This is a new series on The Muppet Mindset where I keep a diary all about the Muppet things I’ve watched over the past week. I’ll explain more in the actual diary. I just thought I should preface it with these pesky italics. Aren’t they wonderful, folks?
The Diary of an Obsessed Muppet Fan – Entry 1, February 14, 2010
Well, this is awkward… it’s the first time we’ve met and I’ve already got my pen inside of you. Anywho, I just thought I’d welcome you to my mind. If you need anything there’s a bathroom in the back corner and the kitchen is up the stairs and 100 paces South-North.
As my diary, it is now your solemn duty to put up with me no matter what on earth I may want to write inside of you. I could write a dark, unspeakable secret–or I could just write my Aunt Phyllis’s famous peanut butter carp recipe. Either way, you’re in for a stomach ache.
Lucky for you, my dearest Diary, I’ll only be writing Muppet things in you. Yes, with you keeping me diligent, it is my goal to watch at least one Muppet thing in my extensive collection during the week. I’m starting with The Muppet Show Season 1 on DVD and working my way through in somewhat-chronological order. Those are the basic guidelines… So until I run out of Muppet stuff to watch, you’re stuck with me! (And once we find that anti-adhesive…)
The Muppet Show Season 1 is where I started myself this week. Yes, hailed by the box as a “Special Edition,” and only known as special to Muppet fans because it’s the only place you can find incomplete episodes of The Muppet Show, Season 1 was where Muppets like Fozzie, Gonzo, and The Electric Mayhem got their start. I discovered many things in my viewings this week… some of which don’t matter at all–most of which, actually–and some of which only matter a little bit.
One of those things is the fact that I’m extremely glad Miss Piggy was permanently taken over by Frank Oz. Don’t get me wrong, I love Richard Hunt. Our porcine goddess just wasn’t nearly as dynamic on the hand of Hunt as she is on the fingers of Frank. (Cute. Cute alliteration.) It seemed that with Richard Piggy was mainly an excuse for pig puns, while with Frank Piggy developed into the magnificent character the world knows her as today. Whenever Frank was performing, Piggy just seemed to click more as a character–I guess that happened a lot with Frank Oz. I wonder if he ever got tired of developing wonderful characters?
Another thing I really enjoyed about this season was watching Fozzie and Kermit’s relationship develop. They started out as just a boss/employee relationship but developed into so much more. Jerry Juhl credits this change with happening during the “Good grief, the comedian’s a bear” sketch, but I like to attribute it to Fozzie’s running gags in the Candace Bergen episode (“Letter for Kermit the Frog! Are you Kermit the Frog?”). Kermit’s reactions are priceless and his attempts to get Fozzie back are even better. I just love watching the frog and the bear joke around. My therapist thinks I’m quite normal. (My therapist is also the sturdiest coat rack in all the land!)
There is really just so much that happens in this season (considering that it’s the first season, I’m glad that something happened in it). My favorite episodes include Joel Grey, Rita Moreno, Paul Williams, Peter Ustinov, Candice Bergen, Phyllis Diller, Twiggy, and Ethel Merman. I adore George and Mildred in the “At the Dance” sketches, the great Panel Discussions, Hilda’s “ha-has,” and anything Rowlf does on piano.
However, there are some elements from Season 1 that just don’t click with this blogger. The Talking Houses, for instance. I always found them bland and boring. I also fell asleep during most of the acts where guest stars danced by themselves to boring music. Thank goodness that tradition was kicked in the pants after Season 1. There were also many guest stars who were just awkward with the Muppets. Ben Vereen stands out as the biggest example of this–and those Mummenschanz guys! They didn’t even talk!
For each entry here in this lovely little Diary, I’ll try to pick a defining moment for each thing I watch. Something that says, “This is what the Muppets are about!” And for The Muppet Show Season 1, I think that moment is actually a tie (first entry and I’m already indecisive… sheesh). I think the defining moment of this season is either Fozzie’s running gag fest with Kermit or Ethel Merman and the Muppets performing “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” The first shows off the special… sensibility the Muppets have with puns and slapstick wit while the performance with Ethel Merman shows off their great desire to perform and entertain. (Statler and Waldorf: “Neither of which they do well!”)
Well, Diary, that’s about it for today’s entry… We’ll see you all next time on the next page!
Yours with moderate indifference,
Ryan Dosier, Obsessed Muppet Fan
President & CEO of Nothing At All Industries
A Division of Completely Pointless, Inc.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier