The Muppet Show: Season 3
May 30, 2008
By Season 3, The Muppet Show was at the peak of its powers with its format firmly in place and a wide variety of celebrity guests from all genres of the entertainment industry.
For example, Saturday Night Live regular Gilda Radnor guest hosts one episode and in a nice nod to her show, she is introduced in the absent-minded character who would disrupt the SNL newscast on a semi-regular basis. Watching her in action – singing with a pompous, seven-foot tall talking carrot – is a sobering reminder of how poorer the world is without her presence. She is in a funny skit with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beeker where they experiment with some very adhesive glue. The glue ends up getting stuck everywhere and on many of the muppets including, most memorably, Gonzo’s eyes to a television set.
Shock rocker Alice Cooper has a lot of fun sending up his image in another episode. He sings “Welcome to My Nightmare” dressed up as Count Dracula backed up by a monster muppet band in a crypt. Cooper’s presence gives the entire episode a weird horror vibe complete with a reference to a Faustian contract with the Devil which he tries to get the Muppets to sign, singing monsters, and haunted candles that freaks out Kermit the Frog. Cooper sings two more songs including his signature tune, “School’s Out” dancing with a bunch of monster muppets.
Sylvester Stallone shows a surprising knack for comedy in his episode, considering how unfunny his comedy films are – Oscar (198?) anyone? He interacts well with the Muppets, displaying good comic timing. The show plays off Stallone’s sexy symbol status at the time with four muppet groupies following him everywhere. He even shows off a couple of punches on a talking punching bag. This episode also features a nice jazz song with Dr. Teeth’s band complete with some scat singing by Floyd.
Charlie’s Angels and 1970s sex symbol Cheryl Ladd is the guest host on the last episode of the season. She shows off her singing and dancing skills which are okay. Her most memorable moment is when she and Miss Piggy bond over a song and karate chops and flips – Ladd on a practice dummy and Piggy on poor Kermit. They end up trashing Ladd’s dressing room in the process.
“The Muppets on Puppets” aired in 1970 on National Education Television (the precursor to PBS). Jim Henson, Frank Oz and others taped a program about puppetry. They take us through the various kinds of puppets and show how they work. We see a young Frank Oz in action. Naturally, various muppets show up for comic relief in this fascinating documentary.
“A Company of Players” takes a look at the puppeteers with vintage footage of them in action. There is even rare rehearsal footage. Contemporary muppet performers praise the comic team of Frank Oz and Jim Henson.
“Purina Commercials” feature Rowlf the Dog making his TV debut in these commercials made for Purina Dog Chow between 1962 and 1963. These are rare and interesting to see this character in his infancy.