“My six-year-old loves the jokes, and runs around the house singing the songs!”
In line at Best Buy, that’s what the mom behind me was saying this morning, still half in disbelief that she was buying yet another season of these 30-year-old TV programs. And to me, that one sentence sums it all up. “The Muppet Show” offers comedy that appeals to all ages — most episodes include MuppetLabs, Pigs in Space, Swedish Chef or other recurring skits — as well as wonderful old ditties and show tunes that are themselves often staged with a sly sense of humor.
This third season is perhaps the best of all. Digitally remastered like those on the earlier Season One and Season Two sets, these 24 shows from 1978-1979 are the Muppets at their peak. Hosts include a broad range of personalities, from rocker Alice Cooper to Irish comedian Spike Milligan.
And good news for music lovers: unlike Season Two, this set includes its song lyrics in its captioning!
Here’s the complete line-up:
EPISODE 1: Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. Nothing dated here except the blow-dried hair of Kristofferson, who can’t keep a straight face as he serenades Miss Piggy with “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Coolidge sings “We’re All Alone.” When Sam the Eagle adds commentary to Rowlf’s “A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go,” his insights include “This shows us that there was indeed a time when frogs went ‘woo.’” Fozzie and Rowlf do a rousing version of “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me).”
EPISODE 2: Leo Sayer. Has Kermit got a new girlfriend? Piggy thinks so, after starlet pig Annie Sue shows up. Meanwhile, the very-70s Sayer boogies down with a human-sized peacock as he sings “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.” Other songs: “The Show Must Go On,” “When I Need You.”
EPISODE 3: Roy Clark. With silk shirts and very wide lapels, the country star declares he feels like he’s “back on the farm.” Ah, the 70s. Songs include the bouncy “Sally Was a Good Ol’ Girl” and the oh-so-serious “Yesterday When I Was Young.” In skits, the Swedish Chef gets attacked by a pile of living dough, while the Pigs in Space helplessly bounce up and down after Dr. Strangepork fixes the Swinetrek with toaster parts.
EPISODE 4: Gilda Radner. Terrific! A 7-foot-tall talking carrot (with an attitude!) joins Radner in a medley of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” and other selections from “The Pirates of Penzance.” Stuck to Beaker with MuppetLabs super glue, Radner attempts “Tap Your Troubles Away” from “Mack & Mabel.” Muppet numbers include a terrific version of “Lullaby of Broadway.” Confusing the word “Muppets” with “muffins,” Emily Litella opens the show.
EPISODE 5: Pearl Bailey. The host does a great job with “In the Good Old Summertime” and a medley of show tunes including “Hello, Dolly!,” “Anything You Can Do” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” In skits, Dr. Honeydew invents Edible Paperclips, while the Pigs in Space turn into food when their Swinetrek passes through a field of Snacko Waves.
EPISODE 6: Jean Stapleton. Annie Sue leads the pigs in the rowdy 1917 Brazilian classic “Tico-Tico no Fubá” (“tico tico tico clock!”) and joins Rowlf for the 19th-century ditty “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow Wow.” Best known as Edith from “All in the Family,” the host sings “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” joins Fozzie for Irving Berlin’s 1914 standard, “Play a Simple Melody” and shocks Sam with the news that the Swedish Chef doesn’t speak real Swedish.
EPISODE 7: Alice Cooper. Cheesy effects, silly makeup and bad lip-synching mar the host’s supposedly serious productions of “Welcome to My Nightmare,” “You and Me” and “School’s Out.” The worst show of the season.
EPISODE 8: Loretta Lynn. One of the few Muppet Shows that doesn’t take place in the regular theater, this country-music show is set in a train station. Songs include “You’re Lookin’ at Country” (Loretta with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers) and “Sentimental Journey” (Gonzo).
EPISODE 9: Liberace. Chaos reigns when Gonzo tries to get his tap-dancing chickens into a Liberace spectacular. Also included: a Swedish Chef sketch that turns into an episode of Pigs in Space.
EPISODE 10: Marisa Berenson. The Swedish Chef makes the wedding cake as Miss Piggy and Kermit head to the altar. Of course things don’t work out. A 1960s model turned actress (“Cabaret,” “Barry Lyndon”), Berenson sings two songs.
EPISODE 11: Raquel Welch. Miss Piggy and Welch don identical low-cut gowns to perform “I Am Woman.” Also features a good Swedish…
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* Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
* Leo Sayer
* Roy Clark
* Gilda Radner
* Pearl Bailey
* Jean Stapleton
* Alice Cooper
* Loretta Lynn
* Marisa Berenson
* Raquel Welch
* James Coco
* Helen Reddy
* Harry Belafonte
* Lesley Ann Warren
* Danny Kaye
* Spike Milligan
* Leslie Uggams
* Elke Sommer
* Sylvester Stallone
* Roger Miller
* Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
* Lynn Redgrave
* Cheryl Ladd
“The Muppet Show – Season Three” DVD Features:
* 24 episodes of “The Muppet Show” – The complete third season with digitally restored picture and sound!
* Muppets on Puppets
In June of 1968, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl and Don Sahlin traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania to tape a program about puppetry at the studios of public television station WITF-TV. This show, “Muppets on Puppets” aired on NET (National Educational Television – the precursor to PBS) in most areas in 1970. This rarely seen one-hour program, hosted by Jim Henson and Rowlf the Dog, is a unique opportunity to see the creators of the Muppets in their early days as puppeteers.
* “A Frog Is Born” – An all-new featurette exploring the origins of Kermit the Frog and his relationship with creator, Jim Henson.
* A Company of Players
An intimate look behind the scenes with the puppeteers. This original featurette includes all-new interviews with Martin Baker, Bill Barretta, Kevin Clash, Bonnie Erickson, Karen Falk, Michael K. Frith, Amy van Gilder, Dave Goelz, Jane Gootnick, Jerry Juhl, Brian Henson, Kathy Mullen, and Steve Whitmire.
* Muppet Commercials
Rowlf the Dog made his television debut in these rare commercials produced for Purina Dog Chow between 1962 and 1963. Rowlf went on to become a national star on “The Jimmy Dean Show” (1963-1966) before settling into his role as the resident piano-playing hound dog on “The Muppet Show”. His sidekick in these spots, Baskerville, also was occasionally seen on “The Muppet Show” as well. Four original commercials are presented here
Each disc features fun interactive menus hosted by Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
The opening screen shows Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in front of The Muppet Show logo from the beginning of each episode just as it looks when Kermit appears out of the O with the words season 3 added . Episode selection shows the Muppet Theater stage with 3 lit up arches with each episode in each arch. The Muppet audience looks on. The Set Up menu shows Miss Piggy inside her dressing room and the bonus features menu shows The Muppet Theater Backstage Right.
Same reaction to this one as the other sets; I had forgotten over the years what a fantastic program this was. Stellar guests stars, family-style humor, and creativity that is rarely seen today. This 3rd Season set is no exception. Standout guest stars include Gilda Radner, Pearl Bailey, Jean Stapleton, Loretta Lynn, Liberace (!), Raquel Welch, Helen Reddy, Sylvester Stallone, Danny Kaye, Harry Belafonte, Lesley Ann Warren, Lynn Redgrave, Roy & Dale, Cheryl Ladd, and more. Unlike other variety shows, these guest stars genuinely seem to be having a ball and enjoying themselves. Cheryl Ladd’s episode turned out to be one of my favorites; known mainly for “Charlie’s Angels,” she shows plenty of talent in singing & dancing (even more so than the somewhat stiff Raquel Welch). Her karate duet with Miss Piggy (“I Enjoy Being A Girl”) is adorable. Jean Stapleton shows that she can carry a tune better than her famous character Edith Bunker; Gilda Radner also has a pleasing musical voice.
The Bonus Features are fantastic; “Muppets on Puppets” is a one-hour black & white TV show from 1968 that is a VERY behind the scenes look at puppets/muppets; the different types, how to make them work, how to create them, and even a “behind the wall” look at Jim Henson & Frank Oz performing. Adults will really enjoy this; warning for parents who don’t want children know how the “magic” happens, you may want to skip over this extra. Interesting to see Henson’s flat-line persona in contrast to his extremely creative handling/vocals for the muppets.
“A Company of Players” is a present day featurette that also goes behind the scenes; VERY cool to learn about how Miss Piggy came to be (especially the “why” behind her infamous karate chops!) and the way that Frank Oz & Jim Henson worked together (likened to any famous comedy duo). The happy camaraderie in front of the camera also existed behind the scenes.
The Purina Dog Chow commercials are black and white featuring Rowlf the Dog & Baskerville; they are truly funny (still!). What they lack in picture quality, they make up for in fun. Sure is refreshing to see a simple commercial that can sell the message.
Overall picture/sound quality on this set is high; many older shows shot on videotape have not held up over the years; this one IS an exception. Good color and image detail (you can even see the wood grain on the set doors), and the sound is pleasing also.
For families, children, and Muppet fans, this set is a must-have!