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The Muppet Show on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3

"The Muppet Show" Season Two: 4-Disc Set DVD Review

Buy The Muppet Show: Season Two from Amazon.com The Muppet Show: Season Two (1977-78)
Show & DVD Details

Directors: Peter Harris, Philip Casson / Producer: Jim Henson

Writers: Jerry Juhl, Joseph A. Bailey, Jim Henson, Don Hinkley

The Muppet Performers: Frank Oz (Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Animal, Sam the Eagle, others), Jim Henson (Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Waldorf, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Link Hogthrob, Newsman, others), Jerry Nelson (Floyd, Dr. Strangepork, Robin, Crazy Harry, J.P. Grosse, Baskerville the Hound, others), Richard Hunt (Statler, Scooter, Beaker, Janice, others), Dave Goelz (Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, others), Louise Gold (Mary Louise, others)

Guest Stars: Don Knotts, Zero Mostel, Milton Berle, Rich Little, Judy Collins, Nancy Walker, Edgar Bergen, Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, George Burns, Dom DeLuise, Bernadette Peters, Rudolf Nureyev, Elton John, Lou Rawls, Cleo Laine, Julie Andrews, Jaye P. Morgan, Peter Sellers, Petula Clark, Bob Hope, Teresa Brewer, John Cleese, Cloris Leachman

Running Time: 618 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007 / Season 2 Airdates: September 1977 - May 1978
Four single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Four-sided fold-out Digipak with furry cardboard slipcover

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Disc 4, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Big sunglasses and lots of rhinestones are on display as Elton John joins the Muppets, performing four of his greatest hits for and with them. Lou Rawls tries to coolly offer Animal a drumming gig, with Floyd serving as interpreter. With Cleo Laine's face sharing the screen only with a dramatic pair of marionettes, you've got to think "This is one of the weirder Muppet Show episodes I've seen."

Disc 3

14. Elton John (27:35) (Originally aired February 1978)
Rhinestones, big sunglasses, and bright feathers are in high supply for guest Elton John, appearing during his brief hiatus of the late-'70s. John sings some of his most famous works: "Crocodile Rock" (amidst Muppet crocodiles), "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", and, with Miss Piggy, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." In addition, the Swedish Chef deals with an uncooperative chicken,
Dr. Bob looks at a fellow dog, Fozzie joins Rowlf for a piano duet and then Kermit for a classic music hall song, Pigs in Space fight boredom, Sam the Eagle learns about Mozart's fashion sense, and the Muppets emulate Elton's glitzy look.

15. Lou Rawls (25:39) (Originally aired March 1978)
Jazz musician Lou Rawls brings a lot of jive talk to the Muppet Theatre, while offering Animal a drumming gig, educating Kermit, serenading Miss Piggy, and supplying plenty of scat. Rearranging is in order after Fozzie needs more time to master his planned roller skating act. Thrown off by the narrator, the Veterinarian's Hospital gang runs through their shtick twice, a Muppet Newsflash reports on a mallarditis outbreak, Robin nearly gets his legs prepared by the Swedish Chef, Link sings to an attentive live pig, and Bunsen and Beaker prepare a test of a nuclear-powered razor.

16. Cleo Laine (25:37) (Originally aired May 1978)
After spotting his mother in the audience, Fozzie begs Kermit to let him be a bigger part of the show. The Bear sneaks his way onto "Pigs in Space" and later performs a phrenology act on stage. Guest puppeteer Bruce Schwartz provides some unusually dramatic marionette work. The guest star, singer Cleo Laine, performs "Ain't Got That Swing" with the Electric Mayhem as well as an unexpected duet with the Swedish Chef. All this and the Muppets limbo.

Julie Andrews performs "The Lonely Goatherd", a song from one of her two most famous movie musical roles. Kermit finds both Jaye P. Morgan and Muppet Theatre owner J.P. Grosse overhearing some private gripes. In a Dr. Strangelove-like character, Peter Sellers plays a German masseur who gives Link a good rolling massage.

17. Julie Andrews (25:37) (Originally aired February 1978)
Award-winning stage and screen star Julie Andrews performs "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music, reprises a song she performed with Kermit for a TV special, and, la The King and I, whistles a happy tune to hide her fear amidst looming Muppet monsters. The presence backstage of a real cow puzzles Kermit and company. Gonzo plays "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" on the bagpipes, to the disapproval of a beaver; later, he has trouble finding someone to dance with him. Plus, Sam the Eagle weighs in on animal conservationists and Bunsen tests out a hair-growing formula on Beaker.

18. Jaye P. Morgan (25:38) (Originally aired March 1978)
Guest star Jaye P. Morgan (a singer, not to be confused with the financier), promises this episode isn't going to be "just another cute puppet show" and filled with exploding bombs, it's not. Morgan dons a garish bird costume to recreate a vintage Muppets number and also performs "That Old Black Magic" with Dr. Teeth. Meanwhile, the Pigs in Space must let Piggy go overboard, the Swedish Chef tries a number of ways to open a coconut, gender humor fills the ballroom, Sam discusses crime, and the presence of Scooter's uncle creates name confusion. (Fozzie and Rowlf's piano duet is duplicated from the Elton John episode, which probably explains why that one ran two minutes longer than the rest.)

19. Peter Sellers (25:41) (Originally aired February 1978)
In this episode, celebrated chameleon comic Peter Sellers assumes a number of personas: a Gypsy violinist, a boxing Viking, a contortion-inducing German masseur, and a singing Maldenesque temperance preacher. Thanks to a scientific breakthrough in the Muppet Labs, characters are teleported here and there throughout the episode. In addition, Kermit performs his trademark "Bein' Green", Gonzo sings about his trips down memory lane, and Rowlf plays "When."

In her colorful finale, Petula Clark performs a song from "Annie" in front of a dozen Muppets. Bob Hope doesn't look too thrilled to have inherited his episode's closing horse number. Cloris Leachman has the luck to appear on an episode when pigs take over The Muppet Show. Here, she smiles with the porcine stand-in for Kermit.

Disc 4

20. Petula Clark (25:36) (Originally aired May 1978)
Perky British singer Petula Clark livens up this episode with renditions of "The Boy from Ipanema" (next to a leggy, towering monster) and Annie's "Tomorrow." Backstage, the presence of Mickey Moose bothers Kermit in principle. Other acts -- such as opener "Sea Chanty" in a sinking rowboat,
a Western sketch about roosters, and a silly song performed on an Alps set -- are less memorable. Also, Dr. Bob and his nurses go down into the OR table, Petula sings with Rowlf at his tuna-tuned piano, and the Swedish Chef makes chocolate moose (of course).

21. Bob Hope (25:41) (Originally aired February 1978)
Playing on his busy schedule, Bob Hope weaves in and out of this episode, returning to find there's no time for his monologue but that he can assume the lead in a closing cowboy sketch. Animal indulges in dangerous hobbies, like alligator wrestling, backstage. In addition, pigs sing a calypso number, woodland creatures provide a pretty brilliant spin on Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", the Swedish Chef presses duck, the Muppets sing a medley of folk songs, and Rowlf plays piano with three hands.

22. Teresa Brewer (25:40) (Originally aired November 1977)
Pop singer guest star Teresa Brewer naturally ensures much song in this episode. She sings "Cotton Fields" on a riverboat, "Spinning Wheel" on a swing, and "Put Another Nickel In" in front of a nickelodeon. After overhearing Kermit and Scooter, Miss Piggy grows self-conscious of her rising weight. Also, Rowlf sings about (and with) cheesecake, Beaker demonstrates Muppet Labs' new electric nose warmer, Piggy works out, Scooter sings "At the Hop", Animal performs "Wild Thing", and Gonzo attempts to recite Shakespeare while hanging from his nose.

23. John Cleese (25:40) (Originally aired December 1977)
British comedy legend John Cleese shows up for some fun, under the guise of being a reluctant guest star. He plays a pirate on Pigs in Space and later won't agree on anything for a closing number. A cannonball-catching act leaves Gonzo with a very long arm (something Cleese tries to fix). In addition, duets are performed by Kermit & Piggy and Robin & Sweetums, Kermit interviews a liquid Koozebanian Spooble, fly in the soup jokes populate the ballroom, and a jugband provides the opening act.

24. Cloris Leachman (25:36) (Originally aired May 1978)
Pigs take over "The Muppet Show" with suitable porcine replacements filling in for Kermit, Fozzie, Dr. Bob, The Newscaster, and the Swedish Chef, while trapping the real Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo down in the boiler room. Good thing that the guest star Cloris Leachman is from Iowa! Pigs sing "That's Entertainment", Leachman and Link perform a medley of operettas, and in the memorable finale, Leachman plays a stranded shipwrecked survivor whose company is Sweetums and Doglion, for whom she sings "Just in Time." Also, Piggy chooses a Pigs in Space sketch over consoling Kermit.

Muppet Labs doctor Bunsen Honeydew is joined in Season 2 by the humorously mute assistant Beaker. No need to adjust your television. Elton John merely brings out all the bright colors and glitzy wardrobe touches.

VIDEO and AUDIO

All the episodes are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and though 30 years in age, they look rather fantastic. Compared to present-day productions, the visuals may look a little pale and soft, but that's true to how they were filmed and first aired. In some places, the picture feels a little bright or fuzzy. But on the whole, it's about as clean, consistent, and terrific-looking as one could hope a '70s TV show could look.

The soundtrack is again two-channel Dolby Mono, which again doesn't leave one with much to say or complain about. There are no noticeable problems with the audio, as dialogue, music, and even Crazy Harry's explosions are all easily and clearly perceived. English subtitles are provided, but these and the closed captions both neglect to supply song lyrics, presumably for legal reasons.

Mia Farrow is the special guest star for the very first Muppet Show pilot, "The Muppets Valentine Show", in which she interacts (in-person) with a cast that was largely remade for the actual series. Animal is among those answering tongue-in-cheek interview questions in "The Muppets on The Muppets." Miss Piggy, penguins, and many unseen Muppets accompany Weezer in their delightful 2002 music video for "Keep Fishin'."

BONUS FEATURES

Three bonus features are provided and all are found on Disc 4. First and best is "The Muppets Valentine Show" (25:35), a 1974 ABC special that is considered the first of two "Muppet Show" pilots. (The other was included on Season One.) In it, the sunglassed lead Wally types some thoughts about love. He gets some assistance from his housemates Kermit, Mildred, George the janitor, and Rufus the dog as well as human guest star, a pregnant Mia Farrow. There are a handful of musical numbers, a Kermit report from Koozebane, and just some generally funny exchanges.
While the linear format and cast of characters would each receive a major overhaul in the nearly three years it took after this for "The Muppet Show" to debut, the same sense of humor and visual palette are in place here. It's terrific to see this in its first legitimate home video release and the 33-year-old special is treated to pleasantly fine picture and sound.

Next is "The Muppets on The Muppets", a series of 13 new vignettes (12:45) that find ten Muppet characters sitting down for interviews about themselves. Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Animal, Rizzo and Pepe are joined by "Muppets Tonight" creations Bobo the Bear, Johnny Fiama, and Sal. All take turns to answer questions like "Are you dating?" and "Where do you find happiness?" Wavering between annoying and amusing, these tongue-in-cheek, minute-long pieces are similar to the "Pepe Profiles" featurettes on the Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition movie DVDs. In other words, they're okay but semi-disposable and no replacement for the tremendously insightful Muppets Morsels fact tracks that accompanied Season 1 but are missing here.

Rounding out the set is the 2002 music video for Weezer's "Keep Fishin'" (4:25), which prominently features the Muppets in reprisals of their "Muppet Show" roles. The song is cool, the frequently-aired video is fun, and as perhaps the best thing the Muppets have done this decade, its inclusion is certainly welcome. Too bad it's not in 5.1 sound.

Longtime pals Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog host the Main Menu of Disc 1 and 3, though they don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the extent of their duties. One of Disc 4's Main Menu sequences finds Animal sleeping while Rizzo (a character not introduced until Season 4) tries not to wake him.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Two different pairs host the newly-filmed menus of each disc: Fozzie Bear and Kermit take Discs 1 and 3, Animal and Rizzo grace Discs 2 and 4. (Some by-the-book fans may be unable to forgive the presence of Rizzo on a set that predates his "Muppet Show" debut by two years.) Presented in a number of randomly-rotating exchanges, the couples' diverting banter entertains far greater than most menus, even if we've all come to expect the impatient selection prompt.

Following Season 1's lead, the Season 2 box zooms in on another iconic Muppet part, this time the face of Miss Piggy. Her blue eyes glitter and her pink skin is fuzzy to the touch, at least in initial printings.
The only insert the box is a code for Disney Movie Rewards, which makes this DVD the first one without Disney branding to qualify for Disney's ongoing point redemption program.

Unlike the previous set, Season 2's episodes are presented with chapter stops, five per episode, allowing for quicker segment access. No scene selection menus and the abundance of skits ensures that access isn't instant, but it's definitely an improvement.

Disc One opens with previews for the 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition re-release of The Jungle Book, and long-available "The Muppet Show": Season One, plus a promo for Disney Blu-ray. The platter's Sneak Peeks menu holds these three and adds a spot for the hottest TV on DVD (touting new and upcoming boxes of "Lost", "Desperate Housewives", "Grey's Anatomy", "Ugly Betty", "Brothers and Sisters", and ABC Family's "Kyle XY").

In this Season 2 editorial, Sam the Eagle has something important and surely decent to say. Waldorf: You know, they're calling this review a runaway hit. Statler: Yeah, whenever it loads, you wanna run away from the computer!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It took two full years for Disney to provide us with Season Two of "The Muppet Show", but gladly the two dozen second season episodes of this late-'70s TV show come without any cuts. There are few surprises in store for those who have become familiar with the first season DVD or remember the show from either its original or subsequent syndicated runs. In its sophomore year on the air, "The Muppet Show" still provided a wide variety of content that usually is on-target. The distinct format appears to be a mild hindrance to the excellent characters that make the show so grand and some of the straight musical acts leave something to be desired. But neither these facts nor the passing of 30 years can render this colorful series short on charm. Dated but still a delight, "The Muppet Show" is ripe for revisiting or finally discovering and is sure to entertain viewers young and old.

Disney's DVD once again provides fine picture and sound. It's lighter on extras than the first season set, but the inclusion of the series' original Valentine's-themed pilot is a genuine treat. In short, I can only offer whatever little encouragement is needed to recommend you seek out this DVD and give the Season 1 DVD a long-overdue shelf neighbor.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
The Muppet Show: Season 1 The Muppet Show: Season 3 A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
The Muppet Movie The Great Muppet Caper The Muppet Christmas Carol Muppet Treasure Island (Kermit's 50th Anniversary Editions)
Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons
Labyrinth (Anniversary Edition) The Dark Crystal (Anniversary Edition)
Benson: The Complete First Season Silver Spoons: The Complete First Season Happy Days: The Third Season
New to DVD: The Tick vs. Season 2 Home Improvement: The Complete Seventh Season 8 Simple Rules: The Complete First Season

Season 2 Guest Stars:
Don Knotts: Hot Lead & Cold Feet The Apple Dumpling Gang No Deposit, No Return Gus
Steve Martin: Father of the Bride (15th Anniversary Edition) Shopgirl
Julie Andrews: Mary Poppins (45th Anniversary Edition) The Princess Diaries Eloise at the Plaza
Cloris Leachman: Herbie Goes Bananas Sky High | John Cleese: Valiant Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Elton John: The Lion King | Edgar Bergen: Fun and Fancy Free | Madeline Kahn: A Bug's Life
Dom DeLuise: Oliver & Company The Secret of NIMH | Bob Hope: The Golden Girls: Season 4
Nancy Walker: The World's Greatest Athlete The Golden Girls: Season 2


Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Disc 4, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed August 6, 2007.