THE BEST OF THE MUPPET SHOW
Featuring Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Dudley Moore, and
Featuring Harry Belafonte, Linda Ronstadt and John Denver
Review by Michael Jacobson
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 Each
Release Date: March 4, 2003
you have any requests?”
But you gonna play anyway!”
happy to see Columbia Tri Star continuing to roll out The Best of the Muppet
Show, returning these late 70s gems to their full running time and with
guest star spots intact. Watching
these programs is a terrific stroll down memory lane, with great music, plenty
of laughs, and of course, the enduring charm of Jim Henson’s wonderful puppet
they aren’t specifically labeled as such, most DVD selling sites refer to
these releases as Volumes 3 and 4, which we will also do in order to avoid
conclusion. The third volume is an
English comedy funfest, featuring Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Dudley Moore,
while the fourth edition celebrates some terrific musical artists including
Harry Belafonte, Linda Ronstadt and John Denver.
the Peter Sellers episode was a bit surprising…not because he wasn’t great
as a guest star; his chameleon personality offered plenty of good comic
possibilities for the show. I was
surprised instead at Sellers’ finale about “cigareets and whiskey and wild,
wild women”, which must have left a few parents having to answer some
questions! But this episode also
boasts one of the show’s most memorable offerings, as Kermit pines “It’s
Not Easy Being Green”.
Cleese, who would later return for a cameo in The Great Muppet Caper, has
a bit of fun playing a pirate in “Pigs in Space” (“one more word out of
you and you’ll be an EX-parrot!”), plus being forced to sing a song from
“Man of La Mancha” at the end. And
if Peter Sellers’ song inspired a few unanticipated questions from the kids,
imagine their response to Miss Piggy’s song about being jilted at the alter
while appearing on stage in a pregnant get-up!
Moore’s appearance is the real highlight of the third volume, as The Muppet
Show provided a good showcase for both his comical and musical talents.
He brings along a robot to accompany his piano playing, which doesn’t
quite sit well with the Muppet band!
fourth volume, as mentioned, is musically oriented, and begins with one of the
true all-time great installments of the show.
Harry Belafonte is a great entertainer and a class act, and seems to be
having a great time as he belts out “The Banana Boat Song” with the help of
some over-zealous Muppets, plays an impressive and funny drum duet with Animal,
and delivers a perfect, inspiring finale with “Turn the World Around”, which
was so good, it played through the end credits instead of the normal closing
second show brings Linda Ronstadt into the mix, sporting a short and sassy
hairstyle. Her presence doesn’t
set well with the jealous Miss Piggy, who concocts a rather dubious plan to keep
Kermit away from her! Ms.
Ronstadt’s rousing musical numbers include her hit “Blue Bayou” (which I
may never listen to again without hearing the “ribbits”, and a showstopping
version of “It’s in His Kiss”. Take
finale is another truly classic episode, featuring the late great John Denver.
His beautiful “Inch by Inch” is memorable, as is his finale on the
overstuffed bed. Meanwhile, Kermit and John have some troubles convincing the
other Muppets to go with them on a camping trip…to the swamp!
This show is only marred by the opening number which is in questionable
taste; a rendering of “Why Can’t We Be Friends” on a surprisingly volatile
far, The Best of the Muppet Show discs have highlighted some of the best
guest stars on the show, which is terrific.
In the future, though, I’m hoping to see more of the best bits of the
Muppets themselves, including more Veterinarian’s Hospital, the
“Manuh-Manuh” number, the “Coconut” song and others.
But with a wealth of treasures to choose from, one can still assume that
these discs will continue to bring back fond memories and fun for as long as
they continue to be released!
five years can murder on anything recorded on video…that being said, the
Muppets still look pretty good for their age.
Their colors still come across quite well, but as with most videotapes,
images are sometimes a bit soft, and sometimes show the limitation of the medium
in terms of a little haziness. No
major strikes, however…fans should be satisfied.
mono soundtracks offer as much as you can expect: clear dialogue, nice sounding music, but minimal dynamic
range and nothing to really challenge your system.
Even Crazy Harry’s explosions seem a bit subdued, but again, no real
extras are light but fun. Each disc
features a Muppet movie moment, with Kermit’s take on The Godfather and
hilarious auditions for A Streetcar Named Desire…you haven’t lived
til you’ve heard Animal screaming “STELLA!!”.
Each disc also includes a “Muppetism”, one featuring Statler and
Waldorf, the other Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. Finally, Brian Henson personally introduces each episode with
a juicy tidbit or two.