The Muppet Show Season 3 DVD
By the third season of The Muppet Show, the main cast of characters is fully developed. Significant new additions to the Muppet family include Beauregard, Lew Zealand and Annie Sue. Because the main cast and the relationships between them are fully established, this allowed the writers under the direction of Jerry Juhl to increase the Muppet madness. This makes Season 3 undoubtedly one of the best of the series. By increasing the chaos on-stage and off, the performers took the hilarity to new levels. Whether it's Kermit and Piggy's on-stage wedding, moving the show to a railroad station or having the cast turn into chickens, The Muppet Show Season 3 is a delight for all ages.
Each menu begins with a brief video clip from Season 3 with a close-up overlay of The Muppet Show logo. The main menu on each disc features the Muppet Show backdrop with new footage from Kermit and Piggy. They welcome you to each disc and encourage you to click on a button in Muppety fashion. Scooter is also briefly seen pushing some scenery across the screen.
Most episode menus feature three guest star photos with background music from a particular show (the Muppety music heard on the episode menus from the first two sets has been dropped). If you have a widescreen setup, you'll notice the menus can be seen at 16:9 even though the program itself is presented in its natural 4:3 aspect ratio.
All 24 episodes are included with original openings, UK Skits and closings. We are thrilled to report that after careful scrutiny, it appears that every Season 3 episode is indeed complete and uncut.
A "Muppet Studios" logo is shown at the beginning of each episode. A 1980's shot of Zoot is once again shown at the end of each episode over the Muppets Holding Company copyright. There are three chapters per episode where the commercial breaks would be. We'd still prefer to have a chapter for each song or skit instead of only three chapters per episode.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Like on the previous releases, the video quality varies from episode to episode. Some are better than others, but for a show from the 1970's the quality is as good as can be expected. Regardless of these critiques, the Season 3 episodes have never looked so good. English subtitles are included (under "set up" on the menu) and the sound is clear in all of its broadcast mono quality.
THE MUPPETS ON PUPPETS: Not to be confused with the Season 2 bonus "The Muppets on Muppets", this hour-long 1968 documentary produced for public television stars Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl and Don Sahlin. This special is foundational in that it not only serves as a medium to introduce the early Muppet characters, but also many forms of puppetry from around the world. From Rowlf to Kermit, King Goshposh to Taminella, and Splurge to an early Grover, many favorites are featured here.
At the beginning of this special is a disclaimer mentioning that there are some drops in the audio and that nothing is wrong with your DVD. While it's not surprising there were issues with the master tape, there are other copies of this special out there which include complete audio. Hearing "silence" for a few seconds at a time during various parts of this special is somewhat disappointing. The complete audio from the special exists from other sources even if it had to be edited at varying quality from the original. While it's quite unfortunate Disney didn't try to repair the version they had, it's nice to have this documentary in an official form.
A COMPANY OF PLAYERS: This new 10-minute behind-the-screens look at The Muppet Show includes a wealth of cast interviews including: Martin Baker, Bill Barretta, Kevin Clash, Bonnie Erickson, Karen Falk, Michael K. Frith, Amy van Gilder, Dave Goelz, Jane Gootnick, Jerry Juhl, Brian Henson, Kathy Mullen and Steve Whitmire.
These interviews are very good but we just wish more would have been included. Given the large number of crew interviewed, there is likely several hours of interview footage that could have been expanded to at least a half-hour segment. Of special note are the comments from the late Muppet head writer, Jerry Juhl. It would be nice to see his interview appear uncut in a future volume.
PURINA COMMERCIALS: The Muppets got their start in the 1950's and 1960's through commercials. Jim Henson found that commercials allowed him an avenue to generate income to finance the other projects he wanted to develop. Four Purina Dog Food commercials are included here staring Rowlf the Dog and Baskerville. We wish that more commercials would have been featured to highlight the Muppets vast work promoting products from this particular era.
Two versions of the Fozzie Bear cover will be released on May 20. One of them is a collector's edition with felt-like bearskin and embossed eyes, hat and nose. The alternate cover will include the same picture just with a glossy print finish without the additional Muppety texture. The front of our case has a sticker highlighting "rare archive footage" included in the bonus features on the set.
The inner DVD case folds out like a book to reveal four discs layered on top of each other. The front of the case includes a nice image of various Muppets sitting in the audience seats of the Muppet theater. The disc rundown is included on the back of the case which is designed to look like the Muppet Show stage with a mic and some of Fozzie's props on a stool.
Once again, Disney gets the highest of praise for releasing the 24 episodes uncut. While still very good, we would've liked to have seen more in the area of bonus features. More Muppet commercials from the 1960's or even the Rowlf IBM films would have complimented the other bonus material from the same era. We're still holding out hope for a few audio commentaries with the Muppet performers on future box sets.
The Muppet Show Season 3 can be ordered for 35% off the regular price for a limited time. It should be your number one Muppet purchase of the year. You can also listen to all the great music from the five seasons of The Muppet Show on Muppet Central Radio. Read our review of The Muppet Show Season 1 and Season 2 DVD box sets.
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