So today’s Sunday Matinee is a response of sorts to One Million Moms complaint over the newest incarnation of The Muppet Show, The Muppets. Now I haven’t seen the latest incarnation or really anything since Jim Henson passed away but it sounds like they’ve mad at ABC trying make the show aimed at adults, with less innuendo and more blatant “sexually charged jokes.”
From what I’ve read of reviews, this new show doesn’t sound very good in general – showrunner Bill Prady is trying for more “real” take on the characters and has turned them all into cynical versions of themselves. I won’t defend a show I haven’t seen but I’m going to take a look back at Jim Henson’s original masterpiece from 1976 The Muppet Show.
Jim Henson had been working with puppets since the 1950’s when he worked on Sam and Friends in 1954. He had performed some acts for the Ed Sullivan Show and then worked on Sesame Street which is definitely a kids show.
From Sesame Street Henson worked on the first season of Saturday Night Live doing muppet sketches set in the Land of Gorch. It didn’t really work to well on SNL but Henson started pitching what would become The Muppet Show.
There was two TV pilots produced that aired on ABC but didn’t catch on. The first was The Muppet Valentine Show. The second was The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. In 1976 Henson and company got their break on CBS and The Muppet Show hit the air for the next five years, ending on a high note followed by three feature length movies.
The show was set up as a variety half hour show following Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and many characters as celebrity guest starred on that week’s episode. No celebrity ever appeared twice. The show was made up of several skits and musical numbers. Despite the muppets, the show was aimed at an adult audience but the brilliance of Henson and his crew was that kids could watch it too without catching too many of the subtle adult jokes.
There are way too many skits to choose from so I just grabbed a couple of the more obvious ones that show that it wasn’t quite aimed for kids. There’s probably even better examples but it would be easier to just go watch The Muppet Show.