Muppets Tonight Season Two (TV 1996)

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This Season Two was originally just the rest of Season One that was cancelled part way through.

Here’s the episode list:

  • Prince
  • Rick Moranis
  • Heather Locklear
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Coolio & Don Rickles
  • Paula Abdul
  • Dennis Quaid
  • Cameo Show
  • Best of Muppets Tonight
  • Gary Cahuenga
  • Andie MacDowell
  • Johnny Fiama Leaves Home

This was going really well until the last couple of episodes. then it all fell apart. I suspect that was because the higher ups knew the axe was coming.

Objectively speaking, I don’t know why this failed. I laughed quite a bit and was amused. I think part of the failure was that there wasn’t that same family bonbomie from the Muppet Show. I think audience expectations had changed as had studio expectations.

But while I laughed and enjoyed the skits, each time an episode was done I wasn’t ready for the next episode to play like I was with the Muppet Show. Something that I can’t describe was missing from this tv show. Whatever that missing ingredient was, that’s what doomed this show. Personally, I think it had something to do with Jim Henson not being involved, as he was dead by this time.

Still, this was a fun little show to watch. I do wish I had watched this BEFORE Muppets from Space, as that movie used this set of muppets. It also introduces muppets that we see in Treasure Island, most notably Clueless the goat and Pepe the prawn. Knowing they’re not just random characters made up for the movies makes their characters even better.

I think for my next choice I’ll be watching Muppet Treasure Island which was done in 1996 as well.

Muppets Tonight Season One (TV 1996)

This new Muppet Show was re-tooled for the 90’s and the talkshow circuit that was the backbone of late night tv.

Here’s the guestlist for this short season.

  • Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Garth Brooks
  • Billy Crystal
  • John Goodman
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Tony Bennett
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Jason Alexander
  • Whoopi Goldberg

So, the quick run down is this. Kermit decides to do a tv show but doesn’t want to host it himself. So he suckers in a new Muppet, named Clifford, into being the host. With a whole new set of muppets mixed in with the old crew. The stars were pretty big, as you can see. They also had a lot more involvement in the show than in the previous Muppet Show.

I enjoyed this. The skits were funny and the jokes made me laugh. Even the new muppets had their charm.

Which leads into the issues and the shows eventual quick cancellation. 22 episodes were made and it was turned into 2 seasons. First, while things ARE funny, at times they are just trying too hard and it shows. Second, many of the guests get a bit more angry than I’m comfortable with. Other people getting angry, even in fun, gets me angry too. It’s not a good feedback loop. Finally, while some of the old Muppets were around, they weren’t around enough and I didn’t gel with some of the new ones. Clifford the new host didn’t work for me like Kermit had. They had a new bear! And Fozzy only made an appearance twice. The new bear was a security guard and was interesting but he just wasn’t Fozzie.

I guess I’m conflicted. I enjoyed this but saw some serious flaws that didn’t occur with the original Muppet Show. If I could find these on dvd, I would probably buy them, just like Seasons 4 and 5 of the Muppet Show. Sadly, no such thing exists, as far as I know.

I am looking forward to Season Two but really am hoping Clifford stops annoying me so much.

Muppet Show Season Five (TV 1980)

The fifth and final season of the Muppet Show is probably the best. Here’s the guest list:

Episode 501: Gene Kelly
Episode 502: Loretta Swit
Episode 503: Joan Baez
Episode 504: Shirley Bassey
Episode 505: James Coburn (includes U.K. Spot “Bird Walk”)
Episode 506: Brooke Shields
Episode 507: Glenda Jackson
Episode 508: Señor Wences
Episode 509: Debbie Harry
Episode 510: Jean-Pierre Rampal
Episode 511: Paul Simon
Episode 512: Melissa Manchester
Episode 513: Tony Randall (includes Tony’s song)
Episode 514: Mac Davis
Episode 515: Carol Burnett
Episode 516: Gladys Knight
Episode 517: Hal Linden (includes Hal and Robin’s song)
Episode 518: Marty Feldman (includes the Sesame Street Theme)
Episode 519: Chris Langham (despite the controversy)
Episode 520: Wally Boag (includes the gibberish lullaby)
Episode 521: Johnny Cash
Episode 522: Buddy Rich (includes U.K. Spot “Transport of Delight”)
Episode 523: Linda Ronstadt
Episode 524: Roger Moore

This guest list is what I found on IMDB but it is in a very different order from what I actually watched. It doesn’t matter though, as the Muppet show really didn’t make an issue of the first episode or the final episode of a season. I really feel that this was the best season to date. They had gotten the skits down to a science, only made bad jokes when it was really appropriate (instead of all the time) and the guests were really acting like they were visiting a tv show instead of being allowed to showcase themselves. My only issue was that Fozzy Bear got short shrift and had no regular act whereas to be heckled by the Old Duo. Instead he kept trying to butt in to other acts and overall had much less of a stage presence than in previous seasons.

I had to go look up why this was the last season as it just felt so strong. Turns out that the producers were running out of ideas and instead of running the show into the ground, they decided to end it on a high note. Man, I sure do wish tv today would do that. So my respect for this show got even higher.

This little Year of the Muppets thing has been a smashing success so far. Even the movie Muppets Take Manhattan, while the weakest of the bunch, was still enjoyable. Now that I’ve come to the end of the regular show, I have to decide what to do next. I am going to list out my options so it’s easy for me to think about: I’ll have to make a decision soon so as to be able to review it for next month

  • The Muppets Wizard of Oz – 2005 movie
  • Muppets Tonight – 2 season tv show from 1996
  • Muppets Now – 6 episode tv show from 2020
  • The Muppets – 2011 movie
  • Muppets Most Wanted – 2014 sequel to the above movie
  • Muppets from Space – 1999 movie
  • Fraggle Rock – 5 season tv show from 1983

As you can see, I still have a lot of mileage left in the Muppet Franchise. It wouldn’t surprise me if I try to extend this Muppet thing out into next year.

But this original Muppet Show that has run for 5 seasons is a complete smashing success with me. Loved it and highly recommend it even to cynical adults 😉

Muppet Show Season Four (TV 1979)

Oh, this was GOOOOD! While Season 3 had me worried about the infusion of cash and the “largification” of the show, this had all of that and it was done to perfection! Here’s the guest list for the season:

  • Episode 401: John Denver
  • Episode 402: Crystal Gayle
  • Episode 403: Shields & Yarnell
  • Episode 404: Dyan Cannon
  • Episode 405: Victor Borge
  • Episode 406: Linda Lavin
  • Episode 407: Dudley Moore
  • Episode 408: Arlo Guthrie
  • Episode 409: Beverly Sills
  • Episode 410: Kenny Rogers
  • Episode 411: Lola Falana
  • Episode 412: Phyllis George
  • Episode 413: Dizzy Gillespie
  • Episode 414: Liza Minnelli
  • Episode 415: Anne Murray
  • Episode 416: Jonathan Winters
  • Episode 417: Star Wars
  • Episode 418: Christopher Reeve
  • Episode 419: Lynda Carter
  • Episode 420: Alan Arkin
  • Episode 421: Doug Henning
  • Episode 422: Andy Williams
  • Episode 423: Carol Channing
  • Episode 424: Diana Ross

This was a wetdream of late 70’s, early 80’s stars. I mean, Luke Skywalker, Superman and Wonderwoman! Plus all those other people 😉

I enjoyed this season so much. One of the episodes, the one with Jonathan Winters, has the show put under a gypsy curse. By the end of the show everyone was speaking faux swedish and I was laughing so hard I had to stand up just so I could breathe. What more can you ask from a 25minute tv show?

This show continues to hit my funny bone and I am just loving it. I am looking forward to the fifth and final season. Thank goodness Disney finally came to their bloody senses and did what they should have done decades ago.

The Muppet Show Season Three (1978)

Man, things really had money poured on them for this season. The little hole in the wall theatre has had some upgrades so it’s a lot bigger and glitzier. The backstage now consists of a whole restaurant style thing plus the regular table and dressing rooms. In one episode they even took the show to a trainstation and had it there. Everything just screamed “more money, hurray!”.

I have not previously listed out who starred in each episode, but the star power really went up (money, money, money) and I think I’ll include it this time around.

  • Episode 301: Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge
  • Episode 302: Leo Sayer
  • Episode 303: Roy Clark
  • Episode 304: Gilda Radner
  • Episode 305: Pearl Bailey
  • Episode 306: Jean Stapleton
  • Episode 307: Alice Cooper
  • Episode 308: Loretta Lynn
  • Episode 309: Liberace
  • Episode 310: Marisa Berenson
  • Episode 311: Raquel Welch
  • Episode 312: James Coco
  • Episode 313: Helen Reddy
  • Episode 314: Harry Belafonte
  • Episode 315: Lesley Ann Warren
  • Episode 316: Danny Kaye
  • Episode 317: Spike Milligan
  • Episode 318: Leslie Uggams
  • Episode 319: Elke Sommer
  • Episode 320: Sylvester Stallone
  • Episode 321: Roger Miller
  • Episode 322: Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
  • Episode 323: Lynn Redgrave
  • Episode 324: Cheryl Ladd

The biggest thing I found out was that Dale Evans was a woman. I also enjoyed just how varied everything was. The stars didn’t overpower the show. and in some cases only showed up for 1 or 2 scenes. This really was the Muppet Show. Statler and Waldorf, the grumpy old critics even get into a fight with a guest but thankfully they lose. It was just so perfect though. Their bad jokes just make me laugh.

This came on 4 discs and I’d watch a whole disc at once. Pop in the dvd and let 6episodes just wash over me. Good times! I also watched the bonus content on the final disc. It was a rather long PBS’esque thing by Jim Henson about puppets. You could probably learn more about puppets than you ever wanted to know.

While it was all enjoyable, I did not like the increased glitz and glamor to the theatre or the addition of “more” to everything. This felt like the cusp of the Muppet Show making it big and I’m always leery of something filled with downhome charm and bluster becoming successful among the plebes.

The Muppet Show Season Two (TV 1977)

I really enjoyed this season two of the Muppet Show. Part of that was that they had a bunch of actors/entertainers who I actually had heard of (unlike season one where it was mostly C-list nobodies) and the variety was much greater in terms of skits and backstage goings ons. I’m guessing the budget was increased?

Things got started with Don Knotts, who I grew up with watching his disney movies and a few others. The Apple Dumpling Gang, the Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, the Shakiest Gun in the West, etc.

And the guests got bigger from there in many cases. Bob Hope, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Elton John. I don’t know if they were more talented or just because I knew them, but I liked most of the guests and their acts better than in season one. It felt like there was more interaction between the Muppets and the guests instead of the guests just doing their act with the Muppets involved.

I really enjoyed that there was a LOT more backstage stuff going on. One show was all about the Pigs taking over the show and the guest star helping Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo escape and take back the show. Ideas like that are right up my alley and I loved it. The terrible jokes are still front and center but don’t have quite as much attention paid to them as in season one. I was ok with that!

I mentioned the greater variety of skits and I think my favorite of them all is the Pigs in Space. The Swinetrek is a hilarious ship. John Cleese participates in one of the skits and he’s a pirate, with a muppet parrot, eye patch and sword. On a spaceship. He was trying to take over the ship but everything went wrong for him. I’m not a fan of Cleese and even I found the skit hilarious 😀

I am really looking forward to season three now.

The Muppet Show Season One (TV 1976)

I went into this never having seen full episodes before, just the various movies and then bits and pieces throughout my childhood.

I would sum up this season as psychedelic singing between rounds of horrible wordplays and bad jokes made on purpose. And I loved every minute of it.

I liked that the characters were “themselves” instead of trying to be something else like in the movies. Kermit is a great manager with just the right amount of gentleness and hardnose take no crap to keep everyone moving. Miss Piggy, well, she’s Miss Piggy and even in the movies she plays herself. It’s funny to watch her go after Kermit and him constantly rebuffing her. Why this is funny, I can’t say except that it is.

The human stars of the show, one per episode, were a bit of a disappointment. Most of them were singers and/or stage entertainers. I guess in the 70’s people watched tv to see people sing popular songs while either dancing with puppets or beating the stuffing out of them. I recognized 2-5 of the guests but that was it. I guess the muppets had a harder time at first getting some non-B list actors. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that several, if not many, of the guests were more at the C-list level. Of course, Candice Bergen pointing a shotgun at one of the characters and shooting a door off its hinges was totally worth it. You won’t see THAT today.

I really did binge this. While each episode was just under 25 minutes, once you ignore the opening and closing sequence you’re looking at 20minutes of “action”. One disc is quite easily watched on a sunday afternoon if you don’t mind plunking your backside down and just watching. With 4 discs for this season, that’s easy peasy.

I am really looking forward to Season 2 next month.

The Bourne Identity: Movie vs Book vs TV Miniseries

I recently watched the Bourne Identity tv miniseries.  I then proceeded to watch the Matt Damon movie immediately after it and decided to write up my thoughts. When I remembered that I had read the book everything was based on, I figured why not do a 3way brawl and see which comes out on top?

 

The Movie:

bdmovie.jpg
Bad Will Hunting. Haha

This was my first introduction to Jason Bourne and when I originally watched this, I had NO idea it was based on a book or had been made before, or anything. An amnesiac with super special forces training on the run across Europe, outwitting other assassins, governments and falling in love with a euro-chick. The deal clincher that pushed this into awesome territory for me was the closing credit song, Extreme Ways by Moby.  It was a techno-beat song that fit the movie, with its fast, furious and brutal fight scenes.

Speaking of fight scenes. The pen fight versus the first assassin in the apartment building in Paris, awesome. It was understated, limited and yet showed the utter ferociousness of trained killers.

Still like this movie and still love the ending song.

 

The Book:

bdbook.gif
Should have been a hollowpoint!

Here’s my review from ’09:

The Bourne Identity

The long and short is that it was quite different from the movie in that it was set back in 70’s or 80’s, dealt with an international assassin (Carlos the Jackal) and Bourne was an undercover agent deliberately run amuck to attract his attention to bring Carlos to ground. Much more political, global and thriller than just an action fight book.

I was glad to have read it, but never had any desire to read it again. I read the next 2 books and the movies shared nothing with them besides the title and both books rather bored me.

This trilogy was the first, and last, Ludlum that I ever read.

 

The TV Miniseries:

bdseries.jpg
Jaclyn Smith. I miss the Big Hair days 😦

Here’s the wiki link:

1988 Bourne Miniseries

Richard Chamberlin stars as Jason Bourne and it’s easy to spot that this was made in a different era than the movie. It’s not just the clothes, but even the fighting style. Most of the fight scenes were more like bar brawls with lots of gut punches and gripping of throats and slamming of hands against door frames. It is painfully obvious that “fighting” wasn’t an art like it is today.  Their idea of “martial arts” was throwing an arm up to block a punch. Sigh. Also, he’s a rather thin, gentlemanly looking fellow, not what I picture as a special special special forces kind of guy. Of course, to be honest, Matt Damon didn’t look like it either in the movie, so call it a draw for that.

This was a 3hr special divided into 2 parts and that allows for a much more nuanced story. It follows the book a LOT more closely than the movie. But maybe because of that, it’s definitely a Cold War style movie and if that’s not your thing, this will definitely be a watch once and move on kind thing.

That’s what it is for me. Glad to have seen it, but not impressed nor does it tempt me to watch it again.

 

The Winner:

trophy.jpg

 

Well, just in case you couldn’t tell from the descriptions, the Matt Damon movie wins hands down.  The ending song simply made any other choice impossible.

(Of course, you have to pretend that the latest Bourne franchise movie, Jason Bourne, doesn’t exist. Really, that’s one of those “they never made that movie” kind of movie, just like the supposed sequels to the Matrix.  They don’t EXIST!)

 

And just so I can stick this in the Food category as well, I was eating Gimbal’s Scottie Dogs Licorice. Getting to bite off little dogs’ heads, that’s just bonus, because nothing beats Black Licorice!

 

gimbals-licorice-scottie-dogs.jpg
Yes, I proudly bit off Toto’s head

 

bookstooge