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The Muppet Show: Season 1 Review

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Guarenteed to make everyone on your sofa all warm inside.

★★★★★

What, exactly, is a Muppet? Scientists have long struggled with this question, none quite managing to top Homer Simpson’s suggestion that “it’s not quite a mop, not quite a puppet”. Perhaps we’ll have to make do with a comment offered by creator Jim Henson in 1982: “They’re sort of fuzzy, bright-coloured, cute, loveable caricatures...”

That’s all true, but he forgot one crucial factor. What sets The Muppet Show apart from Sesame Street, its daytime counterpart, is the joyous sense of anarchy. There’s no time for educational rhymes or letters of the day here, not while Dr. Honeydew could be melting down Muppet Labs, the Swedish Chef playing tennis with meatballs or Animal thrashing his drum-kit.

Held together — just about — by Kermit, the format is that of a wild, fast-moving variety show. The spotlight swings from song ’n’ dance numbers (all brilliant and often psychedelic, as befits the smoked-out appearance of the Electric Mayhem band) to stand-up routines (dreadful, in a good way) and lots of skits that need to be filed under ‘Miscellaneous’.

The show got slicker and more technically advanced as it went along; some characters in this first season, most noticeably Miss Piggy, are in their design infancy. But thanks to Henson and his immensely talented team of writers, musicians and puppeteers, all the magic was there right from the start.