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

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

Buy The Muppet Show: Season Three from Amazon.com The Muppet Show: Season Three (1978-79)
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, Marvin Suggs, others), Jim Henson (Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Waldorf, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Link Hogthrob, Newsman, others), Jerry Nelson (Floyd, Dr. Strangepork, Robin, Crazy Harry, Baskerville the Hound, others), Richard Hunt (Statler, Scooter, Beaker, Gladys, Wayne, Janice, others), Dave Goelz (Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, others), Louise Gold (Annie Sue, Mary Louise, others), Steve Whitmire (others)

Guest Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, Leo Sayer, Roy Clark, Gilda Radner, Pearl Bailey, Jean Stapleton, Alice Cooper, Loretta Lynn, Liberace, Marisa Berenson, Raquel Welch, James Coco, Helen Reddy, Harry Belafonte, Lesley Ann Warren, Danny Kaye, Spike Milligan, Leslie Uggams, Elke Sommers, Sylvester Stallone, Roger Miller, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Lynn Redgrave, Cheryl Ladd

Running Time: 612 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-G
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 20, 2008
Season 3 Airdates: September 21, 1978 - September 11, 1979
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

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from the season.

Looking for world harmony in song? Just call Harry Belafonte and the Muppets. Lesley Ann Warren makes a point to Kermit outside the Muppet Theater's famous red stage curtain. Danny Kaye enjoys a dance with an adoring Miss Piggy.

Disc 3

14. Harry Belafonte (25:44) (Originally aired February 15, 1979)
This famous episode begins with the first-ever TV performance of Belafonte's "The Banana Boat Song" (more commonly known as "Day-O"). Other musical performances include "Tea for Two" and "Honeysuckle Rose". The episode is most notable, however, for "Turn the World Around", in which Belafonte, African masked Muppets,
and the main cast join together in a song about spiritual harmony in nature. Despite the fuss over it, the poignancy of this moment is somewhat lost decades later.

15. Lesley Ann Warren (25:42) (Originally aired February 8, 1979)
Host Lesley Ann Warren stars in a Beauty and the Beast ballet, followed by "Pigs in Space", and a very funny objection to Dr. Teeth's "Mack the Knife" by Sam the Eagle. Warren later chastises Marvin Suggs for his cruelty to the Muppaphone, joins Rowlf for "Just the Way You Are", and closes the show with a cover of Donna Summer's "Last Dance".

16. Danny Kaye (25:39) (Originally aired February 1, 1979)
The show opens with "Aquarius", followed by some humorous disparagement of the guest by Statler and Waldorf, seen outside their usual balcony seats. Host Danny Kaye duets with Miss Piggy on "Cheek to Cheek", appears as The Swedish Chef's uncle, and sings "The Inchworm" backstage.

It's a small world after all, or so Spike Milligan and many Muppets tell us in homage to the Disneyland ride. Wearing a top hat, bow tie, and vest, Sylvester Stallone looks dapper amidst the Muppets in his appearance. This was a half-life ago, when making Rocky sequels didn't yield age jokes.

17. Spike Milligan (25:43) (Originally aired January 18, 1979)
The Muppets go international in this episode that foreshadows Muppet*Vision 3D at Walt Disney World in a number of ways. "Oklahoma!" goes Japanese, bagpipes go Brazilian, and West Side Story's America becomes less nation-specific.



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The big finale finds host Spike Milligan joining a host of Muppets in a tribute to one of their favorite countries (Disneyland) with a performance of "It's a Small World".

18. Leslie Uggams (25:39) (Originally aired July 5, 1979)
Miss Piggy and Gonzo both get solos: "Mad About the Frog" and "Gonzo's Song", respectively. Also making a special appearance is "Sesame Street"'s Big Bird, who sings "Love Will Keep Us Together" with host Leslie Uggams. The Muppets also join Uggams for "Hey There, Good Times" and "Here You Come Again".

19. Elke Sommer (25:42) (Originally aired January 25, 1979)
The Muppets put together an Egypt-themed finale. Along the way, songs such as "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Tuxedo Junction", and "Animal Crackers in My Soup" are performed. An installment of "Pigs in Space" is featured as well. The show closes with German actress Elke Sommer singing "Row, Row, Row" as Cleopatra.

20. Sylvester Stallone (25:41) (Originally aired February 22, 1979)
Rocky star Sylvester Stallone opens the show with a gladiator fight/singing duet with a lion, singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off". Not known as a singer, Sly spends more time in non-musical skits than the average host, but still closes the show with a song: "A Bird in a Gilded Cage". The Electric Mayhem perform "Lady Be Good" and a group of pigs deliver the "Hawaiian War Chant" as well.

Roger Miller sits the heck out of this watermelon patch. Dale Evans and Roy Rogers are all smiles in their Western-flavored episode. The Muppets do Robin Hood... for the entirety of Lynn Redgrave's episode. Seen here are Fozzie Bear as Little John and Scooter as Alan-a-Dale.

Disc 4

21. Roger Miller (25:43) (Originally aired May 10, 1979)
The Muppet Theater is plagued with "cluckitis", a spontaneous condition that turns Muppets into chickens. Kermit frantically tries to hide the epidemic from the host,
who sings "In the Summertime", "Hat", and a medley of odd songs: "You Had a Do Wacka Do", "Dang Me", "My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died", and "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd". The medical staff at "Veterinarian's Hospital" shows up to try their hands at solving the "cluckitis" problem. Additionally, the Muppets sing "Down at the Old Bull and Bush" and a cast of pilgrim penguins sing "Alabamy Bound".

22. Roy Rogers & Dale Evans (25:42) (Originally aired May 17, 1979)
The country-western hosts inspire an evening of that musical style, beginning with a rendition of "Blue Skies" and ending with a medley of "Hazy Mountains", "Tumbling Tumbleweeds", and "Happy Trails". In between, there are installments of "Muppet Sports" and "Bear on Patrol" and performances of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "A Four-Legged Friend".

23. Lynn Redgrave (25:41) (Originally aired May 24, 1979)
This creative episode departs from the norm by employing host and cast in a half-hour production of Robin Hood. Fozzie plays Little John, Gonzo plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, host Lynn Redgrave plays Maid Marian (much to Miss Piggy's chagrin), and of course, Kermit plays Robin Hood himself.

24. Cheryl Ladd (25:43) (Originally aired September 11, 1979)
Miss Piggy first duets with Link Hogthrob on "True Love" and then with host Cheryl Ladd on "I Enjoy Being a Girl". Scooter also sings "There's a New Sound". On "Pigs in Space", the crew finds itself invisible. A number of Muppets sing "South Rampart Street Parade". Finally, Ladd closes the show with "Sunshine on My Shoulders".

Fozzie and Rowlf sing Pinocchio's "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life for Me)" and make their classic "halibut" joke. Kermit interviews Marvin Suggs on the art of his Muppaphone.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Each episode is correctly presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and with rather outstanding picture quality. Bright, colorful, and most notably clean, the transfer remarkably brings a 30 year old program into step with much more modern source material. There is occasional softness and even some minor artifacts here and there
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-- to be expected from a '70s TV series no matter how much dusting off the studio has agreed to -- but even on a large display, the picture astounds when its origins are contemplated. One couldn't ask for much more.

The sound for each episode has again been made available in two-channel Dolby Mono. As such, the audio obviously doesn't dazzle but it certainly doesn't disappoint. One doesn't reasonably expect a soundtrack to much exceed its origins and here, clarity and audibility are never an issue. If a Muppet is hard to understand, their silly mumblings or comically muffled voices are likely to blame -- not the DVD. The music, which plays such an important role in the series, is equally free of frustration. Unlike last season's release, many -- if not all -- of the lyrics featured on the show appear in the English subtitles.

Jim Henson schools an early 1970s public television audience on how puppeteers do what they do in "Muppets on Puppets." "A Company of Players" includes lots of vintage behind-the-scenes Muppet goodness. Here, Frank Oz (left) and Jim Henson (right) portray Fozzie and Kermit (middle), respectively. In one of his earliest appearances, Rowlf pitches Purina dog food alongside Baskerville the Hound.

BONUS FEATURES

The Complete Third Season offers three bonus features, all found on Disc Four. The first is "The Muppets on Puppets" (58:43), a 1970 black & white Jim Henson special that aired on a precursor to PBS. The special features Rowlf and a host of other early Henson puppets alongside their creators, explaining the art of puppetry.
The educational value and vintage charm are enough to make this worth checking out but may not be enough to sustain a full hour of viewing.

The second is "A Company of Players" (10:20), a rather unpolished featurette on the key Muppets and the talents behind them. The reflections on the popularity and development of particular characters is worthwhile, as are the behind-the-scenes glimpses at "Muppet Show" puppeteering, so this is definitely one to watch even if isn't the sort of brand-new production one would hope for.

Finally, there is a reel (2:34) of several Purina dog food commercials from 1962 and 1963 featuring a very early Rowlf and his sidekick, Baskerville, who sounds a lot like Kermit the Frog. Possibly the best bonus on the disc, this set of commercials provides a rare look not only at the dog food advertising industry of the 1960s but at the Muppets' rudimentary days as well.

Kermit and Piggy continue the tradition of Muppet Show menus that entertain and prompt viewer action. Delightful jazz music plays behind the still menu that holds Disc Four's bonus features.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The 16x9 main menus begin with a joke from the show and then scroll over to a newly filmed comedy routine featuring Kermit and Miss Piggy on the topic of DVD menus. There are a few exchanges recorded for each menu, different for each disc. As usual, a "Muppet Studios" logo briefly plays just before the start of each episode.
The four discs are housed inside a four-panel Digipak, two discs overlapping each other on each inside flap. The Digipak slides into the furry cardboard slipcover. Each episode is helpfully divided into several chapters.

In keeping with the previous two seasons' DVD releases, the packaging features a close-up of Fozzie Bear (Kermit and Piggy claimed Seasons 1 and 2, respectively). The outer cover, at least in initial printings, is fuzzy to the touch so that Fozzie's wooly orange-brown fur feels real. It's the next best thing to having the actual Muppet in your hands!

The first disc offers an unusually small platter of Disney sneak peeks: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: 2-Disc Special Edition DVD and the upcoming Pixar feature film, Wall-E. Both play automatically when the disc is inserted and can also be accessed from the main menu. The set includes an insert bearing a Disney Movie Rewards code worth 125 points.

You may have just found the rainbow connection... Kermit the Frog's diminutive nephew Robin sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" somewhere under a rainbow. Miss Piggy hams it up in true Piggy fashion.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Thanks to an increased Piggy presence and more recognizable guest stars, the third season of "The Muppet Show" is an improvement on the already stellar first two seasons. The music-heavy format and '70s celebrities might be off-putting for some but the endearing wittiness of this tongue-in-cheek series will easily win over most and provide at least some measure of entertainment for just about anyone. Buena Vista's first-rate video restoration and a handful of interesting bonus features sweeten the deal. The Season Three DVD thus comes enthusiastically recommended.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
The Muppet Show: Season 1 The Muppet Show: Season 2 Bear in the Big Blue House
The Muppet Movie The Great Muppet Caper The Muppet Christmas Carol Muppet Treasure Island
Labyrinth: Anniversary Edition The Dark Crystal: Anniversary Edition The Muppets' Wizard of Oz
Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons

1970s Television:
Happy Days: The Third Season Laverne and Shirley: The Third Season The Odd Couple: The Third Season
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town Benson: The Complete First Season

New to DVD: National Treasure: Book of Secrets Semi-Pro Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection

Season 3 Guest Stars:
Pearl Bailey: The Fox and the Hound | Kris Kristofferson: Where the Red Fern Grows The Wendell Baker Story
Helen Reddy: Pete's Dragon | Lesley Ann Warren: The Happiest Millionaire Desperate Housewives: Season 1
Roger Miller: Robin Hood | Roy Rogers: Melody Time


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

Reviewed May 23, 2008.