What can you say about the Muppets that hasn’t already been said over the franchises many years? Whether it’s in movie or television form, the Muppets have always been entertaining and there’s no doubt in my mind that one of the most entertaining ventures they have ever had has been in The Muppet Show, a series running from 1976 to 1981. While there was a revamp of the show in the 90s titled Muppets Tonight, there is nothing quite like the original Muppet Show and it is no clearer seen than in this second season.
Fans have been waiting awhile for this second season of The Muppet Show to arrive on DVD. While there has been a release of the show via Time Life, these Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases are more “official” and come with new video and audio transfers as well as exclusive extras. Still, with the first season having been released on DVD two years ago, the delay in getting the second season was unbearable for fans of the show who wanted “definitive” sets. Despite being able to participate in choosing the cover art for the second release, fans still endured long waits when the set was pushed from a spring to late summer release.
Continuing from a strong first season, The Muppet Show arrives in its second season with even stronger guest starts (starting off with the second premiere guest star of Don Knotts) and writing than the last. While the show is clearly written for all-ages, there are tons of smart jokes and self-demeaning jabs thrown in (courtesy of the Muppets Statler and Waldorf). Watching the show now I’m amazed at how well it held up—I had no idea the show was from the late 70s and early 80s and this second season looks and sounds so clear on DVD I would’ve pegged it for a mid-to-late 80s show. Still, while the humor may be dated in some spots, the guest stars of Milton Berle, Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Elton John, Peter Sellers, Bob Hope, John Cleese and countless and remarkable others in this second season help keep the show immensely entertaining this sophomore effort.
With the shows greater focus on the guest stars this season and even more participation from the Muppets in the guest star sketches, The Muppet Show is a staple of late 70s television. While I was nowhere near close to being alive during that time, I’ve seen more than my fair share of the Muppets in my lifetime and watching more of The Muppet Show is always a good thing. Fans of the Muppets will no doubt rush out next week to purchase this second season and rightfully so as it comes Highly Recommended.
Fuzzy Miss Piggy with glittery eyes as the cover? Check. Digi-pak dual layer tray fold out? Check. Awesome menu intros with hilarious dialogue by Fozzy and Kermit? Double check. From mere first glances alone, this set is already a beauty to look at and delving into the set only proves that it’s not all looks.
Video and audio on the release is superb. As I said earlier, this show does not show its age in the least and while it does look old, it certainly doesn’t look near thirty years old. In fact, it doesn’t even sound it either—while the audio isn’t crystal clear, it’s still remarkably clean and sounds great in Dolby Digital 2.0. Sure, there is grain and an overall lack of sharpness in the picture but for a show of this age it’s to be expected.
Moving past into the extras, fans will be simultaneously delighted and angered by this. The lack of “Muppet Morsels”, essentially pop-up trivia that played during episodes, was a boon for Muppet fans on the last set and with two years in-between sets it’s shocking that this release didn’t have this as well. Still, the extras we do get are satisfactory, even if they are a bit out of place (i.e., the Weezer extra).
“The Muppets Valentine Special” stars Mia Farrow and while the packaging bills it as a “special”, it acts as more of a pilot as there is differences between character names as well as design changes that make it evident that this isn’t something that aired mid-season. Regardless of when it aired, it’s great to have on DVD as it’s something that is rarely seen by the public, though I’m sure fans have seen it before (albeit in shoddy quality).
“The Muppets on the Muppets” is a collection of interviews with the various Muppets and is something that seems to be done for the DVD rather than something they pulled out of the vault. Running nearly thirty minutes in length, this extra is hilarious to watch, especially when we get to some of the bits with Gonzo. Great fun all around and well worth watching after you finish off the shows twenty-four episodes.
The last extra is the Weezer “Gone Fishin’” music video which we’ve all seen by now at some point. It’s a great video to watch, but being that it’s so recent, it seems like it would’ve made a better extra on the Muppets Tonight release, should it ever come out (at the rate The Muppet Show is going with DVD releases, it’ll probably be 2020 before Muppets Tonight arrives).
Overall, while the set kind of stumbles in the extras area after a two year wait, it’s hard to fault the Muppets in any form. Pick up the set, grab some popcorn and bork bork bork with the Chef until your heart’s content—this release comes Highly Recommended.
The Muppet Show: Season Two arrives on DVD on August 7th.