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THE MUPPET SHOW
Season Two

Review by Michael Jacobson

Performers:  Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt
Creator:  Jim Henson
Audio:  Dolby Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  612 Minutes
Release Date:  August 7, 2007

“HOLD IT!  What in the pluperfect past tense was THAT?”

“The Lullaby of Birdland.”

“Well, it sounds like the bird died!”

Shows ***1/2

The Muppets are back for another round of music, mirth and mayhem!

I’m grateful for the decision to finally release this classic show in full season box sets, and The Muppet Show: Season Two is four discs’ worth of fun and frivolity.

Jim Henson’s classic creations seemed more comfortable in their second year.  Gone were lesser characters like George the Janitor, and added to the mix were the likes of Beaker and Kermit’s nephew Robin.  Frank Oz settled nicely into the full time role of Miss Piggy, and as such, the character became more distinct and endearing.

But the parade of guest stars were a real attraction, too…especially since so many of them are sadly no longer with us.  Save for The Ed Sullivan Show, I don’t know if there was a program better than this one for showcasing so many varying stars in their prime and preserving some wonderful performances for all time.

Some of my favorites include Edgar Bergen, who remains the only ventriloquist that doesn’t give me willies after having seen the movie Magic, the affable Don Knotts, the always elegant Julie Andrews, the show-stopping Bernadette Peters, the distinctly talented Lou Rawls, and the eternally young-but-old George Burns.  Although I have to say, for my money, the best sport of the year was Rudolph Nureyev, who was one of the world’s most renowned ballet artists, but was far from above kidding himself a little with the merry Muppets.

The classic bits continue, and many remain just as hysterical today as they were some thirty years ago.  I love “Veterinarian’s Hospital”, the superb soap spoof, the misadventures of “Pigs in Space”, the perplexing Swedish Chef, and of course, the ever-heckling Statler and Waldorf.  Fozzie’s attempts at jokes still bombed delightfully, and Gonzo was…well, just Gonzo.

The musical numbers were always winning, and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem remains one of the best non-band bands this side of The Archies.  Their version of “Lullaby of Birdland” will get you swinging, even if you’re sitting down!

The Muppets would ride the airwaves to success for three more years before finally turning their talents to the big screen, which is, I guess, what all TV stars secretly want to do.  But season two showed a more comfortable Muppets, building on their past while keeping one flipper firmly on the future.

Complete episodes:  Don Knotts, Zero Mostel, Milton Berle, Rich Little, Judy Collins, Nancy Walker, Edgar Bergen, Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, George Burns, Dom DeLuise, Bernadette Peters, Rudolf Nureyev, Elton John, Lou Rawls, Cleo Laine, Julie Andrews, Jaye P. Morgan, Peter Sellers, Petula Clark, Bob Hope, Teresa Brewer, John Cleese, Cloris Leachman

Video **

“You can’t beat the classics!…you can only destroy them.”

These shows look about how you would expect for a 70s program shot on video.  Decent coloring, minimal softness, and a few pieces of evidence of aging here and there, but perfectly suitable overall.

Audio **

“It’s my new act…Gonzo fiddles while George Burns!”

“Always nice to hear a joke that’s older than I am.”

The 2.0 audio mixes are fine…not a lot of dynamic range, but the musical numbers sound good.

Features **

The extras are all on the second disc, and they include The Muppets Valentine Special as aired in 1974, The Muppets on The Muppets, and Weezer and The Muppets, as the hit band takes on our favorite stars!

Summary:

It’s a gas, friends.  The Muppet Show remains for me one of the most entertaining comedy and variety shows ever produced, and this second year set offers all the proof as to why.

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