The Muppets. Who doesn't know who they are? They've been a staple of our youth, from Sesame Street in the late 60's to the present day with programs such as the short-lived “Muppets Tonight” to movies such as “Muppets Christmas Carol” or “Muppet Treasure Island”. This first season of TV shows hails back to 1976 (I was 5!!) and was produced in England as for whatever reason, the US didn't think it was going to be popular as such - how wrong can you be?From the mind of Jim Henson, who brought us Farscape, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, the Muppets were his first well known and popular creation. I was astounded to realise that this year is the 50th (yes 50th) anniversary of Kermit the Frog! 5 Decades of Muppet mayhem has been brought to us and I think it's fair to say that no-one would or could ever find them anything other that cute and endearing. It's also true that the Muppets are more adult oriented over the Sesame Street characters, which are more for the kids.
The premise of each “episode” is that the Muppets are putting on a variety show in the theatre that Scooter's uncle owns. Each show/programme features a very special guest star, which in this box set varies from Twiggy to Vincent Price, although in fairness there are not that many well known special guests in this particular season - but in later seasons we get stars such as Steve Martin and Roger Moore. Each show has its musical numbers and so forth, but we have the regular staples from Fozzie Bear and his comedic genius, the Swedish Chef making something in his kitchen, Gonzo never actually having or indeed finishing his act, Statler and Waldorf heckling anything and everything and Miss Piggy being the prima donna that she always is. However, in this season we also have one of the all time classic Muppet moments - Mahna Mahna! Ahhhhh who could forget the Snowths singing this?
Indeed, this may arguably be best to watch as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but it's also great fun to watch even if it's your first time around - because there isn't really anything else like it to compare it too. Sure Henson had Sesame Street before this and various puppet-orientated shows and movies after it, but this is to my knowledge the only variety show of its ilk, until the previously mentioned Muppets Tonight (Which I wish would appear on DVD also!) appeared, which attracted some huge stars, from Prince to Sandra Bullock and Cindy Crawford! I think my favourite episode from this series is the Vincent Price one, but then there are some classic or very good moments through this first season, as I said, it does feature Mahna Mahna. The one thing I didn't remember or recall, was that the opening sequence changed after this season to the “archways” one - I initially thought something was amiss, but thanks to the trivia track, I learnt of my mistake - and on the subject of the trivia track (quickly) it's superb. One minor point, don't expect all your classic Muppet stuff - Pigs In Space for starters didn't appear until Season 2 and you'll notice that Miss Piggy isn't played initially by Frank Oz in the early episodes. But there's still plenty of moments that you'll remember, even if it is Murph and the Muppetones.
As you may tell, I am a bit of a Muppet fan, indeed I used to go by the moniker “Sadmuppet” - the Muppets were a huge facet of my early childhood, watching the show every Sunday around 5pm, just before the evil known as Bullseye started. The only slight disappointment is I probably only remember about 2 of the 24 episodes. Having said that, with all the Great Gonzo, Animal and Swedish Chef moments, to Crazy Harry just exploding things this should appeal to youngsters as well as those who remember this from their childhood too.
Our Review Ethos