After ABC rejected this first Muppet pilot, Jim Henson revised the premise somewhat and produced the first-run syndication series The Muppet Show (1976) which had an extremely successful five year run ending while still at its peak of popularity. See more »
a weird batch of muppets; like a college short film version of the future show, with Mia Farrow!?
Jim Henson had to prepare a pilot for the networks so that they would understand what he had in mind for them with his proposed Muppet Show idea. Unfortunately, by the looks of the special, it doesn't spell anything really about what the show would portend- aside from a few exceptions with the bits, and the fact that it has as unlikely a guest star you could imagine- so it's a good thing that Lew Grade took a chance over in Britain for the show. Does this make the Muppets Valentine Show a mess? Not really, if one knows what Henson is after here. It's a very, very, very strange show, where Mia Farrow, the guest star, seems to come in out of the blue towards the beginning, and seems (naturally) charmed by all of the muppets, including ones that were so freaky they were never used again! (Not that seeing Farrow sing a lovely ballad to an eight-foot monster isn't a wee charming).
Already Henson, head writer Jerry Juhl, and the whole muppets team were on to something with the skewed humor, the big obvious jokes (Crazy Harry, who would become an on-off again attraction on the show, is in fine form here blowing s*** up at the mere mention of a name). There's also the re-dos of songs, one of them by Kermit the Frog done in a style that starts light and then builds and builds (I forget what the name of it was, but I remember there being a cannon or something involved). And, of course, there's the Koozbanians, which would be a classic skit only very slightly tweaked by the time it was done on the regular series. The only thing that feels a little off is the extra main character- the main musician dude who seems to know everything about what's going down in the show- and feels out of place with all the other muppet friends.
So, the Muppets Valentine Show, available now on the season 2 DVD set of the Muppet Show, is a fascinating slice of Muppet-mania, where the first sight of an amalgamation of songs, skits, bears and chickens and other animals and whatevers were thrown together with a sweet, unexpected (and very pregnant) Farrow, with some very insane jokes thrown in the mix (some hilariously funny, some just 'what?') It's near-classic Henson material that will delight, or at least interest, fans of the show.
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