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The Muppet Show

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The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show-Title.jpg
Premiere September 5, 1976
Finale June 8, 1981
Creator Jim Henson
Network First-run syndication
Style 30-minute variety/sketch comedy
Company Henson Associates,
ATV Network
Seasons 5
Episodes 120
Origin USA

The Muppet Show is a variety/sketch comedy that aired in syndication. It was the show the first put The Muppets in the spotlight.

The concept of the program was that Kermit the Frog and his friends were trying to put on a variety show for the audience (an audience in an auditorium, entirely composed of other Muppets). Unfortunately, things never quite went according to plan, and the group was often forced to improvise, such as when Gilda Radner accidentally got superglued to her own forehead, several of the Muppets, and big plastered chunks of the theater, but had to do a tap dance number on stage in spite of this; or when a group of pigs took over the show during the Cloris Leachman episode, forcing Kermit and co. to escape and save the show.

The program was created by Jim Henson, who enjoyed the critical and popular success that the Muppets experienced on Sesame Street, but was frustrated that the Muppets had been pigeonholed as a "children's act." He wanted to create a show that would be equally enjoyed by adults.

Initially, Henson approached the major TV networks - which then consisted of ABC, CBS, and NBC - about airing the show. But while the studio executives loved Henson's work, they remained unconvinced that a puppet show would work in prime time.

Henson resisted syndicating the show, since he was worried that the program would be under-funded. Upon meeting with British syndicator Lord Lew Grade, the owner of the ATV Network (one of the franchisees of Britain's ITV network), however, Henson agreed once he realized that Grade would provide the appropriate funding for Henson and his group to do a quality production.

In the first season, under the guidance of head writer Jack Bruns, the show was mostly gag-oriented with no overarching plot. Starting in the second season, though, under the guiding force of writer Jerry Juhl, the program become more focused on character-driven stories. Also, some minor characters were dumped from Season 1 in favor of new characters as well as more emphasis on stronger characters from the first year, such as Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, and Scooter. Due to these changes, the show's popularity took off in the second season, particularly in the U.S.

Miss Piggy in particular became a breakout TV star in the 1970s. Masterfully performed by Frank Oz, the egotistical yet insecure porcine female had a massive infatuation on a certain frog. But when angered, the pig revealed a powerful karate chop. Miss Piggy's "HI-YAAAAA!!!" becomes as iconic in the 1970s as the Fonz's "Ayyyy!" Miss Piggy became something of a feminist icon, and her debut calendar in 1980 was a huge best-seller.

The show was syndicated to over a hundred countries, and in fact was the first American TV show to be broadcast in the Soviet Union. For this reason, it has been called the most successful television show of all time.

Rita Moreno won an Emmy for her appearance on the show in the first season, and the writing staff won an Emmy for their script for the episode featuring Carol Burnett in Season 5.

After five seasons, Henson decided to pull the plug, not because ratings had dropped but because he was anxious to move his creative team onto other projects, such as the fantasy films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and the children's show Fraggle Rock.

The show spawned six theatrical films, starting with 1979's The Muppet Movie, two TV-movies, and a multitude of TV specials. There were also two TV spinoffs that did air on the networks - The Jim Henson Hour and Muppets Tonight - though, ironically, these were both short-lived. The most successful spinoff, oddly enough, was an animated program: Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, which ran from 1984 to 1991 and won multiple Emmys.

The Muppet Show was produced by Henson Associates in association with ATV. While the show was originally syndicated by ITC Entertainment during its original run, Disney-ABC Domestic Television now owns the distribution rights due to parent The Walt Disney Company's ownership of the Jim Henson catalogue.

Contents

Cast

Actor Character Duration
Billed Cast
Jim Henson Kermit the Frog 1 2 3 4 5
Rolph the Dog 1 2 3 4 5
The Swedish Chef 1 2 3 4 5
Dr. Teeth 1 2 3 4 5
Waldorf 1 2 3 4 5
Frank Oz Miss Piggy 1 2 3 4 5
Fozzie Bear 1 2 3 4 5
Sam the Eagle 1 2 3 4 5
Animal 1 2 3 4 5
Richard Hunt Miss Piggy 1
Scooter 1 2 3 4 5
Beaker 1 2 3 4 5
Janice 2 3 4 5
Statler 1 2 3 4 5
Dave Goelz Gonzo 1 2 3 4 5
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew 1 2 3 4 5
Zoot 1 2 3 4 5
Jerry Nelson Camilla 1 2 3 4 5
Sgt. Floyd Pepper 1 2 3 4 5
Eren Ozker Janice 1
Steve Whitmire Lips 5

Seasons

Season Premiere Finale #
Syndication
Season One September 5, 1976 April 23, 1977 24
Season Two September 30, 1977 April 23, 1978 30
Season Three November 17, 1978 March 9, 1979 18
Season Four November 2, 1979 April 4, 1980 23
Season Five October 5, 1980 March 22, 1981 25

In-Depth

DVD Releases

Title Release Date #
Season Sets
Season One: Special Edition August 9, 2005 4 purchase
Season Two August 7, 2007 4 purchase
Season Three May 20, 2008 4 purchase
Season Four 2010 4
'Best Of' Collections
The Best Of: Elton John, Julie Andrews, Gene Kelly July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Mark Hamill, Paul Simon, Raquel Welch July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Harry Belafonte, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Peter Sellers, John Cleese, Dudley Moore July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Alice Cooper, Vincent Price, Marty Feldman July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Steve Martin, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: George Burns, Dom DeLuise, Bob Hope July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Diana Ross, Brooke Shields, Rudolph Nureyev July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: James Coburn, Sylvester Stallone, Debbie Harry July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Roger Moore, Edgar Bergen, Danny Kaye July 17, 2001 1
The Best Of: Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Kenny Rogers, Mac Davis October 3, 2002 1
The Best Of: Liberace, Rita Moreno, Lynda Carter October 3, 2002 1
The Best Of: Tony Randall, Beverly Sills, Pearl Bailey October 3, 2002 1
The Best Of: Liza Minnelli, Madeline Kahn, Mummenschanz October 3, 2002 1
The Best Of: Señor Wences, Lola Falana, Juliet Prowse October 3, 2002 1

External Sites