HTF REVIEW: "The Best of The Muppet Show" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Best of The Muppet Show

    Studio: Columbia
    Year: 1976 - 1981
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 80 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: None

    It’s time to play the music.
    It’s time to light the lights
    It’s time to meet the Muppets
    on the Muppet Show tonight

    Due to the amount of screener product I have
    had to do recently, I have had to delay this
    particular review for the past few weeks. I am
    happy that I finally had the opportunity this
    morning to finally sit down and watch two of the
    very first DVD releases that represent the Best
    of The Muppet Show.
    While the "Muppets" (the combination of the words
    ‘marionette’ and ‘puppet') had been around on
    television for the past two decades, it was tough
    for Henson to sell his idea of a variety show to
    the major networks who had labeled his creations
    as kiddie fare. Henson ended up taking his Muppet
    staff to England, where he had set up a deal with
    English entrepreneur Sir Lew Grade to finance
    The Muppet Show. Not only did it become the
    most popular first-run syndicated series in
    television history, it also became the most widely
    seen television show of the late seventies.
    The weekly variety show was actually a show within
    a show, with Kermit as the producer/host of Muppet
    Theater. Kermit had the considerable task of
    keeping guests and Muppets happy, fending off Miss
    Piggy's advances, bolstering Fozzie's confidence
    after another joke falls flat, and tolerating
    Gonzo's bizarre stunts. The show became a hip
    place for big-name stars to make appearances. Among
    the greats were Elton John, Peter Sellers,
    Rudolf Nureyev, Zero Mostel, Steve Martin
    Alice Cooper.
    Within the past year, Time Life began releasing
    The Muppet Show on DVD as a subscription
    series. Soon afterwards, Columbia Tristar Home
    Entertainment also began releasing episodes as a
    "best of" series. These first two 25th Anniversary
    Edition DVDs feature 3 full-length shows each,
    including Special Bonus Material.
    The first DVD release features guests Mark Hamill,
    Paul Simon
    and Raquel Welch. The second
    DVD features Elton John, Julie Andrews and
    Gene Kelly.
    It's hard to pick a favorite show or even a favorite
    DVD here. All of these episodes are clear winners.
    There's Elton John singing "Don't Go
    breaking my heart" with Miss Piggy. Gene Kelly
    decides to take a break from being a guest star only
    to be coaxed on stage to perform a dance number with
    Kermit. Of course, there's the highly popular Star
    show with guest-star Mark Hamill and
    his co-horts C3PO and R2D2 hijacking PIGS IN SPACE
    in order to rescue the kidnapped Chewbacca.
    How is the transfer?
    While transfer quality looks very good, you can
    see how the clarity of the DVD format brings out
    the limitations of the original video broadcasts.
    There's a lack of sharpness and detail in the
    picture. You also get occasional ghosting --
    especially in the opening curtain shots where
    Kermit enthusiastically introduces the show.
    Otherwise, there excellent color rendering here
    and images remain mostly clean throughout.
    Unfortunately none of these shows were preserved
    in stereo. The mono sound and absence of any
    dynamic range severely limits the impact of most
    of the great musical numbers found here. I found
    myself having to raise the volume a bit, but
    fortunately in doing so, there was no introduction
    of background hiss.
    Special Features
    There was a real attempt to make these DVDs a fun
    and enjoyable experience for the fans.
    The content of these DVDs are laid out wonderfully,
    thanks to extensive menus that break down the show
    by various skits. There's no hassle trying to find
    your favorite episode of Pigs in Space, Swedish
    or soap opera Veterinarians' Hospital.
    Each show contains an introduction by Brian Henson
    who tells you a little history of the episode you
    are about to watch. For instance, Elton John didn't
    originally want to wear flamboyant costumes on the
    show (just getting out of that period of his life).
    Gene Kelly made a point of not wanting to sing his
    signature song, "Singin' In The Rain". But of
    course, the Muppets always win and both performers
    succumbed to the charms of the show's characters.
    Each DVD contains a set of Muppet Extras
    that are quite hilarious. I was rolling in laughter
    as I watched the cast audition for the part of Yoda
    in The Empire Strikes Back. And just wait till
    you see the trailer for Kermit's broadway premiere
    in Flipperdance. There's also some neat
    original artist sketches of Muppet favorites.
    There are also trailers for Muppet movies
    and programs available on DVD.
    Final Thoughts
    It's easy to see why The Muppets had such universal
    appeal for both adults and children. These foam-rubber
    creations had a realistic, human-like warmth that made
    them easy to love. The Best of Muppet Show is
    a wonderful reflection of how Henson's popular
    characters became a sensational inspirational
    celebrational Muppetational part of our lives.
    Release Date: Now
  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Nice review, Ron!
    I have to agree with pretty much everything you said about these, which are identical to the Time/Life versions that have been out over a year. In fact, if you missed the thread(s), you should know that T/L has 15 out total now: 10 from the past year, and now 5 more. All great discs. [​IMG]
  3. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

    Jul 16, 2002
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    As always Ron, thanks for the great review.

    These discs sure sound like a lot of fun. Any chance of our getting full season sets of The Muppet Show? I'd really prefer them in this format.
  4. John Knowles

    John Knowles Stunt Coordinator

    May 17, 1999
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    Twin Cities, MN
    Real Name:
    I've really enjoyed seeing these discs and I'm thinking that they look as good as they ever will. But, I too would much rather have these available in season sets.
  5. Kajs

    Kajs Second Unit

    Jun 22, 2001
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    Aren't these pretty expensive for 3 shows a disc?

    Everyone is always seems to be complaining about the "I Love Lucy" discs that have a list price $10 cheaper than these Muppet discs and include 1 more episode.
  6. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
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    I agree with Kurt. For all 15 discs, I paid an average of $14.50 through Time/Life. [​IMG] MUCH better! :wink:
  7. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

    Aug 7, 2001
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    Well I have to admit, I never seen a episode of the Muppet show, the only show I ever watch of them was the Muppet Baby show (I am that lame). So I betting they are funnier then that?
  8. Brenton

    Brenton Screenwriter

    Jun 25, 2002
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    I would pick these up in a heartbeat if they were released in season sets. But I can't justify paying the price-per-episode of these ones.

    I had the unfortunate experience of being born in the wrong time, unable to experience the Muppet Show firsthand. But I am a big fan of what the Muppets were before Henson's death, and would love it if these episodes were released in season sets.
  9. James_Garner

    James_Garner Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 1, 2002
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    Real Name:
    James Garner
    Although I also prefer season-by-season sets of TV shows, I can't fault Columbia/Tristar & Time-Life for wanting to go the "3-episode-a-DVD" route for the Muppets. They're trying to aim for the family market with these particular titles, and that's hard to do with $40-50 to $100 price tags for a family-oriented box set.
  10. Dan Stone

    Dan Stone Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 28, 2001
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    I'm really hoping they continue the series and eventually release the episode where Ozzy Osbourne and Miss Piggy sing 'Born To Be Wild.'

    That has to be one of my favorite all-time TV moments.
  11. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

    Sep 15, 1999
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    I got the star wars disc few weeks ago and enjoyed it a lot! It brought back many childhood memories. I loved the Star Wars cast singing “When You Wish U…” at the end.

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