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The occasional performers of season five

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by minor muppetz, May 20, 2015.

  1. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    During the last season of The Muppet Show, there were three Muppet performers to only perform semi-regularly, these being Karen Prell, Brian Meehl, and Betsy Baytos. Now during the first season it was common for performers to appear in only a couple of episodes, mainly female performers when a musical number featured a female character singing (Eren Ozker must not have been confident as a singer, as her only major singing, as Wanda, was intentionally bad), and Peter Friedman performed for five straight episodes in place of Jerry Nelson (and performed again for four or five straight episodes in the third season), but aside from that, for the most part, each season would mainly just have the same regular performers for each episode, or at least in the credits (I know of at least two episodes where Bob Payne was credited, plus at least two he performed in without credit).

    With that in mind, I wonder why they suddenly had a handful of performers who performed from time to time in the last season, but not in every episode, and not as main characters. Brian Meehl performed a handful of vocal roles, and Betsy Baytos had one-time character Betsy Bird, but Karen Prell didn't do any voices on the show.

    But then something hit me: With Jim planning on ending the show soon (I assume he had decided for season 5 to be the last season before it began), maybe he wanted to get some of his newer performers a chance to perform on the show. Meehl and Prell had just been hired, so it makes a little sense that he'd want them on the show (I wonder if he ever considered having Michael Earl be one of these occasional performers), but has Betsy Baytos performed in anything else with the Muppets? I'd like to know her story regarding her employment with the Muppets.
  2. jobi71

    jobi71 Well-Known Member

    I too am interested in the "guest star/day player" folks who appeared in all/some five seasons. I think the extra people season five were there for two purposes. Several of the production numbers were ambitious requiring more than the core players and not just background chorus folk. There needed to be an extra hand or two to make the production numbers possible. And so players like Bob Payne were brought in. He had worked with Jim before and could be the "extra guy". Plus Jim was looking ahead to future projects (Fraggle Rock etc) so what better way to have Karen Prell get experience before a camera with a puppet than to do some background work here. This next part is 100% supposition. Jim often wanted to have full bodied puppets used with dancers. And it seemed that these puppets never quite made the impact he wanted. They appeared in an episode or two and then vanished. I am guessing maybe Jim and Betsy hit it off personality wise or sense of humor. i.e. "You know we can't use your dancing bird here but what if you helped us with a criminal pig?" And she fit in with the work ethic and was background for a dozen episodes.

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