The Muppet Show series 1 episode 16 review

It’s episode 16 of The Muppet Show, with guest star Avery Schreiber, who sports a rather epic moustache. Here’s Glen’s review...

This episode’s guest star had a strong connection to the show prior to appearing, as he had a comedy partnership with Muppet Show head writer, Jack Burns, for many years and appeared on a variety show with Rowlf in the late 60s. Schreiber made many appearances in a number of TV and movie projects including the likes of My Mother The Car, Get Smart, Saved By The Bell, Duck Tails and Animaniacs, as well as being another guest who would feature in the movies of Mel Brooks, with appearances in Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Dracula: Dead And Loving It. If that wasn’t enough; he also sported a rather magnificent moustache.

Given his past partnership with Burns, it’s hardly a surprise that Schreiber is given some excellent material to show off his comedic talents. Overall, the episode leans far more towards outright sketch comedy than has been seen at any other point this series, and it benefits from it greatly. Schreiber gets roped in to a plot to make Kermit jealous by posing as a competitor for Miss Piggy’s affections only to get chopped for it when he refuses to kiss her, as his lips can’t touch pork because of his religion.

Another sketch that sees his combative side is the gladiatorial sketch in which he adopts the role of Sir Avery of Macho (obviously, the moustache is the key to his macho powers) in order to combat Sweetums. When he realises he’s unable to defeat the mammoth Muppet with weapons, the moustachioed Avery dishes out a series of insults to flay Sweetums, until he himself is slain by the beast , who tells him that Burns and Schreiber were his second favourite comedy act.

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Master of comedy that Schreiber is, he came to the aid of Fozzie when he was being heckled by Statler and Waldorf, saying that he knows how to handle heckling as he’s used to it from Burns, which was another nice nod to the partnership.

Other sketches see Schreiber play the role of a security guard clashing with a painting of Fozzie that comes to life and one of the more bizarre musical numbers seen so far this series in Make A Song, which is an original piece written by Schreiber that involves him playing guitar and singing in a scat style.

There are regular sketches such as Muppet Labs, At the Dance, Muppet News Flash, Veterinarians Hospital, all of which are good, but the show’s highlights very much belong to Schreiber, whose material is on a whole other level to the rest of the sketches that make up the show, and much of the series to date.

The episode doesn’t have many of the subversive elements that I have favoured in past episodes, but there’s a manic energy running throughout the show which made it go by in a breeze. The material was paced to perfection, with well judged and crafted material that really did the guest and the creative team credit.

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Schreiber demonstrated the characteristics that have made the best guest stars so successful: a lack of inhibition and an ability to commit to the material fully, which made this episode one of the better seen so far this series.

So, given that this episode is another one of high quality, which makes it two in a row, it looks as though we’re finding some consistency. Here’s hoping that I haven’t spoken too soon and that next week’s episode is another hit.

Quotes by Statler and Waldorf at the end of the show sum the series up so far, quite nicely:

Waldorf: Hey, you’ve gotta give ‘em credit.

Statler: Why’s that?

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Waldorf: Well, they’re gonna keep doing it ‘til they get it right.

Read our remembrance of episode 15 here.

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