The Muppet Show: Series One


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Those of us old enough to remember a time before video recorders, used to hang about the house on a Sunday evening waiting for Kermit the Frog and his day-glo chums to bring us a slice of anarchic family entertainment.

Almost 30 years on, the frog is still fab and finally getting a DVD release. The format is simplicity itself. Set in a slightly decaying pile of a theatre, strange creatures and monsters sing, tell jokes and blow each other up for the duration of half an hour while being heckled by two old coots, Stadler and Waldorf. Each week they are joined by a "special guest," some of whom are definitely less "special" than others.

It is clear watching this that the Muppets are still in their infancy. Miss Piggy was initially played by various puppeteers, although ultimately becomes the property of Frank Oz. Gonzo (and his puppeteer Dave Goelz) hasn't quite found his niche yet and several of the characters still haven't made it from the factory. Does this matter? Not really. While Series Two developed the soapy side of things, expanding Kermit's relationship with the ranking Miss P and featuring a lot more off-stage, freewheeling interaction with the guests, Series One is still a gem.

They struggled, initially, to find guest stars for the show - though they were beating down the door in future series - and many of those in Series One were squeezing the last drop from their careers. Some, such as American soap actor Jim Nabors, were never known in the UK, while Bruce Forsyth would have been unheard of by an American audience. Five-year-old viewers didn't know who they were then and it really doesn't make any odds now. It's the mayhem that swings it and, while some of the regular slots, particularly the joke-telling houses and occasional straight piece from guests, are weaker than others this is still as charming now as it has ever been.

Standout episodes are the one with Rita Moreno (which won her a Golden Globe) and a bit of business with big birds and Brucie (a far cry from Strictly Come Dancing). If you aren't singing the Mnah Mnah song for days after watching this, you have no soul.

Reviewed on: 23 Nov 2005
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The Muppet Show: Series One packshot
Anarchic humour for TV puppets in 1976.
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Director: Philip Casson, Peter Harris

Writer: Joseph A. Bailey, Jack Burns, John Cleese, Jim Henson, Jim Henson, Don Hinkley, Jerry Juhl, Chris Langham, Marc London, David Odell, James Thurman

Starring: voices of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Eren Ozker, John Lovelady

Year: 1976

Runtime: 604 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US/UK


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