The Muppet Show is a television program featuring a cast of Muppets (diverse hand operated puppets, typically with huge eyes and large moving mouths) produced by Jim Henson and his team from 1976 to 1981. Despite its creative inspiration being American, Jim Henson was unable to get the show produced in the US, but instead persuaded Lord Lew Grade at ATV in Great Britain to produce it. In the United States, it aired in syndication; in Britain it aired on the ITV network.
The television show depicted a vaudeville-style song-and-dance variety show, as well as the backstage antics involved in putting the show on. Most of the shows revolved around the timid and gentle Kermit the Frog (performed by Henson) trying to keep control of the varied, outrageous, kinetic Muppet characters, as well as keep the human guest stars happy and secure. The show was well known for outrageous, highly physical (slapstick), sometimes absurdist comedy, and particularly for using its puppet characters to create uniquely humorous parodies. Many major celebrities were eager to perform with the Muppets on television and in film. Each show featured a human guest star, as diverse as Twiggy, Julie Andrews, Steve Martin, Mummenschanz, and Alice Cooper. (Episode Guide) (http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/EpisodeGuideServlet/showid-1866/The_Muppet_Show/)
Though they appear in various earlier forms (see Jim Henson), the Muppets gained widespread popularity on the landmark PBS series Sesame Street. The Muppet Show became the cornerstone of Jim Henson's enormously popular ongoing productions.
Other "Jim Henson's Muppets" creations featured in the films The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Sesame Street based Follow That Bird, as well as in a large variety of films, made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video children's releases, and television specials.
Major show writers included Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns.
Long term Muppet performers include Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Karen Prell, Brian Henson, and Brian Muehl.
Select episodes can be found on videotape and DVD. Bits of the show also pop up in movies sometimes (An American Werewolf in London and Rocky III)
The rights to the episodes and characters used in The Muppet Show, and subsequent film outings, were bought in February 2004 by The Walt Disney Company.
The Muppet Show characters went on to star in The Muppet Movie, which was the first film to feature puppets interacting with humans in real-world locations. Later films included The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppets From Space.
The Jim Henson Hour and Muppets Tonight are considered by some as spin-offs of The Muppet Show.
List of Muppet characters
- Kermit the Frog, director and host
- Miss Piggy, a glamorous diva pig
- Fozzie Bear, a (questionably talented) stand-up comic bear
- Scooter, the gofer (not a real gopher, a backstage "go-for"), nephew of the theatre's owner.
- Gonzo aka The Great Gonzo, Gonzo the Great, stuntman and daredevil
- The Swedish Chef, a Swedish Chef
- Rowlf the dog, piano player
- Dr. Julius Strangepork the science officer in Pigs in Space
- Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, scientist and inventor, and his capable guinea pig/assistant, Beaker
- Camilla, a chicken (Gonzo's love)
- Sam the (American) Eagle, American patriot
- Dr. Teeth, band leader and keyboard player for Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
- Zoot, saxophone player
- Janice, guitarist
- Animal, the drummer
- Sgt. Floyd Pepper, bass guitarist
- Lew Zealand, boomerang fish thrower, and obsessed with fish generally
- Statler & Waldorf, two old men who come to every show and heckle the performances
- Annie Sue, Miss Piggy's rival
- The Muppet newscaster
- Foo-Foo, Miss Piggy's dog
- Sweetums, 9-foot-tall monster
- Link Hogthrob, star of Pigs in Space, Captain of the USS Swinetrek. Also stars in Bear Patrol.
- Beauregard, the stage hand
- Crazy Harry, madman who likes explosives
- Robin, Kermit's nephew
- Uncle Deadly, sinister and a little scary
- Flying Zucchini Brothers, acrobats with a disasterous finish
- Pops, the door greeter
- Marvin Suggs, the Muppaphone man
- George, the janitor
- Bobo the Bear, a large, brown bear (Played a government agent in Muppets From Space)
See also Kermitage: Character Guide (http://www.kermitage.com/html/characterindex/tms/)
- At the Dance - Laugh-In style one liners from the characters as they ballroom dance
- Muppet Labs - the latest invention from Dr. Bunsen Honeydew with his assistant, Beaker, getting the worst of its inevitable malfunction.
- Muppet News Flash - a news announcer gives a newsbrief only to typically have something fall on his head
- Pigs In Space - parody of science fiction shows like Star Trek, but also old 40's sci-fi serials. The space craft is called USS Swinetrek.
- Swedish Chef - Cooking show parody
- Vend-a-face - A vending machine that offers unique services that usually mean agonizing contortions of the muppets dumb enough to feed the machine.
- Veterinarian's Hospital - parody of soap opera General Hospital and other medical dramas which consists of Dr. Bob (Rowlf) cracking jokes in the operating room with Nurses Piggy and Janice; each instalment ends with Dr. Bob and his nurses looking around in puzzlement as a disembodied voice tells viewers to tune in next time.
- Wayne and Wanda - Every song this duo attempted ends in disaster
- Bear on Patrol - Fozzie is a unlucky police officer and Link Hogthrob is his stupid superior who always get into the silliest situations with the criminals brought in.
List of guest stars
Orson Welles on The Muppet Show