Little brings a lot of talent to another excellent episode
As well as I know the Muppets, I never saw much of The Muppet Show until recently, and I'm struck by what a well-made series it is. For this episode, a big part of that comes from guest star Rich Little, renowned impressionist, "the only man I know who can be anybody he feels like", says Kermit.
In a series of very short but sweet imitations, Little treats us to a cavalcade of 20th century stars. Well-known to 1977 audiences, today they're probably best known to classic film fans. Let's see if I've got them right
Little matches the voices and inflections with uncanny talent. Close your eyes and you'll swear that's really James Stewart and Burt Lancaster on the screen. In the same sketch, he hams it up as Nixon and does spot-on impressions of Cary Grant and Groucho Marx. The script's references to Lancaster may confuse the fact that he slips in a Kirk Douglas, too. "I'll turn your head into a dimple!" he threatens a snide reporter while pointing to his chin, a la Douglas and his famous dimpled chin. I'm not certain who the sketch finishes with, but I'm guessing it's Vincent Price, because it causes monsters to burst through a door and crowd around Little. (Price did a lot of horror movies; ergo he attracts monsters.)
In a musical sketch, Little and Kermit sing "Well Did You Evah" from the film High Society, with Little impersonating its stars Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby right after each other. He begins this sketch with an impression of Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain." Surreally, he shifts to a dead serious Richard Burton reciting the lyrics as if he were doing a Shakespearean soliloquy. A John Wayne impression follows Burton, and the sketch finishes with Miss Piggy and "Maurice Chevalier" in a duet from Gigi.
The show begins with Little fooling a naive Scooter, when he comes to fetch Little for curtain time but the door keeps opening to these famous "celebrities". "Wow, Humphrey Bogart," says Scooter. "But where's Rich Little?" W.C. Fields is also featured here.
Besides these stars, Little actually does impressions of Kermit and some other Muppets themselves. He gives Statler and Waldorf a retort by copying Statler, and when Little pretends to be Miss Piggy, you'll swear they just dubbed in Frank Oz. He nails both Miss Piggy's sweet talk and her angry outburst.
The rest of the show is mostly the Muppets' usual warm, clever humor. There's also a sketch that's pretty violent for a family show--wild animal Muppets eating each other!--so it will probably scare the youngest children, but the puppetry is superb, featuring a lizard-like Muppet humming and kicking his legs while sitting on a wall.
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