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BEST OF THE MUPPET SHOW
Featuring Mark Hamill, Paul Simon and Raquel Welch

Review by Michael Jacobson

Muppet Performers:  Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt
Creator:  Jim Henson
Audio:  Dolby Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  80 Minutes
Release Date:  September 3, 2002

“And now, a Muppet news flash…here are the results of today’s National Sheepdog Trials:  all sheepdogs were found not guilty…”

Shows ***1/2

The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational variety show of the 70s is back…and no, I’m not talking about Bonkers.

The Muppet Show continues its trek onto DVD from Columbia Tri Star with another volume of three complete shows featuring three unforgettable guest stars.

Mark Hamill, one of the all time great sports, kids himself and all things Star Wars as he takes a turn at himself AND his “cousin” Luke Skywalker in one of the all time fan favorite episodes.  The Muppet Theatre is turned upside down as Luke and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) take control of “Pigs in Space” and the starship Swine Trek in search of Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), who has been kidnapped by you-know-who!  Then again, maybe you don’t…

The second show features Paul Simon and his indelible music, and is noteworthy for being the only episode to feature all songs by one writer.  Simon plays some favorites nicely, including “Scarborough Fair” and “Loves Me Like a Rock”, while the Electric Mayhem take their own turn at “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”.  Paul seems a tad uncomfortable in his starring role, and the laughs aren’t as plentiful as normal, but the music is a definite plus.

One star who seemed VERY comfortable on the show was Raquel Welch…her appearance marked probably my own all time favorite entry in the series.  Her first number, “You Send Me”, features her in an unbelievably enticing outfit that frankly was far too much stimuli for my young mind when it first aired.  Frankly, I don’t think I ever fully recovered!  That episode was also famous for Ms. Welch’s duet with Miss Piggy, as the two radiant stars belt out “Woman”.

Of course, no matter how big the guest stars, the Muppets never played second fiddle on their own show!  The affable Kermit continued to maintain his frail managerial grasp as Fozzie spewed forth his bad jokes, Statler and Waldorf heckled, and Gonzo did…well, what Gonzo does.

The Muppet Show will always be one of television’s most imaginative, funny and entertaining offerings in my book…these three classic episodes say all there is to say about why.

Video ***

Considering the age of the shows and the videotape source, The Muppet Show has held up pretty well.  There are a few noticeable tape limitations here and there (a light line or two visible against the red curtains), but overall, the colors come across with integrity, the detail level is pretty good, and there is no grain or compression to interfere with the presentation.  Fans should be satisfied.

Audio **

The original audio tracks aren’t much…in fact, you may have to click your volume up a notch or two, but once you do, it should be smooth sailing.  Dynamic range is flat…you can tell when music builds or other scenes get busy…but dialogue is generally well rendered, and I didn’t notice any distracting noise.

Features **1/2

The disc includes a couple of fun features…one bit of Muppet trivia, a “Muppets Tonight” promotional short with Miss Piggy, and bonus trailers for other Muppet related videos available from CTHE.  There is also a Yoda screen test (a scream), plus Brian Henson’s introductions to all three episodes.

Summary:

The Muppet Show once staked a proud claim in prime time…now, it can stake the same in your collection.  This Best Of disc features three fun and complete original episodes, and marks a good way for you to introduce your children to Jim Henson’s magical vision.