Original air date: May 22, 1970

Where do I begin to tell the story of how great The Muppet Show can be? The sweet Muppet story that is older than the sea. The simple truth about the love all things Henson brings to me. Where do I start? With Kermit’s first –

Ah, okay, I’m being told it’s not cool if I just parody the entire song ‘Where Do I Begin’ instead of writing an actual review of Andy Williams’ episode of The Muppet Show. Right. I guess that makes sense. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

I guess here’s where I’ll begin when it comes to this episode: I think Andy Williams’ is an underrated guest star. Sure, he might not make any top ten lists, but there’s something so hammy and fun about his performance. This episode isn’t the most memorable – oddly enough, the only sketch from this entire episode I could remember going into my rewatch of it was Veterinarian’s Hospital – but that’s not due to Williams. He has a good time playing off of the Muppets, and the way he laughs his weird laugh after delivering a pun is so endearing.

My favorite part of this entire episode is, aptly, ‘Where Do I Begin’. This number just works so well: the seriousness and professionalism Williams gives in his performance, while Piggy and Kermit do their silly little chase in the background. The juxtaposition of the song and the humor is delightful, and of course it’s only a matter of time before Piggy gets involved in the singing.

This is also a fun Kermit and Piggy episode. Piggy goes around telling everyone she and Kermit are engaged, even though it’s clear from the get go that they’re not. Piggy’s unapologetic need to have the theme to Love Story be the new number, which includes threatening to dismember Beau and Beaker, is brash and very Piggy-like. Kermit then spends the rest of the episode being grumpy at Piggy (if ever people complain about Kermit being mean in this day and age, just show them this episode), even going as far as trying to karate chop her – only of course he fails and Piggy has to show him how it’s actually done.

My other favorite bit in this episode is a small one, but it’s still a lot of fun. In a backstage moment, Kermit asks Sam, “Why do you do this?” and then inquires about the state of Sam’s family. Sam relinquishes such information as his wife left him (he forgot her name), he’s got children (who never write) – a son (who studies taxidermy) and a daughter (who’s dating an owl). It’s a brief bit, but Frank’s performance of Sam really nails it. His disgust at his children’s lifestyles, his absentmindedness about his wife, and his determination to fix The Muppet Show are all mashed up into this funny moment between the eagle and the frog.

The rest of the episode is good, as all Muppet Show episodes are, but doesn’t stand out quite as much. There are great ongoing cheese puns and singing cheese backstage, all of which I really would’ve liked to see lead into a number with Andy Williams or something. Veterinarian’s Hospital in this is great and is the one I think that comes to mind for many when they think of this ongoing bit, as it drops references to such things as Looney Tunes, Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland, Hunchback of Notre Dome, and more. There are some Andy Williams puppets, Fozzie sings an unfortunately forgettable opening number, and Muppet Labs is funny and zany as usual. Williams and Kermit share a great moment where the guest encourages Kermit to embarrass him, and then immediately turns on Kermit the moment he does so.

While this episode might not jump to everyone’s mind right away, it’s a fun one that has good music, great moments, and a wonderful guest star. And THAT’S where I begin!

Best Joke: As much as I love the continual string of fictional character puns in Veterinarian’s Hospital, I think the best joke is when Bunsen’s hand gets turned into a dog when he pulls it from the conveyor belt.

Lamest Joke: “Well rats can be fun, but cheese can be fun-do.”

MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): A Miss Piggy and Kermit tie. Piggy dominates the first half of the episode, manipulating the show to go her way, and Kermit takes the cake for the second half with his grumpiness and conversation with Andy.

Most Classic Moment: Veterinarian’s Hospital, since this is the one I think of first when it comes to this ongoing sketch.

Should-Be-Classic Moment: Sam talking about his family!

First Appearance Of… While not his first appearance, this is the episode where Rizzo the Rat was first given his name!

Coolest Puppetry Effect: Kermit sitting on the stool and singing with Andy Williams. While it looks like Kermit is without anyone under and operating him, the show actually had a set up of mirrors for the camera and Jim Henson was crouched behind said mirrors to deliver the scene.

Musical Highlight: As much as I love the humor (and performance) of ‘Where Do I Begin’, the Medley Kermit and Andy Williams sing together is wonderful.

Missed Opportunity: Honestly, I’m still surprised Andy Williams didn’t sing a number with those cheeses.

Obscure Character Watch: The Andy Williams puppets, never to be seen again.

One More Thing… Gaffer is the unnamed cat (who gets turned into a tiger) in the Muppet Labs sketch, though he isn’t wearing his eye patch in it.

Okay, One More Thing… Andy Williams is one of a small group of Muppet Show guest stars to have a likeness of himself made in Muppet form. Others include Paul Williams, Connie Stevens, and Juliet Prowse – all of whom appeared in season 1 while Andy Williams was in season 4. Stevens and Prowse’s Muppets were presented at the ends of their episodes as parting gifts, whereas both Williams (Andy and Paul) sang with multiple versions of their likenesses in segments meant for the show.

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by Julia Gaskill

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