You’ve read all our reviews of season four of The Muppet Show, right?  It’s been a formidable undertaking, but we managed to get through the entire season, posting a review of each episode 40 years after it aired. Yet again!

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.

Now that we’ve concluded the season, I thought it would be fun to compile a bunch of those in one place to create an overview of the season.  Starting with…

MOST VALUABLE MUPPETS

This title goes to the Muppet who makes the greatest contribution to each episode. Last season, it was Miss Piggy, but this season the decisive winner was Kermit the Frog, who was named MVM four times (for the Liza Minnelli, Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, and Linda Lavin episodes), and co-MVM for the Andy Williams episode.

That co-MVM was shared with Miss Piggy, who was also picked for the Carol Channing and John Denver episodes. Then there was a tie between Fozzie (for the Shields & Yarnell and Jonathan Winters episodes), Gonzo (for the Victor Borge and Lola Falana episodes), and Scooter (for the Lynda Carter and Anne Murray episodes).

Other characters who earned the MVM title once each:

The Bossmen (Diana Ross)
Robin (Doug Henning)
The Devil (Alan Arkin)
Astoria (Dizzy Gillespie)
Angus McGonagle (Star Wars)
The rats (Christopher Reeve)
Rowlf (Dyan Cannon)
Swedish Chef (Arlo Guthrie)
Billy the Bear (Phyllis George)
Statler and Waldorf (Beverly Sills)
MAMMA (Dudley Moore)

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

BEST JOKES

Bunsen’s hand gets turned into a dog when he pulls it from a conveyor belt.
(Andy Williams)

Kermit pleads “There must be somebody stupid enough to go out there and face that audience.” Immediately, we hear Gonzo’s signature “whoosh” sound effect as the stupidest of all of them emerges from stage right.
(Diana Ross)

After the “Jeepers Creepers” number the huge-eyed Muppet chorus girls come backstage and ask Kermit how he thought it went, and without missing a beat he responds “20/20.”
(Carol Channing)

As Fozzie tries to pull a rabbit out of his hat, he first summons a rabbi (“You was expecting the Pope, maybe?”) and a robot (“You were expecting the R2-D2, maybe?”).
(Doug Henning)

The look on Alan Arkin’s face in the cold open after he sees that his milkshake is being made by the Swedish Chef shaking a cow.

Newsman: “Not everyone on the show is turning Swedish! I for one have remained my normal self. ”

Gypsy Lady: “There is one type person unaffected by the curse.”
Newsman: “I am that type.”
Gypsy Lady: “The boring and stupid type person!”
Newsman: “Well, actually, I am starting to feel Swedish… Smorgasbord! Stockholm! Ingmar Bergman! Meatball!”
(Jonathan Winters)

Miss Piggy (to Kermit): “I just love your eyes! They’re like two ping-pong balls floating in a pond of green algae.” 
(Anne Murray)

Nurse Piggy: “You have a brother?”
Dr. Bob: “Well, I did, until he fell into a vat of molten optical glass.”
Nurse Piggy: “What happened?”
Dr. Bob: “He made a spectacle of himself!”
(Dizzy Gillespie)

Luke Skywalker: “Listen, pal. We’re on a mission. There’s no way we’re gonna be involved in any third-rate variety show.”
Kermit: “…second-rate variety show…”

Lew Zealand tries to use x-ray vision to see through a door, only for Fozzie to suddenly break through said door, making Lew believe that he’s triumphed in learning a new superpower. (Lynda Carter)

A killer sheep rams the Newsman in the back of the neck.
(Christopher Reeve)

A walrus randomly appears during Dyan Cannon’s jungle number.

Muppet food attacks the Swedish Chef. 
(Arlo Guthrie)

When the closing number, “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” reaches the line about a turkey that you know will fold, we cut to a room full of chickens singing along, and also a singing green pepper. 
(Phyllis George)

As Gonzo describes his dream act, Kermit, just as bewildered as he usually is with Gonzo’s routines, comments: “…it’s an act worthy of your talent, Gonzo.” Gonzo replies, “And of your show.” Defeated, Kermit simply responds, “Touché.”
(Lola Falana)

Detective Kermit enters a darkened dressing room to look for the murderer and we hear his internal monologue say that it’s not just the darkness that scares him, it’s the creepy music they always play.
(Liza Minnelli)

Someone tries to break the combination lock on Kermit’s bicycle! What does Scooter do to stop ‘em? “I told them the combination.” 
(Beverly Sills)

Gonzo tries to start a fistfight with a shirt, and a sleeve reaches over and knocks him over
(Victor Borge)

Kermit: “Gee, is [Dudley Moore’s musical robot MAMMA] any good?”
Dudley: “Is it any good?!”
Kermit: “Mm-hm.”
Dudley: “This is the ultimate achievement! This is man’s synthesis of science and art! This is the Sistine Chapel of innovation!”
Kermit: “It’s good, huh?”
Dudley: “It’s not bad.”

Dr. Bob: “He’s all right, he’s all right! It just looks like he was under heavy sedation.”
Janice: “He was under heavy sedation! A 50-pound box of sleeping pills fell on his head!”
Kermit: “It did not!”
Janice: “I know, but it’s my only joke!”
(Kenny Rogers)

In the cold open, Crystal Gayle asks Scooter to run lines with her. They read the script, and the dialog is the exact exchange they had moments earlier.

After “Take a Chance on Me”:
Statler: “That’s what you call a wire act.”
Waldorf: “On this show, everything’s a wire act.”
Statler: “Oh?”
Waldorf: “Yeah. You keep asking ‘wire they doing that?’” 
(Shields & Yarnell)

Kermit doesn’t know the episode is going to be a surprise birthday party for him. In the intro, when he says, “It’s going to be a wonderful show,” Piggy deadpans, “Actually, it’s not.” When he says that Zuzu Fitzwaller, the Hungarian water juggler, is ready to go on stage, she deadpans again, “No, he isn’t.”
(Linda Lavin)

Kermit’s introducing the show when Beauregard sticks his head out to say he’s not done building the set. Kermit asks, “Well, how much time do you need?” Beau does a pause, looks over his shoulder, and just answers, “Thursday.”
(John Denver)

LAMEST JOKES

“Well, rats can be fun, but cheese can be fun-do.”
(Andy Williams)

“Did you hear about the soft drink made out of acorns? It’s called… Oak-a Cola.”
(Diana Ross)

A rabbit pops up in Statler and Waldorf’s box saying “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” and Waldorf hits it on the head with a mallet. 
(Doug Henning)

Waldorf reveals that Statler safely got off the Titanic by sneaking into the “women and children’s” lifeboat.
(Alan Arkin)

Waldorf: “What are those little flying things?”
Statler: “Snowbirds.”
Waldorf: “’s no good either.” 
(Anne Murray)

Mark Hamill’s Kermit impression.

Statler: “Do you think the lobsters will share some of their popcorn with us?” 
Waldorf: “No chance! They’re too shellfish!”
(Lynda Carter)

Christopher Reeve, with his Superman strength, can’t lift Piggy because Piggy is a fat person. (Christopher Reeve)

Floyd locks Foo-Foo in a drawer instead of taking care of her.
(Dyan Cannon)

Scooter’s announces “Arthur Godfrey” instead of “Arlo Guthrie” at the top of the show.

Louis Kazagger interviews the Zucchini Brothers after they’ve won a Fred award for Best Foreign Act, and the bit devolves into uncontrolled confusion and chaos.
(Phyllis George)

Statler: “You know, Gonzo would have been perfect for that movie he was gonna star in.”
Waldorf: “What movie was that?”
Statler: “The Revenge of the Little Blue Geek.”
(Lola Falana)

When Liza Minnelli finds Kermit knocked out, she opines that she was worried he croaked. Kermit replies, “Well I tried to, but I was too weak.”

A Chinese gorilla dancing ballet act, featuring Quongo speaking awful stereotypical Chinese. (Beverly Sills)

When Gonzo tries to fight the laundry, he says “Come on now, fight like a shirt!”
(Victor Borge)

Fozzie: “Why did the duck cross the road? Because he was tied to the chicken!”
(Dudley Moore)

In a circus-themed opening number, Beauregard stands ready to give Kermit a push on the trapeze. Kermit says “Don’t push me hard!” Then when Bo says “What?” Kermit says “Push me hard!” And Bo pushes him hard. Because he just asked Kermit to clarify, and Kermit requested to be pushed hard!
(Kenny Rogers)

In Kermit’s intro, he says “Welcome again to The Muppet Show! We call it that because um, uh, well, we call it that because the whole show is just filled with Muppets!”
(Crystal Gayle)

In a “Fifteen seconds to curtain” scene, Linda Lavin asks Scooter to make her a sandwich, so he uses magic (???) to turn her into a sandwich.

John Denver sings, “Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen…”

MOST CLASSIC MOMENTS

The “Veterinarian’s Hospital” sketch in the Andy Williams episode.

Beaker singing “Feelings.”
(Diana Ross)

Carol Channing and Piggy’s duet on “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” with its great puppetry work and amazing fiddling.
(Alan Arkin)

The “Bear on Patrol” sketch in which Fozzie struggles to subdue an eight-armed crook before Link tells him to go investigate a new case of a missing octopus.
(Jonathan Winters)

Miss Piggy and a gang of leather-clad pigs singing “I Get Around” while driving their motorcycles.
(Anne Murray)

Dizzy Gillespie expresses his admiration for frogs because they can do this… and then he does his trademark inflated-cheek move.

The Star Wars gang, the Swinetrek crew and the rest of the Muppets take a sci-fi clash and turn it into a big musical number.

The Wonder Pig segment, in which Piggy transforms into a superhero.
(Lynda Carter)

“Vet’s Hospital” with Rowlf as the patient and Christopher Reeve as the doctor.

Rowlf’s “Old Dog Tray.”
(Dyan Cannon)

Gonzo’s flamenco dance overruns Fozzie’s poetry reading, and it’s everything The Muppet Show should be.
(Arlo Guthrie)

Scooter sings the name of every guest star so far to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.”
(Phyllis George)

Gonzo sings “My Way.”
(Lola Falana)

Gonzo first hangs a spoon from his nose.
(Beverly Sills)

“Macho Man,” a song that was less than a year old when this episode was produced, is performed by Link, Gonzo, and a whole bunch of pigs and chickens. 
(Victor Borge)

“Coconut,” in which Kermit’s nurses, doctor, and hospital room gradually transform into a jungle.
(Kenny Rogers)

Muppet Labs’ Banana Sharpener!
(Crystal Gayle)

John Denver and the Muppets sing “Grandma’s Feather Bed.”

COOLEST PUPPETRY EFFECTS

Kermit sitting on the stool and singing with Andy Williams.

When Fozzie pulls rabbits out of his hat, the rabbits literally shoot out of the hat like a cannon.
(Doug Henning)

A caterpillar sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” while walking in a rainstorm, and all ten of his legs move in sync with each other.
(Jonathan Winters)

Scooter and a few other Muppets spend much of an episode gliding along on skateboards.
(Anne Murray)

The full-bodied puppets during “Six-String Orchestra.”
(Star Wars)

The giant chicken (played by an actual chicken) in the Wonder Pig sketch.(Lynda Carter)

When Foo Foo brings Piggy her autographed picture of Christopher Reeve, the real dog goes down the spiral steps and emerges from the last turn as a puppet. 
(Christopher Reeve)

A piece of very effective puppet blocking: When Fozzie tells the audience this is a show that Kermit said couldn’t be done, the camera cuts to a shot of several Muppets standing in the wings, with Kermit perfectly framed behind them backstage. He’s the center of our focus but we don’t see more of the puppet than we’re supposed to. 
(Phyllis George)

As Kermit ascends the stairs to Liza Minnelli’s dressing room, Liza watches his steps until he’s in frame. But there’s no way Kermit actually walked up all those stairs – Liza simply moves her head to mimic watching him do this. 
(Liza Minnelli)

Gonzo’s reflection in “Act Naturally” is played by a second Gonzo puppet, and they didn’t need to do any split-screen trickery at all. 
(Victor Borge)

Jim Henson makes us believe Kermit is hobbling around on crutches. 
(Kenny Rogers)

In the number “It’s Lonely at the Top,” sung by a giant gorilla atop the Empire State Building, backup vocals are provided by Whatnots in the windows, who appear appropriately tiny in proportion to the gorilla. 
(Shields & Yarnell)

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS

“The Last Time I Saw Him,” featuring a groovy bassline by Floyd.
(Diana Ross)

The medley by Kermit and Andy Williams.

Louise Gold and Jerry Nelson perform some incredible vocals on “You’re No Good.”
(Alan Arkin)

The caterpillar singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
(Jonathan Winters)

Dizzy Gillespie’s “St. Louis Blues.”

“With a Little Help From My Friends,” with a sacrificial idol rocking out on a saxophone.
(Lynda Carter)

“Disco Frog.”
(Christopher Reeve)

“Sailing Down My Golden River.”
(Arlo Guthrie)

Rowlf’s “You and I and George.”
(Phyllis George)

Gonzo’s “My Way.”
(Lola Falana)

“Copacabana,” with masterful singing, dancing, and staging.
(Liza Minnelli)

“Ten Terrific Girls.”
(Beverly Sills)

Victor Borge’s “Moonlight Sonata,” where the entire joke is that it’s boring and puts everyone to sleep, including Borge himself.

During his first musical number, Dudley Moore tells the band that he doesn’t need them by just saying, “Take five.” So they begin playing “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

“Love Lifted Me,” Kenny Rogers’s show-closing sing-along of the old gospel song.

“Take a Chance on Me,” a joyful and high-energy performance of the ABBA hit performed by birds bouncing up and down on telephone lines.
(Shields & Yarnell)

“Garden Song.”
(John Denver)

ADULTIEST CONTENT

Diana Ross sings a song called “Love Hangover.”

A hunter asks Fozzie if he can have his rabbits. Then he opens fire in the theater to try and kill them all.
(Doug Henning)

In “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac” there’s a guy who appears to be smoking hookah. And a Whatnot who pretty prominently shakes her moneymaker.(Dizzy Gillespie)

The Super Sheep at the end of ‘Whiffenpoof Song’ straight up pulls out a gun and shoots the Wolf in the face.
(Lynda Carter)

After Beaker’s hair gets curled by a cow-milking machine, Bunsen strokes his arm and says “Why Beaker, you’re hauntingly attractive today!”
(Christopher Reeve)

“Hey Big Spender,” which always feels sleazier than you’d expect it to be. 
(Dyan Cannon)

The Swedish Chef graphically shows us how he plans to skewer a turkey.
(Arlo Guthrie)

Billy the Bear gives Fozzie a cigar. It’s an exploding one, though, so it’s fine for kids.
(Phyllis George)

Robin tells Kermit the perfect opera for him would be “Low ‘n Green.” This is an adult joke because only old people know the opera Lohengrin. 
(Beverly Sills)

Bobby Benson was arrested because he lost a lawsuit against the Tooth Fairy.
(Victor Borge)

Kermit is nude for much of the episode, and a prairie dog in Miss Piggy’s dressing is seen wearing a pair of panties on his head.
(Crystal Gayle)

After the song “Frog Kissin’”, Statler asks Waldorf if he’s ever kissed a frog before.  Waldorf says no, and then an old lady frog pops up and says, “No time like the present!” and kisses them both.
(Linda Lavin)

MOST DATED JOKES

In the Jonathan Winters episode: the “gypsy” schtick, Winters’s stereotypical Indian chief act, and a reference to Jacques Cousteau.

When Scooter says “Thanks, Chief!” Kermit responds “Some chief. Taking orders from the papoose!”
(Anne Murray)

The inclusion of the song “Disco Frog.”
(Christopher Reeve)

The opening number “Grocery Blues” has a line about how Arlo Guthrie doesn’t mind “Women’s lib” but “If a woman don’t want to go down to the store/The family ain’t gonna eat no more.”

When the cast of “Pigs in Space” is debating which sketch they should reenact for awards consideration, Dr. Strangepork suggests that all-time classic “Strangepork Takes Up Disco.”
(Phyllis George)

Gonzo’s outfit in the Lola Falana episode.

A chicken in an afro! 
(Victor Borge)

After a number in a German brewery, Statler and Waldorf have this questionable exchange:
Statler: Well, what did you think of that number?
Waldorf: I can’t talk about it.
Statler: Why not?
Waldorf: I still have relatives in Germany.
(Crystal Gayle)

Thanks to all Tough Pigs contributors who wrote reviews — Julia Gaskill, Evan G, Joe Hennes, Louie Pearlman, Ryan Roe, Matthew Soberman, Anthony Strand, and Matt Wilkie! Click here to make a spectacle of yourself on the Tough Pigs forum!

by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

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