Who isn’t a big fan of the Muppets? From their beginnings on Sesame Street at the end of the sixties through the classic The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock to the more recent movies, they’ve been keeping us laughing for ages!
Today I want to concentrate on what I consider to be the Muppets at their best by talking about The Muppet Show.
The Muppet Show ran for five years from 1976 to 1981 and clocked up 120 episodes in that time. During this time the regular characters such as Kermit the Frog, the karate chopping Miss Piggy and the struggling comedian Fozzie Bear became household names, and are still well known today despite not being on TV regularly any more.
The show was conceived by Muppet’s creator Jim Henson, who was beginning to feel typecast for his work on Sesame Street and wanted to do something to appeal to all the family. He came up with the idea of the Muppets putting on a variety show from a theatre, a form of entertainment that was still popular back in the Seventies but which has become much rarer these days on television.
The format worked brilliantly, with comedy sketches and songs featuring a wide array of Muppet characters and also that weeks guest star. The Muppet Show became the one programme that real life stars wanted to be on, much like The Simpsons has been in more recent years.
There were so many brilliant bits to look forward to each week. My favourite was undoubtedly Pigs in Space (or Piiiiiigs Iiiiiiin Spaaaaace, to give it it’s proper title!) but I also liked Muppet Labs with Dr Bunsen Honeydew and the ever put upon Beaker. Veterinarians Hospital was usually fun too, if only for the end when Rowlf, Piggy and Janice would look around to find out where the narrator’s voice was coming from.
The Muppet Show has proved incredibly popular right around the world, and I think one of the reasons for this is down to it’s production. It always felt partly American thanks to the array of guest stars who were primarily from the US, but as it was filmed in the UK something British must have worked its way into the mix, as it also felt partly home grown too. Perhaps this is why the more recent attempt at bringing the format back, in the form of Muppets Tonight, didn’t work quite so well?
I’ll finish off by leaving you with the “most sensational, inspirational” Muppet Show intro. I’m sure you all remember the words and music, don’t you?