The Muppet Show series 1 episode 13 review

Bruce Forsyth is the guest star in The Muppet Show episode 13. Here’s Glen’s fond look back...

This episode’s guest star is a man who needs little introduction, Mr. Bruce Forsyth. A mainstay of British TV for decades, Forsyth is an incredibly versatile performer who is still going strong to this day. Indeed, he can currently be seen on Strictly Come Dancing, not that I’d know anything about that, of course.

Given Brucie’s talents, it’s little surprise that his first sketch of the show showcases his dancing and singing skills as he performs All I need Is The Girl, accompanied by a Gawky Bird that takes a shine to Mr. Forsyth. Hardly surprising, as he sports a rather smashing suit and dances magnificently. The set-up and format of the sketch is appropriate, given the song is about the need of a dancing partner. The song originally featured in Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Gypsy.

The show also sees Brucie try out his stand-up skills. Filling in for the hapless Fozzie he skillfully handles the heckles directed at him from the balcony by Statler and Waldorf. Fozzie spent much of the show demonstrating his new methods of dealing with hecklers to Kermit to varying levels of success and was devastated to learn that his act would be cut so that Bruce could take to the stage for his stand-up routine.

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Impressed with Brucie’s handling of the professional hecklers, Fozzie takes to the stage to learn from the master. Bruce’s advice is taken too far by the bear comic and it soon turns out that he’s created a monster.

It was nice to see some variation on the traditional format of this sketch and Forsyth took to the material well, so the increased runtime of the sketch was justified. One of the funnier, if not the funniest, takes on this sketch so far this series.

Brucie’s closing musical number is an excellent duet of Let There Be Love with Miss Piggy. Clearly setting aside their differences from an incident earlier on in the episode, which saw them come to blows over Brucie’s trading pigs as currency in order to acquire a duck, the pair deliver a great performance that is amongst the finest musical numbers so far this series.

Ever wanted to see the Muppets tackle the theme of incest? Well, you’re in for a treat this episode with The Gogolala Jubilee Jugband’s rendition of Jaffe and Lathman’s I’m My Own Granpaw, which highlights some of the finer points, as well as the potential problems, of inbreeding.

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Risqué themes aren’t unusual in The Muppet Show, but I was still quite surprised with this. It is quite brilliant, though, and easily the best thing the Jug Band have been involved with so far this series.

Regular sketches such as At The Dance and Veterinarians Hospital are both solid entries to the episode, but the most notable non-guest star sketch is the Snerfs dancing to Little Spanish Town. This was a sketch that was first performed in 1974, two years before this episode aired, on the Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass variety show, which featured a number of Muppet sketches. Another successful example of the recycling old material.        

As a guest star, Forsyth was excellent, one of the best all round guests seen this series, as he excels in all areas of performance and tackles all of the types of sketches available with ease. Perhaps unlikely, but I’d love to see him in the forthcoming Muppet movie, as, unlike some of the guests who have appeared this series, he’s still performing today.

So far this series we’ve seen some big names let down by below par material that didn’t effectively service their talents, as well as some guest stars simply failing to deliver the goods, which is why it’s so great when everything falls in to place, making a classic episode in the process.

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The Forsyth material was tremendous, as was the other material that made up the rest of the show. This is one of the most consistently entertaining episodes seen so far in The Muppet Show’s first season.

Read our remembrance of episode 12 here.