The Muppet Show: Season 2
August 7, 2007
Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppets are back for Season 2 with notable guest stars like Zero Mostel, Steve Martin, Elton John, Julie Andrews and many others. The show was now a proven success and the celebrity guest stars came flooding in. Classic skits, like Veterinarian’s Hospital, are back with Rowlf the Dog riffing with one intentionally cheesy joke after another. This season would mark the first appearance of one of the show’s most famous routines, Pigs in Space, a hilarious parody of Star Trek and Lost in Space with such memorable characters as the terminally clueless Captain Link Hogthrob, first mate Miss Piggy and Dr. Julius Strangepork – all members of the USS Swinetrek.
The legendary Zero Mostel was one such example of a high profile celebrity making an appearance on the show. In the 1970s, he was very popular thanks to his appearances in Mel Brooks films but the highlight of his episode, for me, is the wonderfully funky music of Dr. Teeth and his band – the Muppet equivalent of Parliament/Funkadelic. Their performances, especially with Animal going crazy on the drums, were always a highlight. Another memorable Muppet character is Crazy Harry whose sole purpose is to blow things up which he does during a musical number, gleefully bringing the set down in the process. There is also the pompous Sam the Eagle who is always trying to push his ultra-conservative agenda but no one seems to take him seriously.
Some of the guests, like celebrity impersonator Rich Little, haven’t aged too well over the years. He’s a one-trick pony and every skit with him involves an impression of somebody more famous than him… and that’s it. However, someone like Steve Martin, who was at the height of his popularity, is armed with a formidable arsenal of zany antics and behaviour that allowed him to fit right in with the show. He trots out his trademark shtick, like the arrow through the head bit and his famous line, “Excuuuuuuse me!” He appears on an episode where there is no show. It was cancelled by Kermit due to a scheduling error and in its place the frog holds auditions for acts like Gonzo and his dancing cheese which is as funny and odd as it sounds. Martin is the antithesis of someone like Rich Little. The comedian tells jokes, he sings, he plays the banjo and even juggles.
Julie Andrews brings years of theatre experience and is perfect for the show as she gets to sing with that wonderful voice of hers. In a nice moment, she even serenades Kermit which is quite sweet and touching, proving that the Muppets didn’t have to be funny all the time and that they had a lot of heart, which was definitely part of their appeal. John Cleese brings his fearless brand of absurdist humour to the show. For example, he informs Kermit that his contract forbids him from working with pigs until a huge monster eats his contract and then his agent.
This is another solid season with many memorable guests and some very funny sketches. Disney has really come through with crystal clear transfers and the show has never looked better. In the extras department, however, it is more of a mixed bag and this is where the studio has dropped the ball.
“The Muppets Valentine Special” is a rarely seen special that originally aired on ABC on January 30, 1974. Mia Farrow is the guest star. Notable differences from the show include the voice for Rowlf the dog for a human Muppet and the whole backstage/putting on a show concept is not used. In addition, many popular Muppets like Fozzie, Gonzo and Miss Piggy are absent.
“The Muppets on The Muppets” is a collection of newly recorded interviews with Kermit and the gang as they are asked questions like, “Kermit and Fozzie, why are you friends?” or “Are you dating?” or “Animal: what makes you truly happy?” They are followed by amusing and “candid” answers.
Finally, there is “Weezer and the Muppets.” Rock band Weezer did a video with the Muppets for their song, “Keep Fishin’” which is included in its entirety. The band plays with Animal on drums while Kermit and Gonzo are backup singers.