The Muppet Show episode 6 review

Our fond look back at Jim Henson’s classic series, The Muppet Show, continues. Here’s Glen’s review of episode six...

This episode’s guest is US variety star Jim Nabors, who earned his name playing Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show in the early 60s, and later had a starring role as the same character in Gomer Pyle, USMC until the end of the decade. Nabors briefly hosted his own variety show and made an appearance as a guest on Sesame Street six years before this episode aired.

When given the opportunity, Nabors plays up to his country roots and is for the most part solidly entertaining. His appearance as a gas station attendant, telling of his encounter with a UFO during Muppets News Flash, is a nice call back to Gomer Pyle, and he features in the episode’s stand-out sketch, where he plays a security guard in a bakery.

The sketch plays on Jim’s accent and how certain words can be misconstrued for comedy effect. Hands become hens, right become rats, and so on. It works well and is one of the only solid pieces in the episode. Another fairly amusing sketch is his brief skit with Animal, where he tells the beast to break a leg, only for Animal to oblige him.

Nabors’ closing musical number fails to deliver. He performs a rendition of the John Martin Sommers penned Thank God I’m A Country Boy, which was a chart topping hit for John Denver in 1975. Nabors performs this with the accompaniment of The Gogolala Jubilee Jug Band and, like the previous sketch that features the band, it’s a bit of a letdown.

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Non-Nabors related highlights are few and far between, but include Dr. Teeth’s rendition of Money, which is lyrically inventive and features a nice visual gag as the payoff at the end of the number.

This was an earlier Muppet sketch that originally appeared a couple of times in the 60s on The Mike Douglas Show and Good Morning America. There’s also the ever reliable Statler and Waldorf, whose heckling of Fozzie and their interchanges after his set are of the high standard usually expected.

The introduction (or rather reintroduction) of Scooter was puzzling, as he was introduced in largely the same manner in the Ruth Buzzi episode. It’s not played knowingly, it really is as though episode four never happened.

I appreciate that there were differences between US and UK broadcasts of the show, so it’s entirely possible that this was his US debut, whereas the UK would have been introduced to him two episodes earlier. Still, it’s a little jarring.

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Other discrepancies between the US and UK broadcasts of this episode include the omission of Nabor’s rendition of Gone With The Wind and the first appearance of the Danceros being left out of the UK version of the show. Omitting a sketch featuring the guest star is a bit of an odd move, considering that it’s a good piece and much of the other material featured is lacking in quality.

After episode five, which was a highlight of the series so far, this episode was a bit of a come down. There are numerous problems I had with the episode, the main one being that it never seemed to get going. The material misses more than it hits, and it doesn’t bring out the best in guest star Jim Nabors. The security guard scene shows that he has presence and the ability to be convincing in the sketches, but for the most part, the rest of his involvement in the episode falls as flat as much of the other material.

There are themes that are touched upon that could have been mined for comedy gold. The financial woes of the Muppets, given their rent arrears, alongside Jim Nabor’s country bumpkin image could have been explored further and set the foundation for the episode. Instead, there’s no discernable theme, just a series of spluttering vignettes.

Overall, this is the worst of the episodes in the debut series so far. It seems out of place in comparison to what has gone before, and I’d be surprised if any of the sketches are explored further later on in the series.

Read our remembrance of episode 5 here.

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