The Muppet Show episode 23 review

Much-loved 70s series The Muppet Show reaches its penultimate episode of its maiden run, starring actress Kaye Ballard. Here’s Glen’s review...

The guest star for the penultimate episode of this series is comedienne and actress, Kaye Ballard. With numerous Broadway and TV credits to her name, Ballard was an accomplished and versatile performer with roots in vaudeville.

With this being the case, the setup of The Muppet Show‘s format should be something that Ballard was comfortable with. Sadly, that wasn’t to be and sees a further dip in quality from the episode that preceded it.

For a show that clocks in at the normal runtime of twenty five minutes, there aren’t that many sketches to speak of, which, judging by the quality of the sketches that are seen here, is probably a good thing.

The only elements of the show that I enjoyed were the backstage antics which involved Floyd Pepper threatening to quit because he’s sick of performing The Muppet Show theme song, as it’s too embarrassingly square.

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Clearly Floyd’s too hip to be square. It’s not only Floyd, though. The bassist convinced the entire band to leave unless he’s able to compose a new theme song. Kermit relents and allows him to come up with a new theme song, despite Floyd stating that he won’t like it, as not even he likes his own music, and if it wasn’t for the fact that he knew that he was a genius, he wouldn’t listen to his garbage.

The band end up quitting, as it’s apparent that Kermit hated their new theme and the Zappaesque Fugue For Frogwould not replace the existing theme. This leaves Rowlf to do a solo version of the theme on piano to play the show out and exclaiming that the theme is a little square.

As mentioned earlier, other than the backstage antics, there’s very little of note here, and without Floyd and the band’s threats to quit, this could easily have been the worst episode of the series so far.

This is hugely disappointing, considering that this is the penultimate episode and until the episode prior to this, things had been looking up, with a run of very strong episodes.

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We’ve seen guests fail to bring enough personality to the performance, or material that doesn’t effectively support the guest stars sink previous episodes. This seems to be a combination of both, as a lot of the material Ballard is involved with is a little cringe-worthy and simply not funny. A little humour is the least you’d expect from an accomplished comedy performer.

The performance of Norman Smith’s Oh Babe What Would You Say was difficult to watch. Originally recorded with Thog on The Julie Andrews Hour, I’d suggest seeking that version out to see this material done well.

Ballard’s other musical number is One Note Samba, where she and Miss Piggy set out to one-up one another throughout the performance in what ends up being a dull finale to the show.

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The performance of Roger Miller’s In The Summertime by the Country Trio was passable, but nothing special. It would be performed again in series three when Miller guest stared. Another Muppet Show connection for this song is that it was performed under the title You Don’t Want My Love by Andy Williams, who would appear in series four.

I think what makes this episode such a disappointment is that it looked as though things were picking up after a shaky first half of the series, and that the series would close strong. In comparison to a lot of the material in the first half of the series, this is perhaps not that bad an episode, just a distinctly average one. However, in comparison to the great run of episodes recently, this is a huge disappointment.

I hope that the intriguing guests for the season finale can provide a strong conclusion to the series.

You can read our remembrance of episode 22 here.

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