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.
"Boonter, gloonter, veenter, hoonter!" -The Swedish Chef
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:
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!!!
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.
Case dismissed. Go charm the crap out of everyone!
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