Friday, March 21, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - The Best Episode of All Time!



Season 3, Episode 14 - Fozzie the Writer
Writing is a very hard profession.  It is much harder than most people think it is.  It is difficult even for the most intelligent of minds.  So why the heck does Fozzie Bear think he can be the show's writer and all he needs is a typewriter?!?!?!?  Despite his lacking, Fozzie tries his hand at scripting the show (as its going on!).  And with a guest star like the worldly singer/songwriter Harry Belafonte, he wants to make the show perfect (then maybe he shouldn't be writing it, but I digress!).  Belafonte begins his appearance by singing his most famous tune "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O!)."  It was the first time he sang it on Television and Fozzie worked in his Fozzie Bear-way to make it special.  Watch below as Fozzie and Harry (and other Muppets) try "do this song right" (especially watch Belafonte's reactions to Fozzie!).

The humor in this episode and some of the other numbers are fantastic (including a drum battle between Mr. Belafonte and Animal!).  All of that certainly makes it "Top 10 Worthy," but the episode is sent into the proverbial stratosphere by its finale.  Mr. Belafonte (like Mr. Cleese) wanted to be very much involved in the material he did on the show.  And he wanted to sing a song that he wrote while travelling in Africa.  He played the song for Jim Henson and the Muppet creative team and they were extremely impressed.  Henson himself oversaw the construction of the Muppets used for the number (which are various African Masked Muppets).  The number, entitled "Turn the World Around," is one of the most rousing, inspirational and heartwarming songs ever performed by the Muppets.  And it became a personal favorite of Henson (Belafonte performed the song at Henson's memorial service in 1990).
It is a perfect ending to a perfect episode!


THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - The TOP TEN (Part C)


#'s 3 & 2

Season 2, Episode 17 - Don't Have a Cow!
She twirled on mountaintops, flew over London with a carpetbag and an umbrella and was the undisputed "fair lady" of the Great White Way.  Julie Andrews was a marvelous guest star for The Muppet Show and her episode is "practically perfect."  Ms. Andrews performs two Rodgers and Hammerstein songs on the show: one from The King and I (with the Muppet monsters) and the other from The Sound of Music (the Musical to which she will forever be associated, below).  In addition to those fantastic numbers, she sings a song to Kermit which she actually wrote!  She also has one of the best "Talk Spots" in the history of the show (it's my brother's favorite!).  During all of this, Kermit is flummoxed to find a live cow backstage (not a Muppet cow and actual cow!).  He enlists Scooter to find out where it came from and figure out what to do with it (and he's not pleased when Scooter's solutions include the Swedish Chef and the Flying Zucchini Brothers!).  And of course, Gonzo falls for the cow!  I won't spoil for you where the cow came from (you do find out!) because its something that has to be seen in the context of the episode (cause its hilarious!).


Season 2, Episode 23 - Stop the Show, I Want to Get Off!
John Cleese is probably one of the funniest people on the planet.  Just watch him in things like A Fish Called Wanda or Fawlty Towers or anything with the Monty Python banner on it.  He is also a very creative and very involved performer; so much so that when he was asked to appear on The Muppet Show, he asked if he could sit in on the writers' meetings and actually work on shaping the episode with them!  And together they came up with (in certainly my brother's opinion, and I pretty much agree) what is the funniest episode in the show's canon.  According to the show's head writer, the late Jerry Juhl, it was Cleese who came up with the concept that he is the guest star who absolutely does NOT want to do the show.  And of course, this concept gave the writers some great leeway and hilarious material.  A major highlight is the "Pigs In Space" sketch where Cleese is "forced" to play a pirate who mistakes the Swinetrek for a ship on the sea.  But the funniest moment (quite possibly the show's funniest moment ever!) is the finale in which...well just watch it below!  Another highlight in the episode is the Great Gonzo's cannonball-catching act (and you can just imagine what that entails!).

Later Today: The Best Episode of All-Time!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - The TOP TEN (Part B)


#'s 6 - 4

Season 4, Episode 24 - What an Audience Wants
When one of the biggest superstars in the world guests on your show, of course the audience will want nothing but that superstar.  The Muppet writers know this and they used it as the primary storyline of the episode starring "Supreme" diva Diana Ross.  The Muppet audience, which is usually apathetic to what the Muppets have to offer (with the exception of Statler & Waldorf!), this time is fairly hostile to the Muppet gang when they are doing anything that has nothing to do with Ms. Ross (they start scoring the acts like Olympic judges!).  Ms. Ross is a hit with the audience singing her songs "Love Hangover," "Last Time I Saw Him" and the anthem "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" (seen below).  The audience jeers everything else from "Pigs In Space" to a charming rendition of "I Go to Rio" to Fozzie Bear's act (naturally!) to Beaker singing "Feelings" (don't ask, just watch!).


Season 4, Episode 20 - Nowhere to Hyde
Alan Arkin is one of the best character actors of his generation.  He's been in countless films and even has earned an Academy Award (for playing the foul-mouthed grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine!).  His varied character parts have ranged from a frazzled Russian officer to a deranged criminal to a Hollywood producer.  Yet, variety performer is not the first thing people think of when they see Mr. Arkin.  The Muppet writers cleverly play with this by having him accidentally drink Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's Jekyll-Hyde potion (seriously, don't ask!).  It turns him into a horrible, raging monster that violently throws the Muppets around (witness the rendition of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" below!).  He does manage to get perform one that he composed himself (You didn't know he was a songwriter did you?!?!?).  Also in this episode is a truly awesome rendition of Charlie Daniels' classic "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."


Season 5, Episode 15 - They Shoot Muppets Don't They?
The Muppet writers are on a roll!  When they latch onto the theme, they go all out.  And this episode is no exception (it won the 1981 Emmy for Best Writing of a Variety Series!).   With the Queen of TV Variety Carol Burnett as the guest star, you know it will be funny.  But you never expect a theme like this.  The Great Gonzo apparently talked Kermit into revolving the whole show around a Dance Marathon.  Gonzo is so determined for this marathon to be successful...and his idea of success is everyone falling to the floor lifeless from exhaustion (again, don't ask!).  Of course, Kermit is uneasy with this whole idea and it certainly doesn't sit well with the guest star (especially when she meets the partner Gonzo has chosen for her, below!).  Kermit does try to give her the variety show she was promised, but Gonzo's Dance Marathon invades everything from "Pigs In Space" to Burnett's songs.  It is probably the funniest Dance Marathon ever to occur!

Tomorrow: The TOP THREE!

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - The TOP TEN (Part A)


#'s 10 - 7
Season 2, Episode 14 - Scooter's Song
First of all, Elton John is one of the greatest pop-rock songwriters of all-time.  His appearance on The Muppet Show is quite possibly the best episode as far as use of Music goes.  He sings four of his biggest hits on the show: "Crocodile Rock" (seen below), "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" (in which Kiki Dee is replaced by Miss Piggy!).  The only qualm I have about this episode is Sir Elton's acting.  It is just this side of atrocious, but at least he tries (and I have to say, in his many TV appearances as himself over the years since, he has gotten much better!).


Season 2, Episode 12 - Just One Person
I have been privileged enough to see Bernadette Peters live on Broadway twice and she was nothing short of phenomenal both times.  On this episode, she sings two absolutely charming songs (one with the Muppet Monsters and the other with Jug Band).  But the biggest highlight of the episode comes thanks to the littlest Muppet, Robin the Frog.  Robin, Kermit's nephew, is frustrated that no one pays attention to him because he is so small.  He decides to run away from home and goes to Ms. Peters to say "Goodbye."  In response, she (with help from some of the other Muppets) sings what has since become one of the most iconic and most touching songs in Muppet history, "Just One Person" (which first appeared in a flop Broadway Musical based on the Peanuts cartoons entitled Snoopy!).  The episode is filled with other great things, but the song (seen below) is so beautiful and powerful that you could read the phone book afterwards and it would still be a great episode.


Season 5, Episode 6 - Brooke In MuppetLand
Brooke Shields was indeed the youngest guest star in Muppet Show history.  In honor of her youth, the Muppet writers decided to have the Muppets perform Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland with Brooke cast as Alice.  With her wide-eyed innocence, Brooke Shields is the perfect choice and she willingly plays along with the zaniness of these disarming Muppets (she even helped build some of the puppets during her breaks from filming!).  Of course, being the Muppets, not everything goes so smoothly.  Miss Piggy believes that she is perfect for Alice (not Miss Shields!), Floyd has a hard time getting around in his caterpillar costume, the special effects of shrinking and growing cause alarming problems for the guest star, the White Rabbit is not as sweet and cute as Mr. Carroll originally described him and even Fozzie Bear dresses as the Tin Woodsman because he mistakenly believes they were performing...wait for it..."Peter Pan!"  It is silly, zany, all-over-the-place and quite possibly one of the cleverest ways they've ever performed a story on The Muppet Show.


Season 3, Episode 11 - What a Woman!
Probably the sexiest guest star to appear on this show was the actress who gained fame in cult films like One Million Years B.C., BedazzledMyra Breckinridge and Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers: Ms. Raquel Welch.  And in addition to being drop dead gorgeous, she is quite the dynamic musical performer.  She sings Diana Ross' hit "Baby, It's You" and dances with a large Muppet spider (see below).  She sings a beautiful seduction song ("Confide in Me") to a rather flustered Fozzie Bear.  And she tops it off with a sexy rendition of the rock classic "Woman" with help from the fantastic (if not a little jealous!) Miss Piggy.  Frank Oz really does deserve an MVP award for the work he did in this episode as Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Animal and the lesser known Marvin Suggs who shows off his abuse of the poor little Muppaphones.

Later Today: More of the TOP TEN!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - Part VIII

Season 2, Episode 19 - A Little Peace and Quiet
The comic genius that was Peter Sellers was a perfect guest for the Muppets because he was just as zany as they were.  He could play any character: be it a gypsy violinist, a southern preacher, a german massage therapist or even Queen Victoria (as a hairy viking?!?! - see below).  In addition to Sellers, Kermit is harried backstage by certain Muppets (namely Beaker!) constantly disappearing and re-appearing (obviously the answer is in Muppet Labs!).  All the zaniness is balanced out when Kermit, who is just looking for "a little peace and quiet," sings a beautiful rendition of his anthem "Bein' Green" (like he did a year before in the Peter Ustinov episode, here it just makes more sense!).


Season 3, Episode 5 - Surely You Joust
Pearl Bailey was an amazing trailblazer of a performer and yet another guest who was perfect for The Muppet Show.  She sings a rousing gospel song and a charming duet with Floyd.  But, of course, the biggest highlight of the episode is the finale (which is causing all the concerns backstage!).  Kermit has scheduled the Muppets to perform "the jousting scene from Camelot" as the finale and certain Muppets have a problem with it (namely Floyd, who has been cast as one of the knights!).  When Kermit tries to cancel it, he is met with more resistance (this time Gonzo, who is the other knight!).  This jousting scene, ironically, features no actual songs from Camelot; but it does feature songs from almost every other great Musical of Broadway's Golden Age (e.g. My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, etc.).


Season 4, Episode 9 - Pigoletto
Beverly Sills was the great opera diva who also championed the New York Arts, in particular all the things at Lincoln Center.  But that doesn't mean she didn't know how to get down and have a little fun!  And the Muppets were happy to help her do just that.  First, Fozzie mistakes her for a Country music diva and asks her tap dance!  Second, she tries a little "spoon-hanging" with Gonzo.  And lastly, she auditions pigs for her finale "Pigoletto" (seen below) and, of course, Miss Piggy wants to be featured.  And of course, it is quite awesome!


Season 1, Episode 17 - Bear In a Box
I love Ben Vereen in anything he does.  Be it Pippin or Roots or his recurring role on How I Met Your Mother, he is just an all-around talent.  And his appearance on The Muppet Show is clearly no exception. He sings Chicago's "Mr. Cellophane," dances the boogie-woogie and beautifully serenades a Muppet with the Willy Wonka anthem "Pure Imagination" (seen below).  During all this, he is constantly the target of Crazy Harry's antics.  On top of that, Fozzie gets locked in a magician's box and has to spend the whole episode trapped (he even does his act from inside the box!).  Side note: This happens to be the highest ranking episode from the first season on the list.


Season 4, Episode 19 - Wonder Muppets
With Wonder Woman herself as the guest star, most of the Muppets (led mostly by Scooter) want to try to be superheroes too.  And boy is it hilarious!  They're all reading a book about "How to Be a Superhero."  Miss Piggy even coaxes Kermit to allow her to do a sketch (that she wrote!) called "Wonder Pig."  The best part (as both my brother and I agree!) is when Scooter and the other Muppets trying to be superheroes read the chapter about Flying.  In addition, Ms. Carter performs some great songs including "Rubber Band Man" and "Orange-Colored Sky" (seen below).  Plus, Janice performs a good rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends" in a human sacrifice setting!

Coming Soon: THE TOP TEN!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - Part VII

Season 1, Episode 16 - How to Make a Frog Jealous
In the show's first season, the head writer was comedian Jack Burns who asked his former cohort Avery Schreiber to be a guest in the show's early days.  And Schreiber delivered.  My brother refers to him as a "Human Muppet."  He has some really great scenes (including a battle of wits with Sweetums and a hilarious pantomime with Fozzie!).  But the big highlight is that Miss Piggy wants to make Kermit jealous and has enlisted Mr. Schreiber to pretend to be madly in love with her.  It's a story only the likes of Jack Burns could have written!


Season 5, Episode 21 - W-HOG
With Country legend Johnny Cash as the guest star, the Muppet Theater has teamed with a local Country radio station (W-HOG) to broadcast the show.  However the man in charge of the station, Big Tiny Tall Saddle, believes he is running the entire show.  He has no idea who the Muppets are and moreover, he doesn't care.  And when someone disagrees with him or gets in his way, he ties a microphone stand around them.  All while this is happening, Country's Man In Black is singing some of his hit songs like "Ghost Riders In the Sky," "Orange Blossom Special" and "Jackson" (which he duets with the fantastic Miss Piggy below!).


Season 3, Episode 7 - Searching For Souls
When you think of guest stars on variety shows in 1970s a few of the normal names come to mind, but no one ever immediately says rock star Alice Cooper was at the top of that list.  At the time he was very controversial, yet the writers were able to play with that.  While all traditionalists were complaining that Cooper was "an agent of the Devil," the Muppet writers chose to write him as...well an agent of the Devil trying to get the Muppets to sign their souls away.  In the meantime, he performs two of his biggest hits "Welcome to My Nightmare" and "School's Out for Summer" (seen below!).  Because this episode centered around monsters, ghosts and all things creepy, it was aired as the Halloween episode in the United States.


Season 4, Episode 18 - Super Duper Superman
Christopher Reeve was truly a Superman.  I mean he was really really talented!  And this episode proves how talented he really was.  He performs Shakespeare (with help from Fozzie and Link, so maybe not exactly!).  He takes part in a Vet's Hospital sketch (and does their usual brand of pun humor!).  But the biggest highlight is, as usual, Miss Piggy.  She is so thrilled that Christopher "Superman" Reeve is on the show that she is determined to perform a romantic duet with him as the closing number.  She even goes as far as to slam the piano lid on Rowlf's hands so that Mr. Reeve will have to play it instead (yet another thing the Man of Steel could do!).


Season 2, Episode 8 - Auditions
At the beginning of the show, Kermit realizes that he had scheduled time for auditions.  So he announces that the evening's show is cancelled and sends the audience home.  This does not sit well with some of the other Muppets (namely Miss Piggy and Fozzie!), but it also doesn't please the week's guest star, the great comedian Steve Martin.  Martin decides to stick around and perform his schtick (which includes balloon animals and banjo playing!) for the rest of the Muppet gang.  It was one of the first times that the show's writers decided to play with the usual format, and it works quite well (the production crew especially loved it!).  And Gonzo dances with cheese!  What more could you want?


Season 1, Episode 5 - The Running Gag
Rita Moreno belongs to that prestige club in Entertainment that is known as EGOT.  And it was with this performance on The Muppet Show that she became a member of that club.  Watching her episode, it is not hard to see why.  She fights/tangos with a sleazy looking Muppet, she joins a panel discussion about conversation (as a character with a very thick accent!) and she performs Peggy Lee's "Fever" with some (often inconvenient!) help from Animal (see below).  The latter sketch has gone down into Muppet history as a true and utter classic (and it's probably what won her the Emmy!).  All while this occurs, Fozzie drives Kermit nuts backstage by handling some odd phone calls.

Tomorrow: #'s 15-11

Sunday, March 16, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - Part VI

Season 5, Episode 11 - Songwriting Woes
With a legendary and prolific singer/songwriter like Paul Simon as the guest star, the Muppets center the whole show around his songs.  Simon himself sings his hits like "Long, Long Day," "Loves Me Like a Rock" and "Scarborough Fair" (seen below).  In addition to that, Floyd and Janice duet on his song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (which of course the Muppets use the title for some really bad puns!) and even Gonzo tries his hand at songwriting (with exactly the disastrous results you can imagine!).

Season 4, Episode 10 - Slippery When Oiled
Kermit injures himself during the opening number and the Muppets are thrown into chaos.  Backstage there is also some chaos, the Theater owner has sold the mineral rights to some Arab businessmen and they begin to drill for oil (don't worry, the jokes are not as racist as you might expect!).  In the meantime, guest star Kenny Rogers sings some of his best songs (especially "The Gambler," seen below).  As for Kermit, it wouldn't the Muppets without some strange hilarity.  He takes part in a musical number, "assists" Gonzo with his catapult and is subjected to the help of Piggy who is determined to take care of her matter how much it hurts him.


Season 3, Episode 16 - Statler & Waldorf Skip a Night
Statler and Waldorf leave their box during the show's theme song because they are not pleased with who the announced guest star is (they refer to him as "Whats-his-face Kaye, the worst performer they have ever seen!).  Of course they are mistaken, since Danny Kaye was the perfect performer to join the Muppets.  He sings a duet with Miss Piggy, cooks with the Swedish Chef (as his uncle, see below!) and sings his sweet hit "Inchworm" from the film Hans Christian Andersen.  In the end, Statler and Waldorf find out they were indeed mistaken (I won't tell you how, but it is quite funny!).


Season 5, Episode 13 - Piggy Gets Stoned
Noted stage, screen and TV star joins the Muppets and creates havoc when he thumbs through an old magic spell book and accidentally turns Miss Piggy into a stone statue.  He does everything he can to rectify it, but to no avail.  Of course, the rest of the Muppets (with the exception of Kermit) think this is utterly hilarious (cause...well it is!), especially her fellow "Pigs In Space" crew.  In addition to the backstage hilarity, this episode features some great numbers including a rousing rendition of the rock classic "Yakkety Yak."


Season 4, Episode 14 - Muppet Murders
Liza (with her "Z") joins the Muppets for a little murder mystery.  Kermit takes the part of a Sam Spade-like detective who is hired by famed performer Liza O'Shaughnessy (Ms. Minnelli) to find out who is trying to sabotage her new show.  While investigating, the director (played by Dr. Strangepork) and the stage manager (Scooter) are both murdered and the list of suspects keeps growing.  In the meantime, several great songs are performed like "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Great Day," "A Quiet Thing" and a charming rendition of Barry Mannilow's hit "CopaCabana" (seen below, with Liza as Lola!).


Season 1, Episode 22 - The Small World of Irving Bizarre
Fozzie is excited to renegotiate his contract and he brings in his "big gun," his agent Irving Bizarre.  During all this, Broadway legend Ethel Merman sings some of her most classic tunes.  She even sings a bunch of them in one medley with most of the Muppet gang (seen below).  She tops it all off with a big, brassy and belty rendition of her legendary anthem "There's No Business Like Show Business."  There certainly was no one like her.


Season 5, Episode 14 - Too Many Beakers!
Country star Mac Davis joins the Muppets and he sings some fun and catchy tunes ("Hard to Be Humble" is quite hilarious when he sings it with Link Hogthrob!).  But its chaos going on backstage at the Muppet Theater that drives this episode to great hilarity.  Dr. Bunsen Honeydew has commanded his poor assistant Beaker to test the Muppet Lab's new copier, and Beaker accidentally makes several copies of himself in the process.  The many Beakers run amok backstage driving the rest of the Muppets nuts, confusing Mac Davis and hunting down Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (who they blame for some strange and unknown reason!?!?!?!?!).

Tomorrow: #'s 21-16

Saturday, March 15, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - Part V

Season 3, Episode 18 - Welcome Big Bird!
Sesame Street's Big Bird was the most popular Muppet of the 1970s.  And it was perfectly natural for the character to make an appearance on The Muppet Show just as it was rising in popularity.  Joining Big Bird's cameo is Broadway and TV star Leslie Uggams, who covers everyone from Dolly Parton to the Captain and Tennile.  While Uggams' performances are quite fantastic, the highlight comes when Big Bird meets a certain pig.


Season 5, Episode 4 - Gold Fever
Singing star Shirley Bassey is terrific as she sings her biggest hit (the James Bond theme "Goldfinger").  She also sings other songs like "Pennies From Heaven" (seen below).  To celebrate her singing of "Goldfinger," Kermit wanted to paint the set gold but Scooter informs him that they are out of gold paint.  Scooter then manages to get a load of gold bricks for Shirley to sit upon, however the bricks are heavily monitored by a very over-zealous security guard named Bruno (the first thing he does is try to arrest Kermit!).  It is one of the funniest and musically perfect episodes of the last season.


Season 2, Episode 9 - Weirdo In Love Part II
Guest star Madeline Kahn tells the Great Gonzo that she thinks he's terrific.  Of course being Gonzo, he misinterprets and thinks that they are now engaged.  When he realizes the truth, we get one of the more poignant moments in the show's history.  And there are still some other classic Muppet moments in the episode including Madeline Kahn's sketch with a Muppet monster, Gonzo telling Miss Piggy he will no longer pursue her (let's just say she's not a fan of being replaced!), Fozzie's song about pigs (which doesn't sit well with some of the Muppet pigs!), Ms. Kahn's song about "Feet" and (most classic of all!) Kermit showing that he can tap dance with "Happy Feet" (there must have been something in the writers' room about feet this time around!).


Season 4, Episode 7 - Music Like MAMMA Makes
When comedian Dudley Moore guests on the show, he brings along MAMMA, a Music and Mood Management Apparatus.  Kermit is so impressed with Dudley's machine that he asks to use it for the entire show.  Of course the band is not too happy with this (see below).  And some of the other Muppets find MAMMA's presence a little annoying.


Season 5, Episode 5 - Animal Control
Animal goes a little nuts (more than usual!) and its up to guest star James Coburn to tame him.  Coburn teaches Animal the art of meditation and being very "serene."  The rapport between Animal and Coburn is just perfect (let's face it, all of Frank Oz' characters were awesome!), and a big highlight of the episode is a salute to the Roaring '20s featuring Coburn and the Great Gonzo.


Season 3, Episode 4 - Sticking to Carrots
Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner joins the Muppets to do everything from sing operetta to try a little tap dancing (below).  Of course, it wouldn't be the Muppets unless they throw in some complications (like a seven-foot-carrot instead of parrot or Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's super-adhesive spilling all over the stage!).  The episode also features an intriguing rendition of the classic song "Lullaby of Broadway," at least intriguing in Muppet terms.


Season 2, Episode 24 - Pig Take-Over
The Muppet pigs decide it is time that they take over the show.  They kidnap Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo and lock them in the boiler room.  They also replace them with pig versions like Kermit the Pig or Fozzie Pig.  To keep Miss Piggy appeased, they promise to feature her prominently in musical numbers and sketches (like "Pigs In Space").  As for guest star Cloris Leachman, she too is not pleased that the Kermit hosting is not the Kermit she knows (at least until Kermit the Pig ribbits!).


Season 3, Episode 21 - Cluckitis
When Country star Roger Miller comes onto the show, the entire Muppet gang is besieged by a bout of "Cluckitis."  What is Cluckitis you ask?  Well, it is a disease that turns one into a chicken (and I don't mean a cowardly person, I mean an actual least in Muppet form!).  Only the Muppets can come up with one of the funniest diseases ever to be seen on Television.

Tomorrow: #'s 28-22

Friday, March 14, 2014

THE MUPPET SHOW: Every Episode Ranked - Part IV

#'s 45 - 37

Season 4, Episode 6 - Happy Birthday Kermit!
At the beginning of the episode, Miss Piggy interrupts Kermit's introduction to announce that it is his birthday and all of the Muppet gang have created surprises for him on his special day.  Kermit, of course, is quite reluctant but he is excited about guest star Linda Lavin (of TV's Alice) who sings some great songs (and she even gets to slap Miss Piggy!).  In the end, we find out why Kermit was so reluctant (but I won't spoil it for you!).

Season 3, Episode 8 - Workin' On the Railroad
One of the things I love is when the Muppet writers decided to play with the show's format.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.  This was one of the earliest times they attempted it and what they ended up with was really quite clever.  In the story, the Muppet Theater is being fumigated and the Great Gonzo had the "brilliant" idea to move the show to a local railroad station (again, don't ask!).  But as Country legend Loretta Lynn, the episode's guest star, puts it: "We country singers can sing anywhere!"


Season 5, Episode 23 - Kermit's Crush
Kermit and guest star Linda Ronstadt share a mutual little crush on each other, but there is someone who is not to pleased with that (do I really need to tell you who it is?).  But Ronstadt (in perfect full voice) sings some fabulous songs like "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)," the haunting "Blue Bayou" and the sweet "When I Grow to Old to Dream" (seen below).

Season 4, Episode 22 - Engagement Announcement
Miss Piggy has a plan (yet again!).  She thinks if she can get guest star Andy Williams to sing "The Theme from Love Story," it will excite Kermit enough to welcome an engagement announcement (even though Kermit has not proposed!).  Kermit is of course not as receptive to the idea as Piggy would have hoped and he is even a little miffed that Andy Williams took part in such a ruse.  But of course everything is resolved by the end and Piggy goes on pursuing her frog despite his tiny protests.  One day, there will be the pitter-patter of bouncing baby "figs."

Season 5, Episode 16 - Blow the Roof Off the Place
The phenomenal Gladys Knight (sans her Pips!) joins the Muppets for zany half-hour in which the Muppet Theater's roof has rotted through.  It exposes all performances to leaks, cold, fog and even snow.  But Ms. Knight handles herself well through her soulful renditions of "Friendship Train," the beautiful "God Bless the Child" and the groovy "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (which she performs with the help of Muppet grapes!).

Season 1, Episode 11 - Singing in the Shadow
Was there a Lady of Song classier than Lena Horne?  Every song Ms. Horne sings is marvelous.  And it was around this time that the show was beginning to find its niche with good episodes among the so-so episodes.  This one would be a really good episode.

Season 1, Episode 3 - Give Me a Subject!
For their third episode, the Muppets procured Cabaret star Joel Grey to stop the show with some "Razzle Dazzle."  And while the first two episodes were kind of a mixed bag, with this one they were perfecting their format.  You could see very well what kind of variety show they wanted to be and with a guest like Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey, they have their format in very good hands.  

Season 5, Episode 24 - Pies Like Us
James Bond himself joins the Muppets for what aired as the final episode of the show ever.  Roger Moore brings his suave quality to a scene where Miss Piggy tries to seduce him (singing "Slow Boat to China") and a rendition of "Talk to the Animals" where he wants to sing with cute and cuddly Muppets.  The problem is that Kermit was under the impression that by having Agent 007 he could have a action-packed spy number for the finale and he ordered actual spies.  The spies try to blend in to the cute number to get their hands on Moore, but of course the super-sleek agent is ten steps ahead of them.  This episode also features one of the most famous Muppet numbers: a group of Viking pigs singing the Village People's classic "In the Navy."

Season 2, Episode 2 - Lady Wrestlers
Legendary comedian Zero Mostel (of Fiddler On the Roof and The Producers fame) was a great guest to have on The Muppet Show.  He sang a song from the musical Camelot dressed as Henry VIII.  He read a poem entitled "Fears of Zero" surrounded by all kinds of Muppet creepy crawlies.  But the best moment is when Sam the Eagle, in his fervor to make the show cultural and moral, goes to visit Mr. Mostel in his dressing room and hilarity ensues (see the clip below).  Sadly Mr. Mostel passed away three months after the episode completed filming and shortly before it had a chance to air, making The Muppet Show his final TV, Film or Stage appearance in his storied career.

Coming Soon: #'s 36-29