The Muppet Show Season 1
Besides my wife, I can’t imagine anyone of any age who doesn’t like Jim Henson’s Muppets. The creatures and characters he and his crew created helped to pioneer dozens of new film-making technologies all while entertaining and educating kids and adults. I grew up with the Muppets. To this day I’d love to take a stab at being a muppeteer, and if there’s a show I enjoy watching over and over more than the Looney Tunes it was the Muppet Show. Unfortunately, unlike Bugs and Daffy, Kermit and Piggy have been under the thumb of the Walt Disney Company and their re-runs from the 70’s and 80’s may never make it to television again. Light shines at the end of this foam covered tunnel though with the release of the Muppet Show Season 1 on DVD.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I heard about this. As it was, I watched the Muppet Show as a kid in re-runs, many episodes I figure were lost to the ages. The archives have been opened and the first of many box sets comes adorned in green felt. 4 discs each contain 6 completely restored episodes and include footage cut from the U.S. airing of each episode to account for time. Having the episodes alone would have been enough to satisfy fans new and old. Time Life released a limited series of Best-Of DVDs a few years back that contained 45 episodes in total, chosen from amidst the entire 6 season run, but lacked any real behind the scenes bonuses or a complete season. This box set however includes the pilot episode: “Sex and Violence”, a pitch reel created more or less to kiss up to CBS executives and a gag reel filmed during the 1st season to help promote each weekly episode.
Additionally each and every single episode has a secondary closed captioning track that gives a super detailed look at each show, the performers, and even points out bloopers seconds before they happen. There is an incredible amount of detail put into these pop-up-video style captions, down to the filming dates, song credits and snippets about each guest star. For fans like me, multiple viewings are a no-brainer, especially with so much information packed in.
I was hoping to see more under-the-puppet type of bonus features, but we’ve still got 5 box sets to go, so here’s hoping. My only other complaint is that each episode is set up as individual chapters, whereas the Time Life series set up chapter breaks at the points of normal commercial interruption. That being only a minor annoyance, I can easily give the set high marks and a major recommendation to anyone who has enjoyed the exploits of Kermit and his friends through the years.