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Best TMS guest stars

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Gorgon Heap, May 6, 2003.

  1. Gorgon Heap

    Gorgon Heap Active Member

    A matched set with the 'Worst TMS guest stars' thread. Here are my picks:

    Rita Moreno: a richly deserved Emmy win for her sparkling and varied performance; she goes from expertly acted and executed slapstick to a sharp, catty dialected character to amiably being herself to trying to keep her cool while being humiliated by Animal's drum solos. Four acts- a wealth of range. Superb.

    Sandy Duncan: she mixed with the Muppets like honey mixes with tea

    Avery Schreiber: some of their best friends are B-listers; Schreiber played a variety of sketches and situations and seemed as natural on the show as the Muppets themselves; humble, amiable, and funny, watching this episode makes you miss him now that he's gone.

    Ben Vereen: an exuberant, energetic, multi-talented star who helps make this episode a classic, wringing all he can from it with his extremely likeable manner, his golden voice, his cosmic energy, incredible dancing ability, and a good rapport with the Muppets.

    Vincent Price: he put in so many forgettable TV appearances in the 60's and 70's, but this one stands above the rest and stands the test of time. Even before one knows about this episode, this is a guest appearance that one could easily picture Price making and could even look forward to. The first theme show and easily one of the best, Price is his usual self but looks pretty well at home with the Muppets.

    Ethel Merman: the legendary Broadway star sums it up in her words at the end of the show: "This has been the most fun I've had in a long, long time. You know you really don't have to be crazy to do this show... but it helps!" She exudes a real warmth when working with the Muppets, and indeed her spirit seemed rekindled when surrounded by her felt and fur co-stars. Another instance when you can really tell that the guest was having a good time.

    Mummenschanz: uncharacteristic, as they don't interact with the Muppets save for one Talk Spot with Kermit, but their bizarro sketches fit so nicely that they almost seem Muppetish themselves. A change of pace, and a winner.

    Rich Little: maybe it helps that he did impressions of the Muppets themselves in his first number, but for whatever reason Rich Little makes this an enjoyable and funny episode.

    Madeline Kahn: one of the great comic actresses plays her numbers and sketches with aplomb and gives the episode a real zing. Someone who could've done a second episode with the Muppets if they had been in that practice.

    George Burns: you wouldn't think this would work so well on first thought, but his calm, down-to-earth, not easily fazed or shocked demeanor and old-fashioned charm make him someone whose presence becomes infectious, and any place he goes is changed accordingly by his presence. Even with all of the Muppets' craziness, George Burns remains unaffected. With all he saw in his lifetime, even the Muppets couldn't unsettle him.

    Dom DeLuise: another great comic performer who does two terrific sketches and a nice closing number. His personality and comic timing made him another perfect fit for this show.

    Bernadette Peters: the divine Ms. Peters is the perfect sweetheart on this show, and even with a giant weight being dropped on the Newsman and Beaker's head deflating you can still feel the warmth, sweetness and sense of innocence that she brings to the show and which the Muppets truly are at their center. The closing number wasn't much, but "Just One Person" more than makes up for it. Surprising to learn that she was Emmy-nominated for it.

    Rudolf Nureyev: a wonderful episode from start to finish, and Rudolf's ability to go along with it is a large part of it. His resentment toward his gargantuan porcine ballerina partner in "Swine Lake" is funny, and his attempt to evade Miss Piggy also quite enjoyable and humorous. Like he said "this has been a very different experience for me", but also in regard to his first two numbers "I wanted to do them. And it was fun!" You can clearly tell by the end that this incredible change of pace was one he wouldn't regret, ever.

    Julie Andrews: another performer of sweetness and a sense of innocence, who we all know loved the Muppets. Another good turn for Julie.

    Peter Sellers: his character acting went into high gear as he shifted from wild character to wild character, and earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination for his work.

    Gilda Radner: watching SNL you can see she loves the Muppets, and maybe it's just because this is a classic episode but this was a good display of her talents.

    James Coco: amiable and hilarious with bravado to spare, Coco's first sketch stands IMO as a classic and one of their all-time funniest, and his love of the show and attempts to improve it's sagging parts make him one of the most involved guests ever. He was a great fit in lots of films and television shows, and this was no exception.

    Harry Belafonte: one of their best guests ever; he even reserved his first-ever televised performance of "Day-O (Banana Boat Song)" for this occasion!

    Lesley Ann Warren: maybe it's just me, but her work in all but the closing number is first-rate; her lovely "Beauty and the Beast" ballet, her scenes with Kermit, her concern for the Muppaphones and love of the Muppets in general makes her a good guest IMO.

    Spike Milligan: the only guest star who was crazier than the Muppets, and easily one of the best

    Roger Miller: maybe it's just the episode itself, but Miller was someone whose work was clearly appropriate for The Muppet Show and a man whose enjoyment of the show was prevalent.

    John Denver: another classic association, and one that proved fruitful with two Christmas specials that followed; Denver and Jim Henson seemed to be very much alike in their beliefs and methods, and their respect and understanding for one another comes across.

    Linda Lavin: she waited three years to do the show, and when she made it over there caught cold and kept it a secret for fear they'd send her home. Her infectious enthusiasm is clear even without knowing the backstory.

    Christopher Reeve: his friendship with several of the Muppet performers has been well-documented, so it only seems natural that he would do a good job and not look out of place talking to a frog, a pig, a bear, or a rat. Reeve was one of the few guests who took maximum opportunity to display his range of talents. He recites Shakespeare, does comedy in Vet's Hospital, and sings and plays the piano- well, too!- in his closing number. One of the very best.

    Loretta Swit: the plot of her filling in for Piggy helps cement her within the Muppet circle, and indeed, in terms of appearances there didn't seem to be anybody closer to the heart of the Muppet company. Great performance, full of humor, range, sincerity, and heart.

    James Coburn: who'd have thought the Hollywood tough guy would've done such a good job on The Muppet Show and not seemed out of place? The writers helped by assimilating his type into the show with the early backstage scenes and the gangster sketch. His personality comes across and it doesn't hurt that he's working almost exclusively with his favorite Muppet, Animal. For such a tough guy, he comes across as very nice on-screen and perfectly willing to indulge in good old Muppet lunacy.

    Linda Ronstadt: the love story pulls her in close like Loretta Swit was pulled in close; at any rate, it gives her an emotional bearing throughout the show which goes beyond a day's work. Her musical numbers are first rate, and IMO she does well for a first-time actress, despite what many say.

    Hal Linden: his reactions are there and are dead-on, and there's a likability about him which comes through well in this episode. He tries to go on with the show in his first number, with little success. He has a lovely duet with Robin, showcasing his beautiful singing voice, and again tries to carry on in the closing number amid the opening of onstage trap doors. Like Kermit says "I thought it was a terrific show." Hal: "What are you crazy? It was a lot of confusion and chaos, a lot of running around by mindless maniacs-" Fozzie: "Yeah, yeah. Just like any good Muppet Show!" Kermit: "And Hal, you were a big part of it." Hal: "Oh good, I'm glad I fit right in." That says it there, doesn't it?

    Marty Feldman: another wacky guest star, a great comic actor in the tradition of Madeline Kahn and Dom DeLuise (all three were favorites of Mel Brooks) who exceeds the usual guest performance and turns in some inspired comic work. His episode is a classic, and he works natually with the Muppets and gives the show plenty of oomph and comic energy on his own. He matches the Muppets' nuttiness step for step, and the result is one of the all-time classic episodes of the series.

    Chris Langham: a Muppet writer on The Muppet Show makes sense; he was a last-minute replacement, and it made for one of the best episodes of the season and one of the most original of the entire series. He's weird and wonderful, and the fact that none of the Muppets respect him and he's the subject of an in-joke make it all the sweeter.

    Gene Kelly: "I thought Kermit just invited me here to watch the show." For that matter, he certainly got in a lot of talent and charm for being reluctant (yes, I know it was just a plot point). This episode was written as the series finale and was the last one made, and I can't think of a better way to go out with a bang than with the legendary Gene Kelly to play out the coda with the grace of an old-time movie star, the kind they don't make anymore.

    Well, that took a long time. Who do you think were the show's best guests?

    David "Gorgon Heap" Ebersole
  2. Ryan

    Ryan New Member

    Sorry, have to disagree a little more:

    Sandy Duncan: To me, she seemed as if she really wasn't into it. Her acting wasn't terrific. However, her singing, I will admit, was superb. So I go half way with you on that.

    Mummenschanz: It was a great episode, but the closing number was too long, and really could have been filled with a Muppet number.

    Peter Sellers: I'm sorry, I'll be hated for this. I just thought this was a boring, uneven episode. There are a few sweet spots, but it just didn't do it for me. Cigarettes And Whiskey was good, but I never found Peter to be hillarious in any way. JMO.

    All the others are my picks as well. An almost perfect list of winning episodes. I'd also add to my personal list:

    Ruth Buzzi: Her bubbly, excited enegery fit well with the cast, and she seems as if she is one of the few first season guests that wants to be there. Just a top episode, especailly for the first season.

    Jim Nabors: Now, don't get me wrong, I can't stand Jim, but the episode's plot and sketches are great.

    Steve Martin: Maybe one of the greatest episodes ever. It was just great fun. The idea was great, as well as the ridiculous acts.

    Leo Sayer: Annie Sue's introduction. I dunno, I just really enjoyed this one.

    Hmm...I know there are more....
  3. Link Hogthrob

    Link Hogthrob New Member

    Well...personally, I'm not too impressed with any of the first season shows ALTHOUGH there are a few bright spots!

    Christopher Reeve's episode was great if not only for "Disco Frog"!
    Bernadette Peter's episode was excellent too! James Coburn's closing number was hilarious!

    My FAVORITE episode is Loretta Swit...great story! I think the story was great in itself and would have been just as good with or without Swit.

    I think the two of you have already listed some REALLY good episodes!

  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    For what ones I can remember, one of my favorites was Paul Simon... it was a great episode, and I love how got the better of everyone, with such a serious performance..
  5. fluffmuppet

    fluffmuppet Member

    I really loved that episode with Paul Simon...the whole ep is just so amusing to me..and now I just love his songs cuzza that ep!

    I can sound like the bobby benton and the all baby band babies, lol! "Thaaay cawl me baybee dwiver!..." hehe!
  6. LadyHyde

    LadyHyde New Member

    I'll go with "Muppets Tonight", as usual.

    Dennis Quaid-Gotta love that "Dragonheart" parody with Kermit.

    Heather Locklear-Funny, funny stuff. "You know who doesn't get enough credit? The Osmonds!"

    Billy Crystal-And the "City Slickers" Parody was great, too.
  7. ryhoyarbie

    ryhoyarbie Well-Known Member

    the gene kelly episode was great..it was a great ending when he was singing "i'm singing in the rain." just a great episode and a great series end......

  8. EmmyMik

    EmmyMik New Member


    Paul Simon: I love Paul. :flirt: So I guess I'm sort of biased in that respect.

    Chris Langham: It's just a... weird episode. I love it!

    Marty Feldman: Again, a wonderfully weird episode. I particularly enjoy the patent office sketch.

    Steve Martin: Because it's an awesome episode.

    You know, I'm not very good at this...
  9. I liked the surprise guest appearances by the Sesame Street cast at the end of the show.
  10. Joggy

    Joggy Member

    Not to mention too friggin SCARY! :o
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    As for Muppets Tonight, my fave would be the Martin Short episode (Especially Rizzo's running gag.... the payoff was hillarious)

    Mainly because he played my favorite SNL character, Ed Grimley!
  12. Lynda Carter---I can't believe no one's mentioned her yet.

    You show me better sincere, believable, utterly natural chemistry with the Muppets.

    You won't find much better.


    You won't!

  13. TravellingMatt

    TravellingMatt New Member

    I, for one, loved the Alice Cooper episode. They really played off Alice's shock-rock image. Three great Alice Cooper songs (including my favorite, "School's Out"), the irony of Robin singing "Over The Rainbow", and my favorite part of the show, the UK spot "Once-A-Year Day!" (a great song from a great musical, "The Pajama Game"), if anything, so we can see Boppity and Thog again. (Note: Richard also used that voice for Boppity in that one episode of "The Cosby Show"...or was it David Rudman? He was on board by that time.)

    John Cleese. 'Nuff said.

    Connie Stevens--especially seeing Bert & Ernie out of their natural element.
  14. EmmyMik

    EmmyMik New Member

    I like that episode too, although it's been ages since I've seen it.

    Actually it's been *AGES* since I've seen anything Muppety (not counting the episode of Sesame Street that I watched today). Stupid work and school...

  15. dbarrie

    dbarrie New Member

    Here's who I consider to have been the best Muppet Show guests:

    * Harry Belafonte
    * Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy
    * Carol Burnett
    * Johnny Cash
    * John Cleese
    * John Denver
    * Sandy Duncan
    * Lena Horne
    * Elton John
    * Rich Little
    * Steve Martin
    * Roger Moore
    * Zero Mostel
    * Vincent Price
    * Gilda Radner
    * Christopher Reeve
    * Roy Rogers & Dale Evans
    * Peter Sellers
    * Paul Simon

    BTW, the reruns are coming back to TV Sept. 1 in Toronto, on Crossroads TV (CTS, Cable 9). Yay! :)

  16. dbarrie

    dbarrie New Member

    Thanks for the reminder re. Andrews, Burns, Coburn, Feldman, Kahn, Moreno and Peters... add them to my "best" list! :)
  17. dbarrie

    dbarrie New Member

    A sad postscript

    I read on a TMS fan site that Mostel did not live to see his ep. air (he died about a month before that, in 1977).
  18. dbarrie

    dbarrie New Member

    I thought the ep. w/ Hal Linden was the last one. That's what's suggested in my book about Jim Henson. All the guests' photos appear to be arranged in order. Can you please clarify this for me?
  19. Don'tLiveonMoon

    Don'tLiveonMoon New Member

    I finally bought the Paul Simon episode of TMS a couple months ago, and it's fantastic! I think it's really great that they devoted a whole show to his music. I think the one thing that struck me the most about him in this episode was how quiet he was. He seemed incredibly low-key, and at times I even had to turn the volume up to hear what he was saying. I guess it just goes with his contemplative persona.

    I LOVE that opening gag: "50 ways to love your lever." Cracked me up!!! :crazy:
  20. Yeah Erin, Paul's show is a terrific one!

    I looove Janice & Floyd's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (of course, lol! :flirt: ), but all the songs are so great! I love the opener, and the "rock"in' closer, lol. :)

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