The Muppet Show: 40 Years Later – Julie Andrews

Published: February 23, 2018
Categories: Feature, Reviews

Original Air Date: February 20, 1978

I’m about to say something completely revolutionary, something that you definitely haven’t heard us say 1,000,000 times before on ToughPigs – The Muppets are not for kids.

Shocking, I know. But this is something that we’ve struggled with conveying to our casual readers for years, and something that I’m sure Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, and the rest of the team struggled with for most of their careers. And while you could say that Sesame Street – with its educational goals and gentler intent – was for kids, the Muppets and especially The Muppet Show was decidedly not for kids. At many times, it wasn’t even meant for families. It was for the grown-ups. And the Julie Andrews episode provides a great example of that.

Consider “I Whistle a Happy Tune.” This song from The King and I was sung by Grover on Sesame Street in 1970, and even though that number is spookier than your usual Sesame fare, it’s not really scary, per se. But the Muppet Show version? Creeps City! Those monsters look like they want to straight-up eat Julie. And that’s something I miss about the classic Muppet Show era – the danger. There was a real mystery as to whether or not a guest star could get killed, maimed, or worse. A Sesame Street sketch wouldn’t attempt to get away with this level of uncertainty towards the final fate of its guest star, but the Muppets sure could, and often did.

All in all, Julie absolutely shines in this episode. She pulls out a song she wrote for Kermit in her special My Favorite Things – the aptly title “Song for Kermit (When You Were a Tadpole),” and that sweet moment between her and Mr. The Frog is worth the price of admission alone. But being the queen of performing that she is (or Dame, as it were), she breathes life into every performance throughout the episode and makes it truly iconic.

And speaking of icons – how about that cow? Ya heard of cows? Well this one is a top-choice, grade-A bovine! And it exists backstage for no reason than to play around with the Muppets. And I am all here for it. Every turn with the cow turns into comedy gold.

So what’re you waiting for? Go watch the Julie Andrews episode of The Muppet Show again! Marvel at the cow! Bask in Julie Andrews greatness! And remember – they’d never do this stuff just for a bunch of kids!

Best Joke: Kermit wants to know who the cow belongs to. So naturally, Scooter asks the cow, “Who do you belong to?” Which makes perfect sense! Why wouldn’t a cow on The Muppet Show answer a question when asked?

Worst Joke: Muppet Newsflash, in which a falling bowling ball lands on the Newsman’s head, fell flat for me this week (pun intended). Not bad, just boring.

MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): Kermit really shines in this episode. You can see how much he truly loves Julie, to the point where adding in a jealous Miss Piggy would’ve been a huge mistake, and I’m glad they avoided that. Even she could see there was true love between these two.

Most Classic Moment: Bunsen & Beaker’s Hair-Growing Tonic is a pretty iconic edition of Muppet Labs, used in many best-of clips as well as 2011’s The Muppets – even with its predictable ending, which they pulled off very well. Although why didn’t the bald guy try the hair tonic? I would’ve really enjoyed seeing that flip for once.

Most Musical Moment: Man, “When You Were a Tadpole” is so beautifully done. I just loved that piece, and the way Kermit looks so small and safe nestled against Julie. Such a good moment.

One More Thing: I died laughing at the reveal of the Chef’s chalk outlines on the cow.

Okay, One More One More Thing: And Kermit’s request that Scooter “erase the cow.” What a perfectly Muppety line.

Click here to Whistle a Happy Tune (Even if you are afraid) on the ToughPigs forum!

by Matt Wilkie


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