Sunday, April 29, 2012

Greatest. Muppet. Show. Sketches. Ever.

This blog post is exactly what the title says - in a radical departure from my recent spate of politically-charged blogs about race, I'm going to post videos of my favorite Muppet Shows bits. And I'm going to let them speak for themselves, more or less. (Probably "more", because I can't resist commenting.)

One major caveat: I've only watched the first three seasons, each of which I have on DVD - the rest haven't been officially released. So, I'm omitting 40% of the show's output.

3x14: Harry Belafonte vs. Animal

I thought it would be excessive to choose more than one sketch from Harry Belafonte's episode, and chose this one arbitrarily, for the most part. Which isn't to say that the sketch itself isn't great - because it is. The "problem" is that the entire episode is probably the Muppets' very best.

2x07: "Time in a Bottle"

There's something additionally poignant about this song when you consider that a) Jim Croce, who recorded it 5 years earlier, died 3 months before it would be released as a single, and b) Jim Henson, who would die about ten years later, voices the mad scientist, who sings tragically about the inescapability of his own mortality, even as he tries desperately to escape it anyway. (Arguably, of course, both Jims have escaped death - Croce's version when to #1 posthumously, and Henson's legacy survives in the Muppets themselves.)

3x11: "Jamboree"

Gonzo is my favorite Muppet, and this song probably captures the wonder and emotional complexity of his character better than any other. (Also notable? This is one of only two songs that Frank Oz is credited with writing for the Muppets. The other, "The Rhyming Song", is purposely bad and intended as something of a joke.)

1x15: "Put Another Log on the Fire"

People often forget that the Muppets weren't originally meant to be a kid's program. In Henson's original pitch, he stresses that it's edgy and topical, and nothing like Sesame Street, an obvious resemblance - they both use Henson's Muppets - which needed to be actively and repeatedly disavowed. Instead, The Muppet Show was meant to be adult-oriented but family-friendly. And so, in the early episodes, you got sketches like this one, which were much more risqué and explicitly political. Candice Bergen is pretty badass, here, too. (And her episode is probably the best of the first season, which was, to put it kindly, uneven.)

2x13: "Something's Missing"

Interestingly, this was a UK Spot, that is a bit that was created exclusively for broadcast in Britain, where shows were mandated to be longer than in the US - and so probably wasn't even seen on this side of the Atlantic until the DVDs were released. It's incredibly sentimental and syrupy sweet. And sometimes? So am I.

I'm certain that some other spots - better spots, even - have slipped my mind, but that happens. If I ever get around to seeing the last two seasons, I may come back and update this. (Or, maybe, just create an entirely new post!)

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