"The Muppet Show - The Complete Third Season" DVD Review
May 23, 2008 by Zach Demeter
The third season of The Muppet Show premiered in September of 1978 and after a successful second season the Muppets returned with a powerhouse of guest stars within the first few weeks. With songwriter Helen Reddy leading the pack, the season saw guest appearances from everyone ranging from Alice Cooper to Roy Rogers and everyone in between. With a robust cast of Muppets and skits, both new and old, the third season of The Muppet Show proved to be the series most robust and entertaining to date.
It’s odd to watch The Muppet Show and try to criticize it from the usual standpoint that I use while watching these DVDs. With the second season I never felt comfortable watching the show from a reviewer standpoint; I couldn’t explain it…I’d never really felt that distant from a series before but now I realize that the sole reason for this was because I grew up with the Muppets so trying to analyze them in any logical way other than from the viewpoint of a kids mind is absolutely impossible. While that nagging feeling never hindered my viewing of any of the episodes, I realized that now, with the majority of the guest stars of these episodes being way before my time, I’ve just got to sit back, relax and enjoy the Muppet mayhem that ensues on screen.
Even though I haven’t heard of the majority of the guest stars this season (a lot of them seem to be musical composers; I never realized how musical The Muppet Show always was, but considering I wasn’t alive when this particular batch of episodes aired, I doubt if I even saw the re-runs of it at all. Still we have the aforementioned Alice Cooper (who I had heard of, being a fan of the rock/metal genre) and even a spry Sylvester Stallone filling the role of one of the few non-musicians on this set.
Still, the show is all about music with plenty of musical numbers mixed into every episode. On top of the witty songs and original music performed by the guests we have a few comedy skits thrown into the mix. This season saw the debut of the popular “Pigs in Space” segment which remained in the series throughout the entire run. The series really managed to capture so many wonderful things about the Muppets and like most shows marketed towards the younger audience, there are always a handful of jokes in each episode that fly over your head when you’re younger that now slap you in the face and make you wonder just how you missed it before.
Even if I didn’t recognize the majority of the guests on this set it didn’t deter from my enjoyment of it at all. The Muppets are simply a delight to watch and I hope Buena Vista is able to release these sets with a little bit faster pace…although with only five seasons of the series, we only have two more to go unless they plan on releasing the new Muppet series from the 90s. While I don’t have all that much to say about this season, it’s hard to comment and criticize the Muppets, as I said before; they’re iconic figures in pop culture now and it’s simply impossible for me to say anything bad about the loveable fuzz balls. Highly Recommended.
As with past season releases, The Muppet Show – Season 3 arrives on DVD in a four-disc dual layer tray set up, complete with the fuzzy Fozzie slip case and episode numbers and guest star listings on the outside of the tray packaging. Each of the discs features a different Muppet and each disc contains anywhere from four to seven episodes each. The menus on each disc have rotating intros with Kermit and Ms. Piggy; I think they’re the same rotations on each disc, as I noticed some were repeated, but I can’t be sure if the same intros are used across all of the discs (unless I sit there and wait for them to loop endlessly). Still, if you stick around you’ll get to hear about how Piggy got a full body wax.
Video and audio for this set are what you’ve come to expect; there’s an obvious softness to the picture, but the colors are amazingly vibrant for such an old release. It’s really impressive what they were able to restore on these prints and I’m sure Muppet fans will be praising Disney for their efforts for many years to come. Audio was also a satisfactory Dolby Digital mix which presented the audio loud and clear.
The extras for this set are a bit more robust than the previous seasons. Here we get a series of vintage clip shows full of behind the scenes footage and rarely seen commercials. The first of these extras is “The Muppets on Puppets” (58:43) a special that aired only once in 1970 and is in black and white and full of absolutely wonderful footage of Jim Henson and the various puppets. If anything this set is worth it for this piece alone, as, even with the random audio drop outs (a side effect of the source material) this extra is really the gem of the set.
The other extras here, “A Company of Players” (10:20) has various puppeteers reminiscing about what it was like to work with the Muppets as well as their leader, Jim Henson. Plenty of new behind the scenes footage is thrown in here, even some cool shots of the puppeteers moving and voicing the Muppets at the same time. It’s really interesting to see how this show is put together and this extra certainly shows it all off. Also here are a series of rare and never before released Purina dog food commercials (2:34) featuring the first appearance of Rolfe. These commercials are also in black and white and interestingly enough, you see the puppeteer in one of the commercials—of course he’d have been hidden by the TV sets black bars, but it’s still interesting to see.
Overall this set is hard to pass up and the extras here are absolutely wonderful. I’m glad that Disney is putting so much effort into these releases and to make them really special. While I’m sure fans will always want more, with such a strong library of Muppet films and television, we’ll be seeing Muppet DVD releases for many more years to come. Highly Recommended.
The Muppet Show - The Complete Third Season is now available on DVD.