The Muppets are having a party to celebrate (as in 'plug') the release of their first Motion Picture and half of Hollywood is invited. So, instead of one inhabitant of Tinseltown flying over to London to guest on the Muppet Show, Kermit and co throw a bash at home base: the world famous Coconut Grove in Hollywood California. Dick van Dyke and Rita Moreno are standing outside to greet the arriving guests during a red carpet ceremony that would make Oscar jealous, while a galaxy of stars (most, but not all of whom had worked with the Muppets before) settles down for the show.
Latecomers Kermit and Fozzie show up just in time for the Frog to introduce the first performance: the Muppet Monsters (the same line up seen at the start of each Muppet Show) perform a disco version of "Hooray for Hollywood". Later on Piggy makes the grandest entrance of her life, carried on a dias by Egyptian bodybuilders, (check out 'Of Muppets and Men: The Making of 'The Muppet Show' to see how they did it) only to sing "Baby Face" in her usual of key manner. When Johnny Mathis takes the stage to sing Piggy's number from the Muppet Movie ("Never before.. and never again") he turns it into a really beautiful ballad. Being accustomed to the movie version, I was surprised how well it suited his style.
In between musical numbers the guests are encouraged to get up and disco, so if you ever dreamed of seeing Raquel Welch, Cheryl Ladd and Miss Piggy vamping it up on the dance floor, this is it! Moments later, Piggy ditches Superman Chris Reeve for Muppet villain Charles Durning, while Janice is dancing up a storm with Geordi La Forge (then better known as Kunta Kinte). Meanwhile, Dick and Rita are still hob-nobbing around the room and introducing some prerecorded Muppet interviews that lead into clips from The Movie. Both Van Dyke and Moreno get to do a musical number of their own, and Rita's medley segues into a conga line that clears the theater rather abruptly. Luckilly you can always count on a coda from the Muppets.
This special represents Jim Henson's Muppets at the top of their game. The show was still in the middle of production, their most successful big screen outing was about to be released and all of the hard to find television specials from that era are gems in their own right. Add to this the cooperation of all the most glamorous and beautiful stars (plus Liberace), who in this case only showed up to have fun and look good. All the while, Kermit tries to downplay the fact that they are promoting a film (even though they also sneak in a surreptitious plug for the "Miss Piggy Cover Girl Fantasy Calendar 1981"). As of this writing, this special is available to see on Youtube in 5 parts, so go and find it before the Henson people tell them to pull it, like they did with some classic Sam and Friends clips.
9 out of 10
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