This episode’s guest is one that should need very little introduction, legend of horror, Mr Vincent Price. A veteran of many genre films including the likes of House Of Wax and The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Price also appeared as the inventor in Edward Scissorhands in a significantly scaled down role than was originally intended, due to his diminishing health at the time.
This is the episode that tailors itself most perfectly to the guest star so far this series. There’s very little filler. Instead, audiences are treated to a running horror theme that supports Price’s talents and adds a cohesive tone that has often been lacking in many of the previous episodes this series. It’s the first Muppet Show episode that sticks to one theme throughout this closely, and the results are very strong, indeed.
The material is incredibly well judged and funny, and not only does it explore the obvious horror elements of Price’s persona, but also his fondness for cooking, as he discusses gourmet cuisine in the Discussion Panel segment, in which he encourages Gorgon Heap to eat Kermit.
Price’s first appearance on the show sees him show up as a guest seeking a room at a rather creepy looking holiday cottage that Fozzie and Gonzo have rented. Price lays on the horror camp in the episode, building suspense through his famed mixture of horror and comedy, until the surprising payoff of the sketch.
During the talk spot segment, Price talks about his craft at length, but is cut short by Kermit, who grows fangs and proceeds to bite Price’s neck. Other than that, there’s a brief skit with Sweetums and the usual closing of the episode, but that’s it from Price.
Despite being in a smaller number of sketches in comparison to some of the other guest stars this series, his influence is felt throughout all of the other sketches, which all take a supernatural and monstrous tone with the exception of the talking Houses sketch, which is my least favourite of the reoccurring sketches.
The At the Dance segment features ghosts joining the usual array of dancers, Statler and Waldorf are joined by a monstrous guest in their box, and the Muppet News Flash is sublime, with a cutaway from the news segment to a viewer who finds his furniture turning into monsters and attacking him.
The two musical numbers are also of a high standard with the opening number being a quite literal rendition of Under My Skin by Behemoth and Shaky Sanchez, and an absolutely brilliant version of The Beatles’ I’m Looking Through You by a trio of ghosts. Both of the songs are performed well and, in addition, are very funny.
In the copy I viewed there was, sadly, no musical number from Price. However, when the episode originally aired, he performed You’ve Got A Friend with an assortment of Muppet creatures backing him. I sought out the video online and it’s an entertaining sketch, so it’s difficult to understand why it was cut. The fact that it was cut means the episode as it is on the DVD clocks in at three minutes shorter than the average length of an episode this series.
Still, despite this omission, it’s an incredibly solid episode that lived up to my high expectations of it. It could be argued that they could have gone a bit darker with some of the material and stuck to the horror theme a little closer than they did, but this was an incredibly entertaining and satisfying episode.
It’s clear that the creative team went to great lengths, not only to come up with material to do their guest justice, but it’s also apparent that they had a lot of fun with the material. This is clear from the opening through to the close and, for me, this stands as one of the best episodes seen so far this series.
You can read our remembrance of episode 18 here.
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