Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 3rd, 2007
What do the following huge stars all have in common: Elton John, George Burns, Peter Sellers, Don Knotts, Bob Hope, John Cleese, Madeline Kahn, and Milton Berle? They all were guests on the second season of Jim Hensonâ€™s The Muppet Show. I canâ€™t believe how many of the episodes I remember watching occurred in the showâ€™s sophomore season. It would be pretty hard to argue that the series became the in place for A list entertainers to have a little fun. Like a neighborhood clubhouse, the top stars would come to the show and allow themselves to be often upstaged by Hensonâ€™s cute little creatures. They would place themselves in ridiculous situations and often allow themselves to be lampooned and ridiculed, and they always appeared to have a blast while they were doing it. Elton John singing his Kiki Dee duet, â€œDonâ€™t Go Breaking My Heartâ€, with Miss Piggy has to be one of televisions most memorable moments. Not only do you have a guest list that would make Saturday Night Live envious, but you have something they never had, namely Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and Gonzo providing their special brand of Muppet madness.
Â Â Â If youâ€™re not familiar with this show, shame on you. In this series The Muppets, Jim Hensonâ€™s own design of puppets take over a concert hall and put on a weekly show. What this means is that you are actually getting to sit behind the scenes as the show is being put on â€œliveâ€. Some of the best bits are provided by Kermitâ€™s frantic attempts to prepare guests and put out fires, literally. Miss Piggy is the showâ€™s prima donna and is always making unreasonable demands to continue working on the show. The band is anchored by that loveable drummer, Animal. Thereâ€™s another story here but, trust me, you donâ€™t want to know. Youâ€™ll also see such running bits as Pigs In Space, a Muppet Star Trek, and, of course, our kitchen chef preparing many delectable delights for your culinary pleasure. Thatâ€™s if he can catch the chicken. The eclectic nature of the guests means thereâ€™s usually something for everyoneâ€™s tastes. I found myself enjoying every show even if I did not care for that particular weekâ€™s star.
Each episode of The Muppets is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. I donâ€™t have to tell you this is an aged show that didnâ€™t necessarily have the best production values to begin with. With that in mind, you really canâ€™t complain about anything in this transfer. Colors are a bit soft and black levels are often weak, but none of this takes away the charm the show still holds. Even with its flaws, the transfer is relatively clean, with only a bit of grain to speak of. There is no question the show looks as good or better than it did on television 30 years ago.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track gives you everything you need even if it canâ€™t deliver everything you might want. Again you must bear in mind that this is a 30 year old production. The simple and dated sound takes nothing away from the showâ€™s enjoyment. Dialog is pretty much all you get, and it is delivered well. The songs lack some of the dynamic range and fullness that weâ€™ve become used to, but it was mono television. I noticed just a hint of upper range distortion on some of the musical numbers, but you really do need to strain to catch it. Likely the sound will sit well with you if you take the time to sit with it.
The Muppets Valentine Show: Mia Farrow is the guest for this normal episode length feature. The episode was originally filmed as a possible pilot for the show. Itâ€™s a music filled romantic themed episode that offers some insight into early ideas of the show. You will notice that the look is a bit different. This was because the overall look and feel of the show had yet to be decided.
Muppet Interviews: This 13 minute feature is a pretty funny parody of some of the interview clips actors often give on DVD supplementals. It was done recently, so Kermit is not voiced by the late great Jim Henson. Henson is talked about by Kermit in a sweet touch that will delight most fans.
A short Music Video by Weezer and friends rounds out the setâ€™s extras quite well.
I was pretty young when Sesame Street aired, but not young enough to fit into their demographic. Fortunately I had sisters who were, so I did manage to see the early years of Sesame Street and those wonderful Muppets the show introduced. When The Muppets finally aired with their own show, I was at the perfect age and enjoyed the show tremendously. The Elton John episode has always been my favorite. When I sat down to watch this DVD set I had only one concern in mind. Would I feel the same about them now as I did then? The answer was, of course, you really can never go home. I recognize how corny the skits were and how awkward the pace of the show was now. Still, I must admit that even though I can see it now with all of its flaws, I canâ€™t help but get a warm sensation when I watch them now. Who canâ€™t warm up to crocodiles doing the â€œCrocodile Rockâ€?