Posts made in February, 2017

The Muppet Show 1.12: “Peter Ustinov”

Peter Ustinov and Fozzie crack jokes.

Peter Ustinov and Fozzie crack jokes.

The Peter Ustinov episode of The Muppet Show is a perfect example of how, no matter how iconic and storied the guest star, whenever the Muppets failed to incorporate them into any musical numbers, the show usually suffered, particularly in the first season, when the writers made up for non-singing guests’ lack of singing by featuring them in additional comedy sketches, which, at this point, usually felt creaky and forced, since they were the epitome of the show trying to behave like any other variety show, which it was always so clearly begging not to be.

 

Later on, this could be mitigated by the generally-more-natural backstage scenes in which the guest would take part, often as the focal point of the story, but at this point, a non-singing guest feels more like something they

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The Muppet Show 1.11: “Lena Horne”

Lena Horne consoles Gonzo.

Lena Horne consoles Gonzo.

Growing up, my only real point of reference for Lena Horne was that she was a celebrity who appeared on Sesame Street, but in her relatively brief scenes, she exuded a warm, gentle glow that, even at a young age, made me sense that she was one of those people who really got the Muppets. She and they seemed to fit together so naturally that I remember her spots on the show more vividly than most other famous people who popped up there.

 

By comparison, her Muppet Show episode doesn’t feel nearly as iconic, and that’s almost entirely due to the writing and presentation. The show still hasn’t fully figured out how to best feature and utilize its guest stars consistently. There are some terrific moments that demonstrate just why

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The Muppet Show 1.09: “Charles Aznavour”

Piggy succumbs to Charles' charms.

Piggy succumbs to Charles’ charms.

In previous posts, I spoke of how, in the first season, before The Muppet Show became a massive hit and celebrity guest stars were banging down the doors to appear, the show paid host to a number of lower-tier stars who were friends of the producers, doing them favors. Well, given that the singer, Charles Aznavour, who Kermit calls an “international star,” seems to have only been truly famous in his home country, France, I’m going to assume that he was one of those people. He’s an adequate Muppet Show guest–nothing truly electrifying, even in his musical numbers, but he does a good-enough job of not drawing attention away from the real stars, The Muppets, and, more importantly, provides an excellent avenue for the show to truly begin to explore Piggy’s fascination with all things French.

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