It’s been a while now since we finished our enormously popular review series “The Muppet Show: 40 Years Later,” concluding with the fifth and final season. But I didn’t want to be remiss in my season-ending tradition of compiling superlatives from our reviews to find out just what made the season so special.

As you may know, in addition to several paragraphs devoted to sharp-eyed critical analysis (or talk about ), each review contains a section singling out various elements of that episode: What was the best joke? What was the musical highlight? And so on.

So let’s take a look at the best (and not-so-best) of season five, starting with…

MOST VALUABLE MUPPETS

This title goes to the Muppet who makes the greatest contribution to each episode. Last season Kermit took the lead, but this season it’s Fozzie! The comedian bear was anointed MVM four times (for the Señor Wences, Marty Feldman, Gladys Knight, and Brooke Shields episodes). Then it’s a four-way tie for second place, with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and Animal each being named MVM for two episodes.

Other characters who earned the MVM title once each:

Beauregard (Buddy Rich)
The announcer from “Pigs in Space” and “Veterinarian’s Hospital” (Gene Kelly)
The Gnu (Chris Langham)
The rats (Joan Baez)
Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, Beaker, and Beaker (Mac Davis)
Loretta Swit (Loretta Swit)
Eric the Parrot (Glenda Jackson)
Scooter when he turns into Gonzo after a magic spell gone wrong (Tony Randall)
Lips (Shirley Bassey)
Lew Zealand (Roger Moore)

Here are some of our notable picks from other categories throughout the season…

BEST JOKES

KERMIT: Listen Scooter, if I come up with any more dumb ideas like that, stop me.
SCOOTER: Right. Shall I cancel the blindfolded yodeling hang glider?
KERMIT: Of course not. I said “dumb ideas”. 
(Melissa Manchester)

Kermit explains to Gonzo that a puppet is a doll made to look alive by wiggling it, and Gonzo asks, “Who wants to watch dolls wiggle? Doll wiggling, talk about boring!”

BEAUREGARD: Could I use your window?
BUDDY: Well, I know it’s bad, Beau, but don’t jump.
BEAUREGARD: Jump? I was just going to take a nap on the fire escape. That is, unless you know any inspirational songs.
(Buddy Rich)

SAM: Under whose name is this invention to be patented?
MARTY: Wilbur and Orville Wright.
SAM: Which one are you?
MARTY: That is me.
SAM: You are Wilbur and Orville Wright?
MARTY: Exactly. You see, my mother wanted twins. Identical ones. That’s why I look so alike.
(Marty Feldman)

ROWLF: Maybe that trick’s too hard for her. Have her do something simple. Like, roll over and play dead.
MISS PIGGY: Why don’t you roll over and drop dead? If I want her to do something simple, I would have had her play the piano and make dumb remarks.
(Wally Boag)

Scooter enthusiastically announces “The act you’ve all been waiting for – the one and only Signor Baffi and his flashing knives of death!” complete with Scooter Fist.
(Gladys Knight)

Miss Piggy puppeteers a weird puppet version of herself, only to throw it away.
(Paul Simon)

The “Pigs in Space” announcer hurts his ankle, and Link advises him to “get your mommy to kiss it.”
(Gene Kelly)

A Frog Scout gets physically thrown out of Animal’s dressing room.
(Debbie Harry)

Kermit defends Fozzie to Wally Whoopie, laying on the compliments, but he forgets to include the word “funny.”
(Johnny Cash)

As Kermit begins to explain where Statler and Waldorf are, Fozzie interjects, claiming they’ve died.
(Hal Linden)

Chris Langham does a bizarre impression of an owl, then notes that it’s “just the sort of stuff you can do at home, you know?”
(Chris Langham)

STATLER: One more chorus would’ve killed the pig!
WALDORF: Encore! Encore!
(Jean-Pierre Rampal)

JOAN: At least you’re unbiased.
POPS: ‘Til you came around we were un-Baezed!”
(Joan Baez)

After Mac Davis calls for a round of applause for the band and all their great work…
FLOYD: “It’s nice of you to notice!”
ANIMAL: “Nice Mac! Nice Mac!”
ZOOT: “Yeah, it’s mighty big of you.”
ANIMAL: “Big Mac! Big Mac!”
(Mac Davis)

LORETTA: Hello! I’m nurse Loretta, and I’m here to fill in for nurse Piggy.
ROWLF: Well, uhh, if you’re here to fill in for nurse Piggy, you’d better fill out! 
LORETTA: Is that some kind of a fat joke?
ROWLF: Uh, yes, unfortunately, it’s not the funny kind.
(Loretta Swit)

After her hench-Muppets tie up Kermit, one of the pirates asks Glenda Jackson if they tied him too tight. Jackson responds, “No no no, his eyes were always like that.”
(Glenda Jackson)

WALDORF: Oh, I thought that bayou number was okay, didn’t you?
STATLER: Well, it’s okay by me if it’s okay bayou!
(Linda Ronstadt)

Piggy falls off the backstage balcony, and Tony asks if she broke anything. Kermit replies “Yeah, a couple of floorboards”
(Tony Randall)

Fozzie enters the Wonderland episode dressed as a character from The Wizard of Oz and then tells Kermit he thought they were doing Peter Pan.
(Brooke Shields)

An Octopus pushes Waldorf out of the balcony.
(James Coburn)

When Pops meets Shirley Bassey at the stage door and finds out she’s the guest star on the show, he tells her she can brush his rat. Shirley balks at the suggestion, but Pops tells her everyone pitches in around here. Undeterred, Shirley deadpans, “Oh, good, then you can comb my crocodile,” and plops one down on Pops’ desk.
(Shirley Bassey)

Kermit comes out to introduce Roger Moore: “Um, and now a man who needs no introduction, so what am I doing out here?”
(Roger Moore)

CAROL BURNETT AS AN ASPARAGUS: “What a lonely asparagus am I. Most of my hollandaise are behind me!”
(Carol Burnett)

FEMALE WHATNOT: “You know the first thing we should do if we win this dance marathon?”
MALE WHATNOT: “No, what?”
FEMALE WHATNOT: “STOP DANCING, DUMMY!”
(Carol Burnett)

WORST JOKES

After the Vienna Downhill Boys Choir find themselves in wheelchairs, covered in casts, they invite Scooter to their “cast party.”
(Melissa Manchester)

Pops is stirring his coffee with his finger and says, “There’s something terrible in this coffee. Oh! It’s my finger.”
(Señor Wences)

Buddy Rich talks about lard around Miss Piggy.
(Buddy Rich)

STATLER: Poor Lottie Lemon. I hope someone knows first aid.
WALDORF: Forget first aid, Lottie needs lemonade.
(Wally Boag)

A Muppet construction worker tells Kermit “There’s something I don’t like about heights – falling from them.”
(Glady Knight)

“50 Ways to Love Your Lever” and its a callback.
(Paul Simon)

The gay panic of two male dogs kissing after chasing around a fiddle-playing lady dog in “Fit as Fiddle”
(Gene Kelly)

The Frog Scouts are trying to earn their punk merit badge and ask Debbie for advice because they’re “only tender-flippers.” Harry suggests that pogo dancing will give them tender-flippers.
(Debbie Harry)

Waldorf says, “If men that ride horses are called cowboys, what do you call chickens that ride cows?” Statler responds, “Stupid!”
(Johnny Cash)

Muppets fall down a trap door, but emerge unscathed 2 seconds later.
(Hal Linden)

During the closing number, Chris yells “Hawaii! Ha-why not?!”
(Chris Langham)

“That’s what happens when you take Gandhi from a baby.”
(Joan Baez)

After Mac Davis’s underwater number…
WALDORF: “Was that a topical song?”
STATLER: “No, topical fish!”
(Mac Davis)

When Dr. Bob asks Loretta Swit if she has the clamps, she says “Uh, no. My stomach’s a little upset, but I don’t have any clamps.”
(Loretta Swit)

Every joke in the final “At the Dance” sketch.
(Glenda Jackson)

SCOOTER: Well, I see the cat came back.
ROWLF: Well, we all came back. That’s ’cause the number’s over.
(Linda Ronstadt)

Tony Randall calls the show crummy then everyone cheers.
(Tony Randall)

“I’m looking for a hole.”
“A whole? A whole what?
“I hate smart Alices.”
(Brooke Shields)

Waldorf says of the octopus in the balcony box: “You can’t throw him out! He’s a family man! He’s got a wife and squids!”
(James Coburn)

WALDORF: Ah, Fire Down Below! Great number!
STATLER: Thanks!
WALDORF: Thanks? You didn’t write Fire Down Below.
STATLER: No, but the guy who did had just had a bowl of my chili!
(Shirley Bassey)

WALDORF: Quite a touching scene. Oh-oh-seven and seven-oh-oh.
STATLER: Seven-oh-oh? Is that Miss Piggy’s code name?
WALDORF No, it’s her weight!
(Roger Moore)

MOST CLASSIC MOMENTS

The Newsman reports that beef stocks are falling dramatically, and then a cow falls on his head.
(Melissa Manchester)

Beauregard is performing a Punch and Judy act for Kermit backstage when Miss Piggy enters and expresses her disbelief that they’re replacing her act on the show this week.

Buddy Rich’s drumming, when he plays the theater and has a drum battle with Animal. (Buddy Rich)

The “Ali Baba” scene, where the magic words “Open Sesame!” result in a cameo by several Sesame Street Muppets.
(Marty Feldman)

The Leprechaun Brothers (Animal, the Swedish Chef, and Beaker) sing “Danny Boy.”
(Wally Boag)

A “Vet’s Hospital” where the patient is a weatherman who keeps singing weather-related standards.
(Gladys Knight)

The medley of piano songs that aren’t “Singin’ in the Rain.”
(Gene Kelly)

Debbie Harry sings “Call Me,” with a band of punk Muppets backing her.
(Debbie Harry)

Johnny Cash and Miss Piggy sing some of “Jackson.”
(Johnny Cash)

Kermit and Fozzie hang out in Statler and Waldorf’s balcony.
(Hal Linden)

The Time Travel Apparatus sketch.
(Chris Langham)

Jean-Pierre Rampal’s performance of “The Little Shepherd.”
(Jean-Pierre Rampal)

Floyd and Janice’s performance of “Blackbird.”
(Joan Baez)

Piggy is fired, FIRED!
(Loretta Swit)

“The Cat Came Back” number.
(Linda Ronstadt)

The moment when Miss Piggy is turned into a statue.
(Tony Randall)

Everything to do with the Muppets’ adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
(Brooke Shields)

The “Bear on Patrol” sketch with Banananose Maldonado.
(James Coburn)

“Barnyard Boogie”
(Shirley Bassey)

“In the Navy”
(Roger Moore)

MOST DATED JOKES

Doctor Bob asks if Pinocchio’s mother was frightened by the Concorde.
(Señor Wences)

Marty Feldman’s Scheherazade notes that they used up some of the show’s budget hiring his curly blonde wig from Bette Midler.
(Marty Feldman)

During the “Pecos Bill” number, a particular inappropriate term for Native Americans is used.
(Wally Boag)

Gladys Knight’s fur coat in the good nights is not a joke, but it couldn’t possibly be more 70s.
(Gladys Knight)

Statler references not hearing from The Beatles, because at this point they were all still alive.
(Hal Linden)

The codeword in Chris Langham’s escape artist act is “Hoopla!” It’s 1980, so they didn’t have to worry about the audience thinking of “We Built This City.”
(Chris Langham)

Link says of Piggy “You said it was a rat trap, it looks more like a fat trap!” Also, a rat wearing a sombrero who speaks in a stereotypical accent says “Not until you let me do my famous Mexican rat dance!” 
(Joan Baez)

A lot of jokes about Miss Piggy being fat.
(Tony Randall)

Kermit mentions The Gong Show, a show that is even more 70s than The Muppet Show.
(James Coburn)

FEMALE SACK: It’s all your fault! You’ve got no sense of rhythm!
MALE SACK: Aw, shut up, you old bag!
(Shirley Bassey)

When Miss Piggy tries to romance Roger Moore, wishing she could get him “On a Slow Boat to China,” Moore responds, “not even Concorde.”
(Roger Moore)

COOLEST PUPPETRY TRICKS

Skiers tumble with the help of some fast-paced Chroma Key backgrounds of snowy hills, Beauregard plays harmonica while rocking in a chair, and the Muppets fly into the air after being launched by a teeter-totter.
(Melissa Manchester)

Everything by special guest Bruce Schwartz, a bunraku puppeteer.
(Señor Wences)

The “Night and Day” number features singing puppet sarcophagi and puppet mummies.
(Gladys Knight)

A Muppet walks on stilts throughout the “Scarborough Fair” number, and at one stage Gonzo goes between his legs.
(Paul Simon)

A member of the jugband gargles real water.
(Gene Kelly)

Any time Lips’ fingers move on his trumpet.
(Hal Linden)

At the beginning of the UK spot, Rowlf lights a candelabra on his piano… and then blows out the match.
(Mac Davis)

The use of miniatures and video editing in “I Feel the Earth Move” is really good to make Thog appear as a kaiju-style monster rampaging through the town.
(Loretta Swit)

Scooter’s changes as Tony Randall reads magic spells.
(Tony Randall)

The use of the green screen in the “Falling” song and “Jabberwocky.”
(Brooke Shields)

Two Fazoobs perform “Isn’t It a Lovely Day,” with one of them firing cannonballs that land back inside its head. And “After You’ve Gone,” with each member of the Muppet orchestra playing their instrument remarkably convincingly.
(Shirley Bassey)

All the puppetry.
(Roger Moore)

When dancing Muppet couples do a bob-and-weave move. It’s hard to describe, but I like it. And when Carol Burnett’s Charwoman sings her melancholy solo song and we can see the shadows of the dancing Muppets on the wall behind her.
(Carol Burnett)

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Melissa Manchester and Floyd bang out “Whenever I Call You Friend” with some serious sexual tension, only to be blocked by a chorus of Muppets joining in around the piano.
(Melissa Manchester)

The whole episode, especially “Good Day Sunshine / Dancing in the Dark.”.
(Buddy Rich)

Kermit insists to a menacing genie (played by Sweetums) that he’s not Sinbad the Sailor. He’s Sinbad the Surfer. He proves it by singing “Surfin’ USA.”
(Marty Feldman)

Gladys Knight sings ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ with Muppet grapes.
(Glady Knight)

Floyd and Janice sing ’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ backed up by Animal and Rizzo.
(Paul Simon)

“Ghost Riders in the Sky”
(Johnny Cash)

“Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner”
(Chris Langham)

“Rockin’ Robin,” with the Electric Mayhem perched up in a tree.
(Jean-Pierre Rampal)

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”
(Joan Baez)

“I Believe in Music”
(Mac Davis)

“I Feel the Earth Move”
(Loretta Swit)

The end medley of “Rule, Britannia!,” “Sailing, Sailing,” “Anchors Aweigh,” El Rancho Grande, and Dead Man’s Chest blend together well for an exciting and fun battle at sea performance onstage.
(Glenda Jackson)

Linda Ronstadt and Janice belt out “It’s in His Kiss.”
(Linda Ronstadt)

“Yakety Yak”
(Tony Randall)

“Falling”
(Brooke Shields)

Wayne sings “Close to You” in a curly blue wig and mustache.
(James Coburn)

Shirley Bassey sings “Goldfinger.”
(Shirley Bassey)

The orchestra plays an instrumental version of “How High the Moon.”
(Roger Moore)

ADULTIEST CONTENT

“Puppet Man,” a song about a man doing anything for his woman if she just “pulls his string,” is made a million times creepier by it being Pinocchio singing the song to Geppetto.
(Señor Wences)

When Debbie Harry first enters the Muppet Theater at the beginning of the episode and has her interaction with Pops, she’s wearing her sunglasses indoors. She appears to be playing the scene a little hungover!
(Debbie Harry)

After Chris Langham says that he’s zen skiing, Sam the Eagle says “I’ve always had the greatest respect for other people’s crackpot beliefs.” It’s the perfect summary of Sam.
(Chris Langham)

Two random French Muppets are getting totally frisky during the UK-only “La Seine” number.
(Jean-Pierre Rampal)

The song “Honest Lullaby” includes the phrase “lusted after football heroes” and then “spending all my energy in keeping my virginity.”
(Joan Baez)

When Mac Davis sings “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” he includes the line “I must be a hell of a man.” Later in the song, all the Muppets sing it with him! 
(Mac Davis)

In the “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” number, a posse of chickens with guns manage to shoot their way through a henhouse occupied by some nasty critters who have broken in.
(Loretta Swit)

James Coburn pulls out a gun and shoots at Scooter twice.
(James Coburn)

Dancing Sacks. Heh.
(Shirley Bassey)

Link drinks a glass of champagne.
(Carol Burnett)

Thanks to all Tough Pigs contributors who wrote reviews — David Beukema, Jarrod Fairclough, Julia Gaskill, Evan G, Sarah Grace, Joe Hennes, Louie Pearlman, Staci Rosen, Ryan Roe, Matthew Soberman, Anthony Strand, and Matt Wilkie!

Click here to comb your crocodile on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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