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EPISODE NOTES

Ben Vereen received a Tony Award for his role in "Pippen". Before he became a star in his own right, Ben was an understudy for Sammy Davis Jr. in 1964.

A new version of Janice premieres in this episode. Janice has a new head sculpt.

Sam also received a makeover. The builders revised his head and made him slightly bluer in color.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Jim Henson

PRODUCED BY Jack Burns

WRITTEN BY Jack Burns, Marc London, Jim Henson, and Jerry Juhl

DIRECTED BY Peter Harris

THE MUPPET PERFORMERS FEATURING

Frank Oz (Fozzie, Mildred, George, Sam)

with Jerry Nelson (2-headed Whatnot, female whatnots, Screaming Girl, Herman, House, Droop)

Richard Hunt (2-headed Whatnot, Statler, pigs, Miss Piggy, Wayne, Scooter)

Dave Goelz (Zoot, Gonzo)

Eren Ozker (Janice, Hilda, Wanda)

John Lovelady (Two-headed Whatnot, Crazy Harry, house, announcer)

Jim Henson (Kermit, Rowlf, Waldorf, Newsman, whatnots)

PUPPETS BY Bonnie Erickson and Caroly Wilcox, Mari Kaestle, Dave Goelz, John Lovelady, Rollin Krewson, Faz Fazakas, Larry Jameson

SPECIAL PUPPETS BY Don Sahlin

MUPPET COSTUME DESIGNER: Bonnie Erickson

MUPPET CREATIVE CONSULTANTS: Frank Oz, Mike Frith

ART DIRECTOR: Bryan Colgate

ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY Jack Parnell

MUSICAL ASSOCIATE: Derek Scott

LIGHTING DIRECTOR: John Rook

ASSISTANT TO PRODUCERS: Joan Chaplow

MUSIC CONSULTANT: Larry Grossman

THEME MUSIC BY Sam Pottle

AUDIO: Roger Knight

VIDEO TAPE ENGINEER: John Willment

SENIOR CAMERAMAN: Michael Whitcutt

VISION MIXER: Carole Legg

COSTUMES BY Sue Lecash

MAKE UP BY Dianne Joyce

SENIOR FLOOR MANAGER: Richard Holloway

FLOOR MANAGER: Martin Baker

STAGE MANAGER: Alani Bray

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR HENSON ASSOCIATES, INC: David Lazer

Ben Vereen - Episode 17

Taping Dates: October 4-7, 1976
Original Airdates: January 24, 1977 (New York) and January 29, 1977 (LA)
DVD Release: Buena Vista Home Video, 2005

GENERIC INTRO: ROWLF

Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. Not many people know that Rowlf the Dog was actually the Muppets first network television star. Rowlf was originally built for a Purina Dog Food commercial. But he later gained fame with weekly appearances on The Jimmy Dean Show in the 1960's. Back then Rowlf was a quiet philosopher with a lot of punch lines."

"When The Muppet Show came along Rowlf became known more for his piano playing expertise. Kermit was my father's best known character, but a lot of people think he was more like Rowlf in real life except he couldn't play the piano as well. Here is another classic episode of The Muppet Show."

OPENING

Fozzie's joke: Hey, I wouldn't say that The Great Gonzo is dumb, but when he graduated from school, he didn't get a diploma - he got a pension!

Gonzo's gong: Gloat hits Gonzo.

CURTAIN

After greeting the crowd and announcing tonight's guest Kermit gets things moving on The Muppet Show.

OPENING NUMBER - "BANDSTAND BOOGIE"

Backed by Rowlf on piano, several Whatnot couples dance as a two-headed whatnot sing the lead. Ben appears out of thin air halfway through the number to demonstrate the dance alluded to in the song as the other Muppets continue to jump, shout, and knock themselves out.

BALCONY

WALDORF: No doubt about it, I'm beginning to like this show.

STATLER: Oh, really?

WALDORF: Yep, it's really starting to grab me.

(Two large furry hands pop up starting to strangle Waldorf.)

STATLER: Well, SOMETHING'S starting to grab you!

BACKSTAGE

Fozzie inquires about the odd box standing around backstage to which Kermit informs him it's a prop for Marvel the Magician's act. Fozzie ignores Kermit's warning not to enter the box or slam the door and gets trapped inside.

FOZZIE: Go get Marvel!

KERMIT: I can't - he's in Toledo!

FOZZIE: And I'm in big trouble!

[NOTE: If Marvel's in Toledo, was he discovered at the same bus station that Marvin Suggs was discovered at? At least he's not going to Morrow!]

CURTAIN

At Kermit's mention of Ben Vereen's being a blockbuster of a talent, Crazy Harry pops up in Statler & Waldorf's balcony and sets off a series of explosions. Finally, he comes down from the box and peeks out from the curtain to present Kermit with a short fuse. [Crazy Harry MUST be crazy - he continues to hold on to his bomb until it explodes!]

MUSICAL NUMBER - "MR. CELLOPHANE"

Amid a quiet street sparsely populated with Whatnots (and George the Janitor) going about their usual existence, Ben sings and dances through the number about a man "no one knows is there". [Ben appears onstage in the first two acts on this show and in contrast to the last number, Ben dissolves away at the end of it.]

BALCONY

STATLER: I think that the guests that come on this show should get combat pay!

WALDORF: What about us?

STATLER: Well, we're volunteers.

WALDORF: Maybe you were. I was drafted into this chicken outfit.

BACKSTAGE

Kermit tries to bash the lock on the magic box with a hammer. Fozzie sympathizes about how disappointed everyone will be when the show is canceled because he can't perform.

To Fozzie's horror, Kermit reluctantly informs Fozzie that replacing the comedian is a more realistic option.

NEWSMAN

A report on Melvin Cosgrove, the record-holder for flagpole sitting who passes away during his feat. His wife will salute his achievements by flying him at half-mast!

AT THE DANCE

The Rolling Stones pay a special visit to the ballroom. [A slightly revised Janice puppet appears for the first time here, with a more rounded and firmer head shape.]

UK SPOT: ONSTAGE - "FUR ELISE"

Rowlf plays "Fur Elise", at one point hitting a wrong note. [This UK spot is also included on the video Rowlf's Rhapsodies.]

TALK SPOT

Ben discusses how he needs to look after his body since it's a dancer's most important tool. Crazy Harry, unfortunately, remains at large sending Ben flying skyward and left hanging from a rafter.

BALCONY

WALDORF: Well, it's time for a teabreak.

STATLER: Oh, all right" (Knocks tea cup off balcony ledge.)

WALDORF: Literal chap, isn't he?"

BACKSTAGE

In an effort to keep from being replaced, Fozzie attempts to show Kermit he can still be funny by pointing out a Muppet Show without Fozzie Bear is like Gilbert without Sullivan, ham without cheese, and Poka without Hauntus.

KERMIT: Poka without Hauntus? What's a Poka?

(Miss Piggy and George come dancing by!)

Kermit remains unconvinced and Fozzie gets his face stuck in the peephole.

VETERINARIAN'S HOSPITAL

To everyone else's exasperation, Dr. Bob focuses more on cracking jokes and bongo practice than treating impatient patient George the Janitor. [A re-recorded version of this routine appears on the original Muppet Show Album.]

TALKING HOUSES

HOUSE 2: My uncle's into poetry - he LOVES Edgar Guest.

HOUSE 1: Why?

HOUSE 2: Why else? He's a Guest House!

ONSTAGE

Hilda asks Ben how he's enjoying the show. Ben gives her a kiss on the hand saying he's getting a big charge out of it, which again prompts Crazy Harry to send him flying to the rafters.

CURTAIN

Sam introduces Wayne & Wanda's stirring rendition of "I'll Know". [Another new puppet makes its debut here - like Janice, this version of Sam closer resembles what he will continue to be known as with a firmer head shape and bluer hue.]

WAYNE & WANDA

No sooner does Wayne belt the opening line of "I'll know when my love comes along" does a rather voluptuous female Whatnot capture his attention.

BACKSTAGE

Hilda tries to comfort Fozzie assuring him that things could be worse...

HILDA: This little door could slam shut... (The door to the peephole closes at her touch.) Things ARE worse!

Fozzie's latest disappointment is soon relieved as Kermit tells him that he's not cutting his act from the show.

CURTAIN

Kermit announces Fozzie's feeling "a bit cagey" tonight as he brings him on.

FOZZIE'S COMEDY SPOT

Two pigs drag the box containing Fozzie on stage (with his hat propped up on top of it) and the Bear attempts to shout his jokes from inside. ("Are you laughing? It's hard to hear!") After a couple of jokes, Kermit has Fozzie take a bow at which point the pigs tip the door over forwards.

CURTAIN

Kermit introduces Ben's closing number.

CLOSING NUMBER - "IMAGINATION"

Ben discovers a bored Droop and points out to him in song the wonders of his environment joined by Bossmen, Muppaphones (without Marvin Suggs), Gawky Birds, Koozbanians, and Timmy Monster. [In his debut appearance which is little more than a brief walk-on, Timmy is little more than a big green full-size heap of fur with minimalistic eyes and antenna. He would be given more distinct features for the second season.]

CLOSING

Fozzie rejoices that with Crazy Harry's help, he was able to get out of the box. Crazy Harry's helpfulness remains short-lived.

STATLER: Fantastic show!

WALDORF: Brilliant show - by the way, your pants are on fire.

[Stater's brief reaction to his pants being on fire was cut from the initial US broadcasts.]

Guide Written by
D. W. McKim and Phillip Chapman

With contributions from
Jogchem Jalink and Dave Ebersole

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