Posts Tagged ‘Season 6’

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 8

July 12, 2021

Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke got his start in show business without having to go too far as he became a radio DJ in his hometown of Danville, Illinois in the 1940s. He eventually joined up with a performer named Phil Erickson and they formed a mime act. Their act involved lip synching to records in nightclubs on the West Coast. After that, the two of them shot over to Atlanta in the Fifties where they created a television show where they did a more original act with comedy skits and music. In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Dick made a splash on Broadway where his fusion of music and comedy were successful. He originated the role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie which won him a Tony award. He started to make comedy appearances on television, guesting on several shows. He then achieved even greater fame by starring in the Dick Van Dyke show as part of a contract deal with CBS and in partnership with Carl Reiner. He won several Emmy awards on that show. He went on to work heavily in television for the rest of his career. He appeared in plenty of movies most memorably in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Van Dyke would be perfect for the Muppet Show because of his mix of comedy and music. At the time, he was not only vastly talented, he was also somebody who had a lot of experience creating his own things. He also had worked with animation which would give him a leg up working with the Muppets. On top of all of that, Dick can be maudlin and serious when he needs to be without getting too dark.

Cold Open: Fozzy and Pops warmly greet Van Dyke as fans but Kermit snubs him.

Guest Arc: Kermit and Dick Van Dyke have an old feud over Kermit’s resentment that Van Dyke got famous and Kermit did not because Kermit was left out to dry. Eventually, Dick apologizes for not being a better friend and they make up.

“I’ve Got Your Number” (Cy Coleman) with Annie Sue
“Easy Street” (AR Jones) with Rowlf
“Put on a Happy Face” (Adams/Strouse) with Kermit

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was born in her family home in Memphis, Tennessee in the heart of a very musical part of the United States. Her mother was a piano player and vocalist which obviously inspired Aretha. Her family moved to Detroit, the home of Motown during a very formative time in music history. She started her own musical journey in church shortly after her mother’s death singing hymns. She was inspired by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Marvin Gaye (who her sister dated) to move into more commercial work in soul, r&b, pop, Motown, jazz, and more. However, it was in the late sixties where she really started to catch fire and started to churn out hits that she would be remembered for like “Respect”, “Think”, “Chain of Fools”, and more. She elevated herself from a singer to a musical goddess and a legend in her own time. She was often looked to as an inspiration for countless musical acts

Aretha would bring a sense of greatness to another season of the Muppet Show. On a personal note, she was one of my favorite singers to listen to when I was a teenager. Her appearance in Blues Brothers showed that she had a sense of humor and her musical talent would definitely drive an episode. She is very personable and I would have loved to see her interact with the cast.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give the warning but Animal is there to feed Aretha chocolates. Unfortunately, he’s a bit too aggressive.

Guest Arc: Beaker has finally had it and wants to quit working for Bunsen Honeydew. Kermit brings in the Queen of Respect to not only guest but help teach Bunsen to be a little nicer so he can keep Beaker around.

Guest Acts:
“Respect” with Miss Piggy
“Think” with Sweetums
“Jump to It” with Camilla and the Chickens

Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf got through a troubled childhood in Dallas, Texas where he was cast in high school theater productions and learned that he could sing. He used his inheritance from his mother’s death to move out to Los Angeles where he immediately started his music career. He started a band called Meat Loaf Soul after a high school football nickname. The name stuck with him. Their very first gig was opening for Van Morrison. They changed their name to Floating Circus and opened for The Who, Grateful Dead, The Stooges, and more. He got cast in the Los Angeles cast of Hair which boosted his career and then ended up in the Broadway production of the musical. He started performing in cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show in the original LA cast and acted in the movie as well. Around this time he started working heavily with Jim Steinman whose music would come to help Meat Loaf define himself as a unique rock and roll musician. He released album after album and even started a bit of a film career in the 1990s.

Meat Loaf would be great for The Muppet Show because I have often thought of him a bit like a human muppet. Whatever he has done in life, he has played it to the hilt and done his utmost to entertain. His songs are epic performances and his stage presence and voice are legendary. His movie roles in Spice World, Fight Club, and Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny show that he does not take himself too seriously. He would be a great foil for the cast.

Cold Open: Meat Loaf rides into the theater on his motorbike when Kermit goes to complain, Piggy greets him happily.

Guest Arc: Meat Loaf arrives on the Muppet Show to woo Miss Piggy who looks like she might leave the show. It is all revealed to be a scam to make Kermit jealous.

“Bat out of Hell” with the Electric Mayhem
“You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth” with Miss Piggy
“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 7

June 28, 2021

Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee. Wilder has repeatedly told the story that got him into performing. His mother was diagnosed with rheumatic fever in and the doctor told young Jerome to try and make her laugh. His older sister was an actress and he was inspired by her. He grew up a bit and got involved in the local theater scene. He was cast in his first paid role at age fifteen. He studied theater at the University of Iowa. He then studied in England before returning to the States to study at the HB Studio. After a stint in the army, he started to get work as an actor and studied under the great Uta Hagen back at the HB Studio. He then studied under Lee Strasberg at the urging of Charles Grodin. Through his connections, he started to appear Off-Broadway and on Broadway. It was during this time that he met Mel Brooks and Zero Mostel which led to him being cast in The Producers. In the seventies, his movie career picked up even more as he worked again with Mel Brooks and started his partnership with Richard Pryor. In the eighties, he started to work primarily with Gilda Radner who he later married. He remains a comedy legend although he died in 2016.

He would be perfect for the Muppet Show because of his great comic timing that is born out of his deep knowledge of the art of acting. Every role whether it was serious, comedic, or even parody was grounded from a very real place. He is one of the best actors who ever lived. He has worked with a lot of crazy and wacky comedians and kept his head so working with the Muppets would be no problem.

Cold Open: Gene assures Pops that he will be able to deal with the insanity backstage and is immediately confronted by Lew Zealand, Animal, and Gonzo.

Guest Arc: Honeydew and Beaker’s newest Muppet Labs invention has warped reality making things really weird. The Muppet Theater is invaded by evil doubles of the cast and Gene Wilder.

Guest Acts:
“Crazy” (Masser/Goodrum) with the Electric Mayhem
Kermit tries to interview Gene at Rowlf’s Piano but finds the double instead, chaos ensues when the other doubles arrive with Rowlf stuck in the middle
“Puttin’ on the Ritz” (Irving Berlin) with Kermit and then most of the cast

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar was born to European immigrants in Brooklyn with the last name of Andrzejewski. Her parents let her sign up for voice lessons, supporting her interest in singing. That interest led her to the stage as early as Elementary school and by high school, she was starring in stage musicals. She was all set to attend Julliard to be a coloratura but ended up pursuing a degree in health education instead. She got married to her high school sweetheart and got a job as a bank teller. She was inspired by a Liza Minelli concert to quit her job to pursue a singing career. She worked as a waitress while finding gigs and amateur nights where she could. That led to a record deal and she started to rocket to success. She had album after album and hit after hit. Hers was actually the second music video to be played on MTV after “Video Killed the Radio Star”. She was touring as late as 2019 (her 40th-anniversary tour) and may still tour again.

Benatar would be great for the Muppet Show not only because of her singing talent but her background as a performer and actress as well. She designed her whole look and reinvented herself from an opera singer to a rocker with relative ease. She knows what it takes to put on the best show and had released five albums by 1983.

Cold Open: Miss Piggy is picketing backstage in an effort to get more stage time when Pat walks in and supports her.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy protests that the show needs more female representation and Kermit agrees and enlists Pat Benatar, Annie Sue, Janice, and Miss Mousey to provide it.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” with cannons by Crazy Harry
“Love is a Battlefield” with the Electric Mayhem
“Heartbreaker” with the Electric Mayhem

Carol Lawrence

Carol Lawrence was born Carolina Maria Laraia and was the daughter of two Italian immigrants who ended up in Melrose Park, Illinois a suburb of Chicago. She lasted one year in college before she left to pursue acting. Her decision paid off as she found herself on Broadway at age twenty. Five years later she originated the role of Maria in West Side Story on Broadway, a legendary role. She played the role for years. She stayed on Broadway through the sixties but when the seventies rolled around, she moved on. She became the shining jewel of The Muny in St. Louis, Missouri where she starred in many famous shows and usually in the lead role. She went back and forth from there to Broadway well into the 2000s. She also made many appearances in television shows through the decades. She was a consummate leading lady and delighted many audiences.

She would be perfect for The Muppet Show because of her obvious experience on and off Broadway and her experience on television as well. She worked with a lot of different casts on a lot of different shows which shows that she can adapt. She also starred in the show Camelot which would serve her well in a fantasy tale like Cinderella.

Cold Open: Scooter comes to give Carol her warning but Miss Piggy is bringing in the glass slippers. Unfortunately, Carol points out that they’re glass shards foiling Piggy’s plot.

Guest Arc: The Muppet Theater puts on the Cinderella story with Carol as Cinderella, Gonzo as Prince Charming, Miss Piggy as the Evil Stepmother, and so on.

“I Feel Pretty” with Camilla and the chickens
“I’m a Brass Band” at the ball
“If My Friends Could See Me Now” (Coleman/Fields) back in the royal court

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 6

June 14, 2021

Lily Tomlin

Who knows where Lily Tomlin was headed after attending a technical high school and then getting into Wayne State University in her hometown of Detroit. However, she auditioned for a play and that was it. She had been bitten by the showbiz bug and she changed majors. She graduated from college and started to do stand-up comedy, hanging around in Detroit before she headed to the New York City scene. She decided to continue to study acting at the HB Studio. She got onto the Merv Griffin Show and then the Garry Moore Show which primed her for the biggest upswing in her career. She landed a part in the cast of Martin and Rowan’s Laugh-in where she developed several memorable characters and honed her craft. Her success with Laugh-In also got her a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. Meanwhile, her movie career also picked up as she was cast in Robert Altman’s Nashville which got her an Academy Award nomination. She was in tons of other hits like 9 to 5 and All of Me. Her career has continued to flourish and she is still a very big star.

One of the reasons that Tomlin would be perfect for The Muppet Show is that she already had experience with Sesame Street at the time. She sang and signed the famous song “Sing” on the show along with other appearances. At the time she was a renowned comedian who also had singing and acting chops which would serve her well on the show. She had worked on one of the most famous television variety shows in history which would be excellent preparation.

Cold Opening: Scooter comes in to give Lily her warning but apologizes when she’s on the phone (a little bit like Ernestine) but when he leaves she reveals the phone isn’t even plugged in.

Guest Arc: Sam the Eagle is on the warpath again, trying to make the show more classy. He has doubts about Tomlin but she promises to be on her best behavior and ends up mocking him.

Guest Acts:
“Dancing Queen” (Abba) with Miss Piggy and full-size Muppets who can dance
Lily has a scene with Sam the Eagle where she pretends to be as dour and serious as he is (a la The Consumer Advocate Lady)
“The Last Duet” (Manilow) Lily does sign language while singing and Animal struggles to keep up so Sweetums steps in.

Donald O’Connor

It is hard to pin down exactly where Donald was born since his parents were a vaudeville team and were always traveling. It is agreed that it was somewhere in Illinois and probably in Chicago. Apparently, his parents started his dancing career at 13 months by holding him by the back of the neck as he wiggled around to the music on stage. Unfortunately, a lot of his family died during his early childhood leaving him with only his mother and an older brother. The three formed a dancing act and Donald got to be really good at dancing without any formal training. In fact, he never did go to school at all. He made the jump from vaudeville to film when he was hired by Paramount mostly to play kid parts and, of course, to dance. He then moved to Universal where he was quickly paired with Peggy Ryan as their version of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. The Andrews Sisters were usually along for the ride as well. Not long after he came back from the War, he had a much-celebrated role in Singin’ In the Rain. He continued on Broadway, film, and television until his death in the late 90s.

Obviously, O’Connor would be great for the Muppet Show because of his experience as a performer and also his many skills. While he was not the dancer in the 1980s that he was in the 50s, he still knew how to dance and sing and he had great comic timing. On a side note, Singin’ In the Rain is one of my favorite musicals. O’Connor was a legendary performer in musicals on stage and screen and was great at adapting to the needs of their show.

Cold Open: Miss Piggy brushes past Scooter as he gives the warning and spills coffee on Donald.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy is excited to sing with Donald but spills coffee on him and tries to make it up throughout the show but keeps accidentally injuring him. In the end, he promises that there is no problem between them.

Guest Acts:
“Make ‘Em Laugh” with Fozzy and Gonzo
“Merrily Song” with Kermit at Rowlf’s piano
“It’s Delovely” with Ms. Piggy

Jerry Orbach

Orbach’s dad was born in The Bronx and his father was a vaudeville entertainer. He never performed on stage with his father but he did eventually leave college at Northwestern University a year early to pursue acting. He studied at the legendary Actor’s Studio under Lee Strasberg. He made his way onto Off-Broadway and Broadway. He quickly made a name for himself in tons of shows and was in the original casts for The Fantasticks, Chicago, and 42nd Street among many other shows. He started work in television and film working as a regular on Murder She Wrote and Dirty Dancing. He had his last major singing role as Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. After that, he was cast in the role he is now more known for as Detective Lennie Briscoe in Law and Order.

Orbach would work for the Muppet Show because he was a Broadway legend who was just starting to work more on film. He has a brilliant singing voice and a charm that served him very well in his career. Although he was starting to take on more serious roles, I think he would relish the chance to have some musical fun with the Muppets.

Cold Open: Jerry goofs around with Pops, putting on that charm

Guest Arc: The Muppets are excited when they hear that a Broadway scout will be at the show so they get Jerry to help them out. It turns out to be band info that Scooter heard.

Guest Acts:
“Lullaby of Broadway” with Rowlf, Kermit, Fozzie, and Piggy
“24 Hours from Tulsa” (Bacharach) with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers
“Razzle Dazzle” with the Electric Mayhem

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 5

May 31, 2021

S06E13 Buck Owens

Born in Texas, it was no surprise that Buck Owens grew up to be a country and western musician rather than any other genre. Owens was self-taught, learning both how to sing and how to play the guitar, horns, mandolin, and drums without instruction. He then added the steel guitar to his repertoire, a somewhat rare instrument to master but it was definitely about to make its mark on the country scene. He ended up quitting school before graduating from high school to help out at the family farm and work on his music career. He got his own radio show and became a regular musician at a couple of Arizona bars. A truck driver job brought him closer to California where he started playing as a session musician for Capitol Records, allowing him to play with legends like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wanda Jackson, Tommy Collins, Tommy Duncan, and more. He teamed with musician Tom Rich and his career took off and he put out hit after hit.

Owens would be great for the Muppet Show because he had a peppy, uptempo sound even when he was playing something sad. He co-hosted the television variety show Hee Haw so it has been proven that he can carry his own weight on television. He and his band, the Buckaroos, often wore flashy costumes and had a lot of showmanship so he could probably take anything the Muppets could dish out. His easy demeanor would make him a great straight man for the wacky Muppets.

Cold Open: Buck shows up to check in with Pops. A herd of cattle stampedes through backstage and he proclaims that he is going to be right at home.

Guest Arc: Buck arrives to find that the denizens of the Muppet Theater are experiencing a crisis of confidence. Buck sets about to instill a little less anxiety and talk the Muppets into feeling better about themselves.

Guest Acts:
“Act Naturally” with Fozzy
“I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” with a tiger and a bunch of cowboys
“Hello Trouble” with Gonzo

S06E14 Debbie Reynolds

When Debbie Reynolds was starting her career, she was almost immediately put in the center of a fight between two companies. Talent scouts had spotted her at the Ms. Burbank contest and were obviously impressed and so it was that Warner Brothers and MGM did battle for her contract with MGM winning out. They put her in a string of movie musicals which led her to her big break in Singin’ in the Rain, a pastiche of older Broadway shows and movies. She was only eighteen at the time. She kept working in movie musicals for MGM including The Unsinkable Molly Brown which earned her an Oscar nomination. She had her own television show in the seventies but quit after one year because she refused to have cigarettes advertised on her show. She went on to have a great career from there, guesting on a lot of television shows and doing voice work for cartoons. She also was introduced to a whole new generation through her appearances in the Halloweentown franchise for Disney.

Reynolds would have been perfect for the show. In 1983 she would have had a career for over thirty years and plenty of experience to draw on. She also had a lot of energy in her career and was a true triple threat. On a personal note, Singin’ in the Rain is my favorite musical. She would later have a lot of experience in voice acting which would serve her well in understanding the unique techniques at the Muppet Theater.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give Debbie her warning and she is watching Gonzo and the chickens dance.

Guest Arc: Kermit thinks some of the Muppet performers have started to fall short on their dancing skills. He enlists guest Debbie Reynolds to tap dance them through things a bit.

Guest Acts:
“Belly Up to the Bar, Boys” (Meredith Wilson) with a bunch of rowdy monsters
“Good Morning” (Brown/Freed) with Kermit and Fozzy
“Where Did You Learn to Dance?” (George Stoll) with Sweetums and Miss Piggy

S06E15 Donna Summer

Donna Summer got her start in her music career when she left home for New York City and joined a blues/rock band Crow. When that did not work out, she auditioned for the musical Hair and was hired for the Munich production. She stayed in Germany and did a few more musicals. She started to tour a bit and recorded some German versions of popular songs from the United States. She partnered with an Italian producer who helped kick her career into a higher gear. She did more recording in Europe and appeared on European television shows. With the song “Love to Love You Baby” (which she co-wrote) she really started to take off globally. Her career took flight from there and she was eventually one of the queens of Disco through the seventies with hits like “Hot Stuff”, “I Feel Love”, “Last Dance”, and more. Because she had such a varied background, her disco music was the cream of the crop and she was able to easily transition when Disco was murdered by childish people.

Donna Summer would be perfect for the Muppet Show because she truly was a musical genius. She wrote or co-wrote a lot of her songs and put new spins on things that she covered. She learned German while working in Germany and was willing to take a lot of chances. That shows that she can really go with the flow. On top of that, her energy had a white-hot intensity which also had an easiness to it which would really serve the show.

Cold Open: Donna arrives to check in with Pops and is notified that they are installing something to make her feel more at home. Gonzo suddenly plummets from above and then a disco ball lights up the room. Donna thanks Gonzo.

Guest Arc: Robin asks Donna why people hate Disco and Donna tells him that that music just keeps evolving and keeps making people feel things. She sets out to show Robin and the rest of the Muppets that the Beat still lives.

Guest Acts:
“Hot Stuff” with a bunch of firemen
“On the Radio” with Miss Piggy
“Last Dance” with the whole cast

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 4

May 17, 2021

S06E10 Tito Puente and his band

Tito relied on the GI Bill to pay to study at the Julliard School of Music. He was classically trained in conducting, orchestration, and music theory. He drew on his heritage growing up in Spanish Harlem to bring Afrolatino to the people. He was an expert in playing a lot of styles initially popularized in Hispanic countries like Boogaloo, Salsa, Latin Jazz, and more. He asserted during his lifetime that Latin Jazz was African in origin. He was inspired by Cuban and Puerto Rican sounds in his neighborhood and the Big Band sounds on the radio. While he was a bandleader, he played the timbales and the vibraphone which helped to keep the band’s rhythm. His first album was released in 1951 and he kept going from there and ended up making or appearing on what looks like nearly a hundred albums. He was a prolific musician, composer, and conductor and gained a lot of fame in the music world. He even guested on The Simpsons not long before his death. He was known as the “King of Latin Music”.

Puente would be perfect for The Muppet Show because he seemed to have boundless energy. His music was suffused with passion. His most famous song was “Oye Como Va” which was later further popularized by Carlos Santana. The Muppet Show definitely had a go-to style but they also tried to celebrate other cultures and I bet they would have loved to incorporate Puente’s unique sound and style.

Cold Open: As Tito approaches Pops to check in, Floyd and Dr. Teeth protest him trying to replace them.

Guest Arc: Tito and Kermit try to broker peace between the bands since Tito is a big fan of the Electric Mayhem. In the end, they form a supergroup for one night. Tito also enlists Miss Piggy to illustrate that the emotion in music extends beyond whatever language the song is in.

Guest Acts:
“Oye Como Va” (Tito Puente) with mambo dancers
“Guantanamera” (Traditional) with Miss Piggy
“Ran Kan Kan” (Tito Puente) with the Electric Mayhem

S06E11 Billie Hayes

Billie Hayes was born to be an entertainer. She started performing professionally at the age of nine. She took up tap dancing and apparently never stopped feeling the rush of performance. She was from Illinois so her options for growth were not so many but she started touring with Vince Genovese’s orchestra and then struck out on her own tour. She could sing, dance, and act which made her one of those sought-after ‘triple threats’. She got a big break in Lil’ Abner on Broadway and did several national tours of various Broadway shows. It was no small wonder that Sid and Marty Kroft picked her to be one of the main players on their television show HR Pufnstuff. It was here that she would play her most memorable role of Witchypoo, the main villain of the series and a role she would reprise on Lidsville and the Banana Splits Adventure Hour. She also played a similar witch character as a guest spot on Bewitched. She also played the heroic but pathetic Weenie the Genie on Lidsville. She went on to have a great career in voice acting for various very popular cartoon series.

She would be a superb guest for the Muppet Show for many obvious reasons. First, she is a triple threat and just about able to do anything required of a guest on the show. Second, she obviously did not take herself too seriously and was able to do comedy. Third, she could portray a larger-than-life character that still lives in the minds of those who grew up watching her. Fourth, and probably most important, she worked with puppets and people in suits already so she would be suited to the rigors and particular challenges of working with Henson’s crew.

Cold Open: Kermit complains to Scooter and Fozzy that they have no special guest when there is a familiar cackle and a witch buzzes them on her broom.

Guest Arc: There is no guest star but when the Muppets try to continue on with the show anyway, they are terrorized by a witch who succeeds in taking over the show. At the end, Billie reveals herself as the witch and thanks Fozzy for booking her which Fozzy forgot about.

Guest Acts:
“I Put a Spell On You” (Jay Hawkins) as the cast runs in terror
“I’m So Bad” (Oingo Boingo) with hypnotized followers
“Season of the Witch” (Donovan) with the Electric Mayhem

S06E12 Weird Al Yankovic

Alfred Yankovic took his father’s advice to heart when he told him that the key to being a success is to do what makes you happy for a living. He started playing accordion at age 7, at first having the instrument pushed on him by his parents. There was already a famous accordion player named Frankie Yankovic (no relation) and his parents felt another accordion-playing Yankovic made sense. Al was often stuck inside because his mother was overprotective and did not want him playing outside. This gave him plenty of time to practice his instrument. It also allowed him to listen to a lot of comedy and rock and roll albums and set out to figure out how to combine the two on the accordion. It was at this point that his love for comedy and the fringes of pop culture lead him to the Dr. Demento Show, an absolutely insane comedy radio show who agreed to play Al’s music on air. He went on to have a particularly unique music career that had a foundation built from parody songs. However, he does write his own songs (often pastiches of another band’s style). He even got to write and star in his own movie, UHF.

Weird Al would have been great for the Muppet Show because his sense of humor is just as strange as the Muppets. His enthusiasm for entertaining is contagious and it is hard not to laugh along with him. Unlike many parody artists, his work (and the work of his band) was high quality and his musical skill was (and is clear to see. At this point, his career was really just taking off since in 1983 he would have been only four years into his career as a recording artist. His movie UHF proves that he was willing to roll with just about any idea as long as it makes somebody smile.

Cold Open: Scooter gives Weird Al his warning but he is being petitioned by various foods to write songs about them.

Guest Arc: Weird Al makes it his mission to make Waldorf and Stadtler enjoy the show and goes all out with the help of the Muppets. In the end, Waldorf and Stadtler challenge him to sing something original but they don’t like that either.

Guest Acts:
“Another One Boards the Bus” (Yankovic) with the Electric Mayhem
“My Balogna” (Yankovic) with his accordion
“School Cafeteria” (Yankovic) with the food

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 3

May 13, 2021

S06E07 Angela Lansbury

Dame Angela Lansbury was born in Central London in 1925 and luckily for all of us, she decided to move to the United States to escape the Blitz during World War II. She studied theater in New York City before she trekked across country to Hollywood in the early 1940s. As a young woman, she got a deal with MGM and acted in 13 films. She received Oscar nominations for Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray and received a Golden Globe while still in her twenties. She kept working in film but it was theater that finally made her a star when she landed the leading role in Mame. From there she dove into musicals both on stage and on screen and started to become more of a household name. She received even more widespread fame for playing famed crime solver Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. After that ended, she went back to live theater where she is currently still working.

Lansbury would be perfect for the Muppet Show. She had tons of experience working in pretty much any medium and genre. She did stuff for kids like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, darker fare like Gaslight and Sweney Todd, and anything in between. She had already worked with animation and special effects so puppetry would not have been a problem. Her versatility has helped to keep her career fresh. She would have been working on Broadway at that point but having her on would have been great promotion for Sweeney Todd which was big at the time.

Cold Open: As Lansbury is checking in with Pops, Hilda shows up and says that nice ladies have to stick together.

Guest Arc: Lansbury tries to prove she’s not just a nice lady. She shows that she can be mean if she wants to and bullies the Muppets.

“By the Sea” (Sondheim) with Fozzy
“Bosom Buddies” (Jerry Herman) with Miss Piggy
“Little Yellow Bird” (Murphy/Hargreaves) with a little yellow bird puppet

S06E08 Mel Brooks

Mel Brooks is definitely one of the all-time kings of American comedy. He got his start in the 1950s as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar’s Show of Shows, a trial by fire similar to more modern shows like Saturday Night Live. It obviously allowed him to train his comedy and writing chops. He continued to work with Caesar until the 1960s where he got his first celebrity when he and Carl Reiner created the 2000-year-old man routine where Reiner would interview Brooks as he played a man who had been alive for thousands of years. The routine was a hit on The Steve Allen Show. He had a brush with writing for Broadway and then he co-created the hit television show Get Smart. The success of that show helped vault him into a career writing and directing (and sometimes starring in) his own movies. His name became known for parody and satire and goofy yet smart humor. Films like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and more became huge cult classics and innovated comedy movies.

Brooks would have been a solid choice for The Muppet Show because he never once took himself seriously. As a writer and a guy who came from a live television background, he has always been comfortable with rolling with the punches. Brooks was happy to adlib and goof around with his friends and just about anybody. At this point, he had already worked with several people who were guests on the show in the first five seasons.

Cold Open: Scooter comes to give the warning but stays to try and pitch an idea.

Guest Arc: The Muppets think that Brooks is there as a big shot producer but he is really there as a performer. They keep pitching things to a flabbergasted and confused Brooks.

Guest Acts:
“If You Love Me Baby, Tell Me Loud” (Brooks) with Sweetums and Electric Mayhem
Pitch Meeting: Crazy Harry, Lew Zealand, and Gonzo
“Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst” (Brooks) with Rowlf at the piano

S06E09 Scatman Crothers

The man who would become Scatman Crothers started his musical career when he was still a teenager. He was a self-educated musician and eventually took the moniker of Scatman for the obvious reason that he used a lot of scat singing in his act. He moved from Ohio to Los Angeles and his career picked up. He did USO tours with Bob Hope. Starting n the 1970s, his career as an actor picked up because he had roles in Hello Dolly, The Great White Hope, The Aristocats, The Shining, Silver Streak, and more. He eventually moved into voice acting and became the voice of Hong Kong Phooey and Meadowlark Lemon of the Globetrotters. He guested on tons of popular television shows and gained legend by being everywhere for a while.

He would have been perfect for the Muppet Show because he had nearly bottomless levels of charisma. Energy just seemed to pour out of the Scatman and he had great acting and musical talent. When somebody is a consummate performer, it is easy to imagine them in almost any scenario.

Cold Open: Pops and Scatman are greeting each other enthusiastically when they have a run in with JP Grosse.

Guest Arc: JP Grosse, the owner of the Muppet Theater, shows up wanting to raise ticket prices. Kermit enlists Scatman to show him the errors of his ways.

“Ain’t She Sweet” (Ager/Yellen) With Miss Piggy
“Blue-eyed Sally” With the Electric Mayhem
“The Best Things in Life Are Free” (Gordon McRae) with Kermit

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 2

May 3, 2021

S06E04 Sally Field

Sally Field jumped right into a television career in 1965 with the starring role of Gidget in Gidget. The show did not do very well when it aired but the show gained a cult following and was one of the few single-season shows to go into syndication. Studios were still high on Fields so they cast her in The Flying Nun, once again in the title role. She kept working regularly in television until moving into Hollywood movies. She started in 1976 and quickly followed up with more iconic movies like Smokey and the Bandit and Norma Rae. She had established herself as more than a pretty face with comedy skills as she had enough experience in dramas too. She had even more memorable roles in Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Doubtfire, Forrest Gump, and (important to me) Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, her first real voice acting role. She continues to be a welcome addition to movies and television shows.

Field would have been great as a guest for The Muppet Show because of her great comic timing combined with her deceptive sweetness. She could definitely hold her own in comedies and was always a hard worker, something necessary for the difficulties involved with working with puppets. She actually did later do some work on Sesame Street in a bit where she did impersonations of Sesame Street characters. On occasion, she definitely showed that she could carry a tune in a good old-school Broadway style.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give Field her warning. She thanks him. The camera pans over to Uncle Deadly who tells her that’s more than enough time for love.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy thinks that Sally Field will come and ask her to be in a movie but Sally is always talking to somebody else. (ie Gonzo and Animal asking her if she can really fly, Annie Sue and Miss Mousey having tea with her, etc.)

Guest Acts:
“Find Yourself A Rainbow” with the Electric Mayhem
Tea with Miss Mousey, Annie Sue, and an interrupting Miss Piggy
“You’re Moving Out Today” with Sweetums

S06E05 Robin Williams

Robin Williams started as a standup comedian in 1976 in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was through stand-up that he developed his fast-paced delivery with a thousand and one tangents. He did impressions, he sang impromptu songs, and he somehow did not run out of breath. He was not on stage long before he was picked up for television in 1978 for Mork and Mindy (working for Richard Pryor before that). His penchant for the absurd won over America and the World at large as his star kept rising. He starred in his first movie (Popeye) in 1980 and kept on going from there. He eventually landed the part of one of the most iconic Disney characters, Genie in Aladdin which fully utilized his unique delivery. He later moved into more dramatic roles, stretching his talent further and further which established his legend status.

Robin was actually scheduled and announced to guest an episode of Season 4 of The Muppet Show but for unknown reasons, it was canceled. He did go on to guest on Sesame Street quite a few times in some very quirky and fun bits. Robin would have been perfect for The Muppet Show. His energy is practically a mix of Animal, Rowlf, and Fozzie already. He could have sung any number of songs and traded quips with the Muppets with no problems. What could have been!

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give Robin his 5 minute warning but shakes his head as he finds Robin throwing fish around with Lew Zealand.

Guest Arc: Robin makes it known that he wants his appearance to be an audition to become a muppet so he keeps hamming it up in hopes that he’ll be a permanent part of the show.

Guest Acts:
Stand-up Routine Doing Impressions of Muppets, Ending with Sparring with Waldorf and Statler
“This Heart is Closed for Alterations” with The Electric Mayhem
“Come Together” – with Gonzo

S06E06 Leslie Nielsen

Though he was legally deaf, Nielsen joined the Canadian Air Force to escape his abusive father but he was too young and left before seeing any action. He briefly had a radio career before he went to school to further that career. He got a scholarship from the Neighborhood Playhouse and then he attended the Actors Studio, both of which trained him in acting and pulled him from Canada to the US. His early work ended up being unexciting but he finally broke through with Forbidden Planet, a science fiction adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. His career started to pick up with roles in projects for MGM, Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, and more. His early career reached its pinnacle when he starred in the Poseidon Adventure.

However, what makes him perfect for the Muppet Show is what came next. In 1980, he appeared in the parody movie Airplane! as a doctor on board a disastrous airline flight. What those filmmakers were able to do was to help Nielsen weaponize his deadpan and serious delivery and make it into pure humor. His career quickly settled into a new gear as he went on to use a combination of earnestness and bumbling slapstick to climb new heights. He moved on to be a much more beloved and memorable actor than he would have been as a normal leading man. Seeing him act alongside the muppets would be a beautiful contrast.

Cold opening: Pops frantically searches his office as Leslie Nielsen walks up. He has been robbed.

Guest Arc: Several items have gone missing backstage. Word gets out that Leslie is an undercover private detective and is at The Muppet Show to solve the case.

Guest Acts:
“Wanted Man” (Johnny Cash) – With a bunch of rough customer monsters
“Watching the Detectives” (Elvis Costello) – With Miss Piggy and Fozzy
The scene where Leslie arrests Animal

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 1

April 15, 2021

This started out as a Top 11 list of performers that I wish had been on The Muppet Show before it ended in 1981. The project has since expanded a bit and I decided to write a few ideas on my fantasy Season 6 of The Muppet Show.

S06E01 Elaine Stritch

Long before she was “just” Jack Donaghy’s mother, Elaine Stritch was a true legend. She started her Broadway career on stage in 1946 with a role in Loco. She got her big break when she understudied for Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam at the same time as she was starring in Pal Joey. Before that, she had already gotten into television in 1948. Both careers flourished and she became one of the venerated names in theater circles especially. She could sing, she could joke, and she could do drama. She was a consummate performer. In her later years, she proved she could basically be a stand-up comedian doing a one-woman show called Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

Her self-deprecating humor proves that she does not take herself too seriously and would have been a great fit for The Muppet Show aesthetic. She was also consistently working in England at the time which is where the show was filmed. Her schedule was probably pretty tight but I am sure a deal could have been worked out to allow her to film an episode.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give Elaine her 25 second warning. Elaine is not sure about her makeup artist as Bunsen and Beaker aim and fire a “makeup cannon”.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy is made to be Elaine’s understudy. She pays Gonzo to sabotage Stritch but keeps getting hurt by his efforts.

Guest Acts:

“Zip” (Rodgers/Hart) with Rowlf on Grand Piano and the Electric Mayhem
“It’s Today” (Jerry Herman) solo with Gonzo’s traps going off
“Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch” (Sondheim) – A duet with Ms. Piggy

S06E02 Christopher Lee

Since they already had Vincent Price on the show, I am shocked that they did not contact the man who was basically his British counterpart, Christopher Lee. Like Price, Lee exuded a powerful aura of charisma that made him perfect for roles like Dracula, Scaramanga, and Saruman. In fact, he still holds the record of playing Dracula the most times on film at 10. He lent his rich, deep voice to voice-over work starting with a German dub of a Danish animated film. He continued to work in animation and eventually added video games to his resume. He was more than just an actor as he could also sing. He sang for the soundtracks of movies he starred in and he would later put out several metal albums that often mixed opera with heavy metal.

He would have been a natural for The Muppet Show and his deep baritone would have been a change from the usual higher-pitched guests. He has the ability to go dark and spooky (like Price or Zero Mostel) but also the abilities needed for comedy.

Cold Open: Christopher Lee arrives backstage and doorman Pops quickly hides from him. Lee remarks on how odd it is for backstage to be so empty.

Guest Arc: The Muppets are afraid of Lee backstage but he does not do anything scary. Eventually, he does The Monster Mash to give them what they want.

Guest Acts:

“Man of La Mancha” (Leigh/Darion) with rat townspeople and Rizzo as his Sancho Panza.
“Ghostriders in the Sky” (Johnny Cash) with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers
“The Monster Mash” (Bobby Pickett) with assorted monsters

S06E03 Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor began his career as a stand-up comedian in New York City in 1963. He performed alongside luminaries like Nina Simone and Bob Dylan. He started as a clean comic and achieved some success, appearing on Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show, and Merv Griffin. He had regular gigs in Las Vegas. However, he was not creatively fulfilled because he decided to evolve his act. He started lacing it with profanity but also being more honest and with higher energy. In the 1970s he was writing for television shows like Sanford and Son and The Flip Wilson Show. In 1972 he appeared in his first film (Lady Sings The Blues). He co-wrote comedy hit Blazing Saddles and had several memorable movies alongside Gene Wilder. He continued to star in movies, proving how brilliant of a comedic actor he could be.

Pryor’s manic energy made him a great candidate for The Muppet Show. His very expressive face also lent itself to delivering hilarious reactions, something that would serve him well among jokesters like Frank Oz and Jim Henson. While he was not really known for it in his later career, he actually started his career briefly as a singer. He had a jazzy sound and a good voice and it would have been amazing for him to be able to show that off again. He also had a cameo in The Muppet Movie.

Cold Open: Kermit is dealing with a packed backstage full of people who want to meet Richard Pryor. He clears them out in time for Pryor to arrive. Kermit meets Pryor and asks him to keep it clean.

Guest Arc: Kermit is nervous because of Pryor’s reputation as a dirty comic. He tries to keep Fozzie, Robin, and Sam away from him but in the end, Pryor proves he’s a professional.

Guest Acts:

Pryor and the Electric Mayhem try to teach Fozzy and Gonzo to be cool
“Having a Party” (Sam Cooke) with Janice, The Electric Mayhem, and a crowd
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