Ben Vereen - Episode 17
Dates: October 4-7, 1976
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."
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.
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.
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.
[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!]
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.]
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.
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.]
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.
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 remains unconvinced and Fozzie gets his face stuck in the peephole.
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.]
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.
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.
Hilda tries to comfort Fozzie assuring him that things could be worse...
Fozzie's latest disappointment is soon relieved as Kermit tells him that he's not cutting his act from the show.
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.
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.]
Fozzie rejoices that with Crazy Harry's help, he was able to get out of the box. Crazy Harry's helpfulness remains short-lived.
[Stater's brief reaction to his pants being on fire was cut from the initial US broadcasts.]