For a third straight year, Jim Henson’s lovable Muppets attracted some of the biggest names in show business. Who would have thought that such big stars would so eagerly agree to co-star opposite a clump of felt and fur? The show was also coming off a monster second year with acts like Elton John, Bob Hope and John Cleese. How do you follow up a year like that? Easy. You get more big names like: Roy Clark, Jean Stapleton, Liberace, Alice Cooper, Cheryl Ladd, Raquel Welch, Danny Kaye, Harry Belafonte, Sylvester Stallone, and even Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Add to the tremendous star power more adventures of Pigs In Space, Veterinarian’s Hospital, and The Swedish Chef, and you have a decade of entertainment in one season set of The Muppets.
<>If you’re not familiar with this show, shame on you. In this series The Muppets, Jim Henson’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 “live”. Some of the best bits are provided by Kermit’s frantic attempts to prepare guests and put out fires, sometimes literally. Miss Piggy is the show’s prima donna and is always making unreasonable demands to continue working on the show. The band is anchored by that loveable drummer, Animal. There’s another story here but, trust me, you don’t want to know. You’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. That’s if he can catch the chicken. The eclectic nature of the guests means there’s usually something for everyone’s tastes. I found myself enjoying every show even if I did not care for that particular week’s star.
<>Each episode of The Muppets is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. I don’t have to tell you this is an aged show that didn’t necessarily have the best production values to begin with. With that in mind, you really can’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 can’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 show’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 we’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.
<>Like the previous year the box comes with a fuzzy cover, this time depicting Fozzie The Bear. I really do not care at all for the twin overlapping disc storage idea. It means removing the odd disc and putting it somewhere, risking scratches, each time you want to play an even disc.
Muppets On Puppets: Jim Henson hosts this 1969 hour long documentary that chronicles the early days of The Muppets. The hands and voices behind the Muppets are seen in their earliest puppeteering days. This is an extraordinary feature that no Muppet fan should be able to resist.
A Company Of Players: This feature works as a perfect companion piece to the previous feature. You get a look behind the scenes of what it takes to create a Muppet performance. Good stuff, or is it stuffing?
<>Muppets Commercials: Purina Dog Chow ran a series of advertisements using The Muppets, and they’re included here.