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Case Number 03995

Buy Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 6 at Amazon

Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 6

Sony // 1976 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 2nd, 2004

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Best Of The Muppet Show: Volumes 1 and 2 (published October 21st, 2002), Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 5 (published March 2nd, 2004), Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 7 (published April 27th, 2004), Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 3 (published March 19th, 2003), and Best Of The Muppet Show: Volume 4 (published March 19th, 2003) are also available.

The Charge

"Boonter, gloonter, veenter, hoonter!" -The Swedish Chef

Opening Statement

Here it is, another dose of nostalgia in felt, The Muppet Show. We have another offering of The Best of the Muppet Show, released in volumes, to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary.

Each disc contains three episodes of the classic variety show that broke new ground in the puppet genre. And you can't get more "variety" than this, what with the song and dance routines, the sketches, and the endless assortment of one-liners.

Facts of the Case

At first considered too offbeat, The Muppet Show initially had a tough go attaining celebrities to host. Yet as time went on and the show's popularity grew, Jim Henson and company found their little exercise in puppets cracking wise and belting out show-tunes a nexus for all the big names. From Steve Martin to Carol Burnett to Gilda Radner, all across the spectrum, the A-list of actors at that time found their way to Kermit's dressing room, trading barbs with Gonzo the Great, or taking roundhouses from Miss Piggy.

With this volume, Columbia TriStar spotlights three episodes from the 1976 and 1977 seasons, starring Bob Hope, Dom Deluise, and George Burns. Here's what you'll find on these shows:

George Burns
The cigar-chomping zinger-maestro swings by. However, he picked a bad time to host as a tabloid reporter is on the prowl looking to excavate whatever dirt he can on the goings-on backstage. While Kermit frantically tries to neutralize the situation, Gonzo's developed an affinity for fiddling that becomes incessant. Kermit's attempts at deep-sixing the annoying reporter end in futility, even when The Swedish Chef gets interviewed (and in a very funny line, Kermit notes that he has nothing to worry about, as the Chef spouts incoherent mumblings); alas, the reporter too speaks the Chef's jargon dialect! But the show must go on, and Burns launches into some old vaudevillian routines, with the help of Rowlf the piano-laying canine.

Dom Deluise
Mr. Cannonball Run shows up for a round of entertainment with Kermit and the gang, only to find himself in a quarrel with Miss Piggy. This being Piggy, the argument eventually turns to violence. As Dom and Piggy exchange insults, the pig ultimately opens up a can of you-know-what on the chubby actor. This episode is very skit-centric, as Deluise shies away from the rousing song and dance numbers. He does however end up on an alien planet with some strange, agitated aliens and gets accosted by a variety of monsters.

Bob Hope
The legendary comedian does his time on The Muppet Show in an episode that finds him, actually, rarely there. As Brian Henson notes on his introduction, Hope was so busy, he only had time for a few speaking parts and one production number—a funny duet with him and horse, made possible through a mix of puppetry and blue-screen effects. This episode is especially notable for the Zucchini Brothers showing up with their cannonball shtick, a sketch with Dr. Honeydew and the immortal Beaker, and the Japanese pole vaulting team.

The Evidence

As always, The Muppet Show provides ideal family entertainment. Really, you can't get more family-friendly than these episodes; the shows offer a sanitized mix of goofiness for kids and impressive production values with no dumbed-down product for the adults.

Compared to the assortment of other, so-called family movies, which often boast innuendo and violence that parents would feel cautious about showing their children, The Muppet Show is as inoffensive as you can get—well, unless you're offended by talking pigs prone to fits of jealous rage.

What The Muppet Show has working against it, is its age. At almost three decades since the show's debut, parts of these episodes start to feel dated. I found that to be the case with this set in particular.

The generation that remembers these guest stars is fading, I believe, and will soon be replaced by parents too young to recognize the name "Dom Deluise." With George Burns, Bob Hope, and Deluise, this batch of episodes may not be as alluring as others that starred more currently recognizable faces like Mark Hamill and Steve Martin. It's not that these episodes are worse than others. In fact, I've found that an episode of The Muppet Show is an episode of The Muppet Show—it's just, well, beginning to show its age.

Like the others, each episode is presented in full-frame with a Dolby Digital mono mix. These shows still lack the options of skipping between sequences, episode by episode. You can pick sketches from a menu, but this becomes tedious.

I have the same criticism of the bonus materials as I did in my other review. Move Mania (new sketches where the Muppets audition for famous roles) and Muppetisms (also new sketches with the Muppets offering words of advice) are enjoyable enough, but utterly disposable. What I crave is substantial behind-the-scenes segments and all we get are the intros by Brian Henson—which I do enjoy—and one concept drawing. Animal wants more detailed look into the makings of Muppet Show! Raarrr!!!

Closing Statement

Hey, the kids will love it, and providing you fall into the right age demographic, you'll be swimming in nostalgic glee. Even if you've never seen The Muppet Show, rest assured you can show this to your kids and not worry about Kermit and Miss Piggy grappling with the decision of birth control.

The Verdict

Case dismissed. Go charm the crap out of everyone!

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 85
Acting: 95
Story: 95
Judgment: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Movie Mania
• Muppetisms
• Trailers
• Photo gallery

Accomplices

• IMDb








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