Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Best of the Muppet Show: Harry Belafonte/ Linda Ronstadt/John Denver (1977)
"That was a sweet number. I hate sweet numbers."- Statler
Stars: Harry Belafonte, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy
Other Stars: Fozzie Bear, Rolf, Animal, Gonzo
Director: Philip Casson, Peter Harris
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:19m:24s
Release Date: 2003-03-04
DVD ReviewThe Muppet Show was always at its best when it had a terrific musical guest, and this collection features three memorable turns by very different musical artists. All three episodes are entertaining for young and old, with plenty of music, gags and bad punnage.
Episode One: Harry Belafonte
"OK, we got the Tally-Bear, and the boat, the chorus with the pigs and the parrot. OK, keep singing. This is gonna be great."—Fozzie Bear, readying the Banana Boat
This episode contains a sentimental favorite, as described by Brian Henson in the intro: a moving African-flavored song, Turn the World Around, performed by Belafonte at Jim Henson's memorial service. But it's positive, not maudlin, and well-performed with supporting Muppets in African-mask garb. Of course, Belafonte performs his signature tune, The Banana Boat Song (Day-O), despite assistance from Fozzie Bear. An installment of "Pigs in Space" shows off the voice-work of the men and women behind the Muppets as well. A very good episode, though far from the best on the disc. Three and a half Kermits out of five.
Episode Two: Linda Ronstadt
"I love my frog more than life itself."—Miss Piggy, locking Kermit into a steamer trunk
Pop chanteuse Linda Ronstadt hits the program this time, and Kermit has a crush; much of the time is spent in a running gag of Miss Piggy trying to keep him away from the guest star. Ronstadt is perky and charming, and performs songs from a scorching rendition of Blue Bayou and a heart-melting reading of Gershwin's I've Got a Crush on You to a knockout version of The Shoop-Shoop Song, plus two other numbers. Meanwhile, Rolf contributes a comic version of The Cat Came Back. Five froggies out of five.
Episode Three: John Denver
"Sometimes I think my garden is plotting against me."—Gonzo, discussing his mold garden
Kermit has decided to take the cast on a camping expedition, which is popular until they learn exactly what a camping trip to the swamp entails. John Denver contributes a couple of good songs, including the classic Grandma's Feather Bed, complete with a Muppet piggie stolen from the shed. There's also some fairly subtle punnage in this episode, such as the above quote and the opening number of War's Why Can't We Be Friends, set on a battleground. Denver interacts better with the Muppets than most guests do, to the point of completely cracking up as he tries to deal with Miss Piggy. A fun episode well worth four and a half Kermits.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The shot-on-video image doesn't look great. Colors are quite faded in the Ronstadt episode, though acceptable in the others. Ringing is prevalent throughout in what is an apparent attempt to improve the softness issue by jacking up the sharpness. Unfortunately, this just obliterates what little detail is present, so it would have been just as well left alone. It looks about as good as your average cable presentation of a mid-1970s program, so don't expect much.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The only audio presented is the original mono, in 2.0. It's quite clean and sounds decent. The vocals of the guest stars sound great, with nice range and depth. The Belafonte and Ronstadt episodes in particular have good bass depth to them. There's a slightly tinny sound to the theme music, but otherwise the audio is certainly acceptable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 41 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Kermit's Swamp Years, Stuart Little 2
- Production drawing of Statler and Waldorf
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsA terrific set of episodes; if you were to buy only one of the Muppet Show discs, this would be a good one to consider.
Mark Zimmer 2003-03-09