DVD Review: THE MUPPET SHOW SEASON THREE @ 28 May 2008 07:57 PM
This set marks the third of five seasons that will hopefully all come to DVD soon. After watching the first three seasons, it only serves to remind me how great this show was and how today's families are fortunate for the opportunity to see this kind of quality and creativity today.
Genius is a word commonly attributed to Jim Henson, as well as some of his longtime collaborators, such as Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson, but the show itself is an ingenious concoction as well. Under the guise of constant self-deprecation, it is actually a meticulously crafted blend of vaudeville, TV variety and satire that constantly reflects within itself with a sharp irony much like that which is attributed to David Letterman and Conan O'Brien. It's a variety show that sends up variety shows.
In the first season DVD set, you could trace the development of the characters, particularly Miss Piggy. She went from being a chorus girl (often with differing voices) to a major international star. I'll never forget when Siskel and Ebert went into a lengthy debate about her performance in The Great Muppet Caper, before catching themselves in the absurdity of it all ("Can you believe we're talking about a piece of foam with more depth than many flesh and blood actors performing today?")
By season three, the show had found its identity and gained the kind of clout and chic that attracted the "in" celebrities of the day (Gilda Radner, for example). Ironically, some of these guest stars are the most dated aspects of the series. The bizarre, unpredictable style of a series at its peak is very much in evidence. The Loretta Lynn episode takes place in a railroad station, the Marisa Berenson show features the "wedding" of Kermit and Piggy, and the Lynn Redgrave show is an original musical version of "Robin Hood."
For fans of "Muppet*Vision 3-D" at the Disney parks, there are echoes in the Spike Milligan episode (which has a "Small World" finale) and the masterful show with Pearl Bailey that randomly combines Broadway show tunes with reckless abandon.
Not much in the way of extras, though the "Muppets on Puppets," a black and white documentary created for public TV in 1968, is a treat. A sweet new documentary short, "The Making of The Muppets," is just that, sweet but short. It would have been nice to have more of those pop-ups that added so much inside info to the Season One set -- not that I'm complaining, though, I'm just glad to have this show on DVD and love sharing it with the kids.
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