The Muppet Show series 1 episode 7 review

We head back to 1976 once again, as Glen continues his episode-by-episode look back at The Muppet Show. Here’s what he thought of episode seven...

This episode’s guest star is singer and actress Florence Henderson, who is best known for playing the matriarch of The Brady Bunch, Carol Brady. And her motherly skills are called into action, with varying degrees of success, as Kermit’s show is plagued by problems caused by the porcine members of the production.

The problems start when the opening act, the all pig acrobats, The Bouncing Borcellino Brothers of Boston, fail to live up to their reputation as the finest and most exciting acrobats in the business and instead collapse during their El Pyrimido act, resulting in a sizable hole in the stage and numerous injured performers.

Later, an irritated Kermit has the task of ushering the injured Borcellino Brothers out of the Muppet theatre and, just as one porcine problem appears resolved, another appears in the shape of Miss Piggy, who is enamoured with Kermit’s masculine handling of the situation.

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Problems would appear numerous times throughout the show, with Piggy interrupting Kermit’s interview with Henderson and threatening the guest. The panel discussion descends into chaos as Miss Piggy misinterprets the topic of conversation and leads a porcine uprising which leads to a couple more incidents of backstage madness culminating in Piggy delivering the “pork chop” on Kermit.

This closing sketch of this episode marked the first time that Kermit reported from Planet Koozebane and observes the rare Galley-oh-hoop-hoop species. The sketch was originally part of the 1974 Muppets valentine special, which, along with Sex And Violence, acted as a pilot to the series. It’s an amusing sketch and numerous similar sketches would appear in later Muppet Show episodes.

In addition to the show’s running theme there was time for several musical numbers. Henderson’s first musical number, Elusive Butterfly, is a bit bizarre. to say the least. There’s little Muppet involvement throughout. Instead we’re treated to Henderson wandering through a snowy forest set and periodically fading in and out, before the number closes with her turning into a number of butterflies. The song was a top five hit a decade before the show aired, but even so, it seems hilariously out of place.

A Henderson musical number that didn’t seem out of place is her rendition of The Turtles’ Happy Together, accompanied by an assortment of Muppet monsters and Frackles. For what is her closing song of the episode, Henderson oversings it a bit, but it’s hard to mess up such a classic song and this ends up being the musical highlight of a fairly average episode.

Rowlf’s take on A.A. Milne’s Cottlestone Pie taken from Songs From Winnie The Pooh is another very good addition to the show and another musical number from this series that played at Jim Henson’s memorial service. It’s easy to see why this was one of the show’s most beloved numbers, even though it was originally attached to another well respected children’s franchise, with it featuring on a number of tie-in albums, as it encapsulates many of the moods that make the show such a success, being tender and amusing in equal measure.

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The show had its highlights. The discussion time sketch was good as was the running joke about the bacon slur and Miss Piggy’s jealousy over Henderson getting too close to Kermit, which all formed part of the narrative thread that tied the show together and marked a significant improvement over episode six. But, ultimately, it’s not of the standard witnessed in previous episodes.

It’s another mixed episode that’s light on laughs with the sketches mostly misfiring. There are the aforementioned exceptions, of course, and two solid musical numbers, but it doesn’t seem that Henderson’s talents were made the most of.

Read our remembrance of episode 6 here.