickly destroyed. After a quick Muppet News Flash that is deceptively simple, one of my favorite performers, Rowlf does a quick, one line rendition of "Up, Up and Away." Gonzo closes the show with a touching moment between him and Madeline where she explains her true feelings.

Mummenschanz: The theater group Memmenschanz "host" a show that I didn't remember until I started watching it. Scooter and Floyd rock out to "Mr. Bassman" and it's followed up with Mummenschanz doing a cute skit where their faces are notepads with drawn expressions. It's an interesting bit of performance art and a perfect example of the show introducing people to something new. In a brilliant skit, a librarian directs a group as they make noises into producing "The Blue Danube." The Mummenschanz do another skit followed by a great episode of At the Dance. Next up is the UK skit that I seem to remember. It's a green, worm-like creature swimming against a aquarium background singing "I Love the Fish I'm Near." Kermit attempts to the Mummenschanz and then Wayne and Wanda sing "Paper Moon" only to have it go horribly wrong, as usual. A Muppet News Flash is followed by the show closing Clay Face, where the performance artists wear masks made of clay and mold them into new faces as they act.

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?

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