The countdown to the debut of The Muppet Show on Disney+ has begun. With mere weeks to go before we can sit and watch any given episode from all five seasons, it’s going to be hard to know where to start. Some viewers may start at the beginning and watch straight through, others may start at the elusive season 4, and some may even cherry pick their favorites.
Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of feature articles here on ToughPigs over the coming month to help you decide.
One thing you may notice when you look at the list of guest stars is that you may not recognize every name, or you might note that some of the guests specialize in genres that you simply don’t care for. I’m here to tell you: Take a chance.
Sure, you know that Steve Martin guy. He’s wild, he’s crazy, and you enjoy him in that Three Amigos movie. And while that would be a great place to start, especially seeing as his episode is often in our Top 10, it’s certainly a safe bet. You might even go from Steve Martin to Carol Burnett to Harry Belafonte, and you’ll love every minute. But once you’re through with the Paul Simons and Mark Hamills, you’re going to be left with… the rest.
Here’s the great news. You can’t go wrong. You may not enjoy, say, country music, but if you can stomach seeing a cowboy hat or two, you’re bound to find some new favorite moments. The Roy Clark episode, for example, is one of my all-time favorites. Non-country fans don’t care about Roy Clark on his best days, but the episode features some terrific performances, hilarious moments, and Fozzie Bear trying to cover up the fact that the Muppet Theater is on fire. Just imagine missing out on that just because you throw up in your mouth a little bit when you hear a banjo strum.
A distaste for country music could also lead to missing out on multiple cloned Beakers (in the Mac Davis episode) or the show changing location to a train station (with Loretta Lynn) or just an all-around Western theme (courtesy of Roy Rogers & Dale Evans). Honestly, I’m prematurely sad for anyone who feels the need to pass on any of these gems.
How do you feel about high art? Not your bag??? Well, don’t let that force you to miss out on opera singer Beverly Sills, who sings and tap dances and hangs a spoon on her nose with Gonzo. Don’t skip on French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, who reveals Miss Piggy for faking her fluency in the French language and serenades a bunch of Muppet rats. And of course, there’s ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who is simply having a wonderful time dancing with a giant pig.
Even with our fluency in popular culture, it’s likely that you may not recognize every one of these names: Jaye P. Morgan, Elke Sommer, Victor Borge, Glenda Jackson, Mummenschanz. But I guarantee that every one of their episodes are classics, and will feature some of your new favorite Muppet moments.
Even if you’ve seen every episode, there will be a few that you or I may assume are… not good? It’s true, there are moments throughout The Muppet Show that just didn’t age well. We’ve been pretty open in our Muppet Show reviews that certain episodes are borderline cringeworthy. But even the worst of The Muppet Show has terrific moments. The Rich Little episode may feature embarrassing Muppet impressions, but it also has the debut of Gonzo’s love of chickens. The Doug Henning episode has some awful stage magic, but it also has Robin singing one of his sweetest songs. The “concert for birds” in the Liberace episode may go on for a little too long, but it also features Steve Whitmire’s first vocal performance with the Muppets. Every episode has its gem, and even the least favored episodes are worth watching to find them.
So as you’re choosing what to watch once you see that Muppet Show icon on your Disney+ app, keep these thoughts in mind. Every guest star brings something new. Keep an open mind about what you think would make a “good” viewing experience. Stretch yourself and explore new genres, because you never know what you might find yourself enjoying. And even the worst Muppet moments are still classic Muppet moments.
But okay, you can save the Rich Little episode for last.
Click here to choose wisely on the ToughPigs forum!
by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com