Jerry Juhl's replacement of Jack Burns as head writer, the
show becomes tighter in structure and focuses more on plot
and character development. Juhl is arguably one of the Muppets'
all-time best writers as he understands what makes the characters
real and enduring. This is already evident in this episode
as he gives Fozzie Bear - a character who in the first season
was mainly just a struggling comedian - an expanded role in
the backstage plot and allowing the character to grow and
develop through his roles with other characters.
Fozzie's comedy spots are seen less frequently this year (and
when they do appear, the bear tries out several new acts besides
a standard monologue such as ventriloquism, roller skating,
and phrenology) and Fozzie is used more in sketches and backstage
plots. This episode in particular, being about Fozzie's attempt
to assist Kermit with his duties, even sees him introducing
acts and hosting the talk spot.
in their brief comments, Statler and Waldorf are even treated
with some character development during their exchanges as
Waldorf is presented as being less observant and more senile.
(More of the "old fool" that Statler often delights in calling
various puppeteers contributed to the show's first season,
the main cast was Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard
Hunt, Dave Goelz, John Lovelady, and Eren Ozker. John and
Eren are no longer part of the cast and the five remaining
Muppeteers will comprise the cast for all of the second year,
later to be joined by Louise Gold (who inexplicably won't
be officially credited for her contributions until the following
only real evidence of John and Eren's absence is witnessed
in Veterinarian's Hospital as Jerry Nelson takes over the
voiceover duties and Richard Hunt inherits Janice (the most
logical choice since the other four members of The Electric
Mayhem's puppeteers still remained.) In Richard's first performance
of Janice, he tries to emulate Eren's Janice voice. The attempt
is not all that successful which may be why Janice is absent
from the final number; Richard is still not quite sure what
he wants to do with the character. As will soon be seen, the
next time Richard tries his hand at Janice, he experiments
a little more with making the character his own with much
of the puppets are reconstructed or designed. Some of the
most prominent new puppets seen in this episode is Floyd Pepper
who now has the ability to blink his eyes and Fozzie who in
addition to having a brighter orange hue and an overall tighter
design and less "dopey" appearance, also contains a mechanism
that allows his eyebrows to move. Unfortunately the effect
is barely noticeable (especially when Fozzie's wearing his
hat), and this feature will be done away with when the puppet
is replaced with another version about seven episodes into
the year. Miss Piggy, only seen in Vet's Hospital, is perhaps
the most dramatic change with a more rounded face. This puppet
will also soon be replaced with another upgrade since the
puppet builders wanted to gradually make Piggy more attractive
and less "generic looking" than the original first season
puppet. The gradual refurbishment will continue through the
middle of next season where Piggy becomes a more feminine
beautified pig (in time for the shooting of "The Muppet Movie")
and by that point future Piggy puppets would be crafted using
the same mold rather than individually carved heads. (Miss
Piggy's look will continue to evolve with the times even up
to present day.)
Hinkley, a veteran variety show writer joins the writing staff
this year and becomes the exclusive writer of the Veterinarian's
BY Jim Henson
BY Jerry Juhl, Joseph A. Bailey, Jim Henson, and Don Hinkley
BY Peter Harris
MUPPET PERFORMERS FEATURING Frank Oz (lead gingerbread man,
Miss Piggy, Animal)
Jerry Nelson (Gorgan Heap, gingerbread man,
windmill creature, Floyd, Berlington Bertie)
gingerbread man, Statler, small creature, Big Mama, Janice)
Henson (Kermit, Waldorf, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth)
AND THEIR COSTUMES BY Caroly Wilcox, Mari Kaestle, Dave
Lovelady, Rollin Krewson, Amy Van Gilder, Calista Hendrickson,
Larry Jameson and Bonnie Erickson
PUPPETS BY Don Sahlin
CREATIVE CONSULTANTS: Frank Oz, Michael Frith
CONSULTANT: Larry Grossman
DIRECTOR: David Chandler
CONDUCTED BY Jack Parnell
ASSOCIATE: Derek Scott
DIRECTOR: Phil Hawkes
TAPE EDITOR: Tim Waddell
TO THE PRODUCER: Sue Taylor
FLOOR MANAGER: Richard Holloway
MANAGER: Martin Baker
MANAGER: Caryl Cruickshank
VIDEO ENGINEER: John Crane
CAMERAMAN: Mike Whitcutt
MIXER: Carole Legg
BY James Dark
BY Mary Southgate
MUSIC: Sam Pottle
PRODUCER FOR HENSON ASSOCIATES, INC.: David Lazer
Knotts - Episode 25
Dates: Week of May 24, 1977
Original Airdates: November 28, 1977 (New York) and November
18, 1977 (LA)
DVD Release: Buena
Vista Home Video, 2007
Brian Henson: "Hi,
I'm Brian Henson. Comedy is really difficult. One thing that happens with comedy
writers is that they are all really good at coming up with beginnings... really
good set ups, but they can't figure out how to pay them off."
I'll share with you one of the real secrets to the Muppets. What my father figured
out was if
you can't get out, you just either blow something up, or you eat something,
or you just throw penguins in the air. Here it is, The Muppet Show."
not happy with his choice of dressing room partners.
balcony: Statler & Waldorf are just taking their seats.
horn: Flames shoot out.
announces tonight's guest is the "slightly nervous"
Don Knotts and brings on the opening number.
NUMBER - "SWEET GINGERBREAD MAN"
quartet of full-body gingerbread men dance as a fifth takes
the lead vocals in the foreground.
the concept of the number is simple, the design of both the
costume and puppet gingerbread men are quite effective. Both
are made to look as "flat" as possible and the dancers
in particular are aided by some great choreography that amplifies
I know what's wrong with this show.
It's the theatre.
What's wrong with it?
The seats face the stage!
announces that he's planning part of tonight's show and introduces
the next number.
He plans his parts and I plan the good parts!
interjects his brief interruption from Kermit with "...moving
RIGHT along..." which will be the title of his duet with
Kermit in "The Muppet Movie".]
NUMBER - "WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND"
fuzzy creature discloses that despite his outwardly calm demeanor,
his internal nature is quite opposite as the viewer is invited
into his mind which shows him running frantically around as
he sings his song faster and faster!
puppet is designed with a cartoonish Road Runner-style rotating
series of legs that move around in a wheel! Poor Jerry Nelson
must have impressed everyone the year before in the Ruth
Buzzi episode as Floyd was forced to sing "Sonny"
at a growing tempo that he once again repeats this vocal dexterity
Well, how'd you like that opening number?
Hmm..oh, I didn't notice it.
Didn't notice it? How is that possible? It was loud and raucous
with a screaming thing running amuck! How could you not notice
In the future, I'll try to be more observant.
running creature runs and screams through their balcony
and jumps out of it completely unnoticed by Waldorf.)
Would you do that please?
demands a word with Kermit about the "Lullaby of Birdland"
number. Fearing a retread of the Kaye
Ballard episode's experience, Kermit quickly interjects
that the idea was Fozzie's. Floyd heartily congratulates the
bear for allowing the band to finally perform a jazz classic.
Statler & Waldorf's comment and this scene make reference
to the Windmills bit as being the opening number - this may
have originally have been intended to be the opening number
but got switched during taping.]
contrast with earlier, Kermit now introduces the guest as "the
very relaxed Mr. Don Knotts."
- "BEAST OF THE WEEK"
plays the host of a children's show and introduces a newly discovered,
still-unnamed creature, a cute little ball of brown fur that's
more aggressive than it initially lets on. Unfortunately, its
mother shares the same ability of getting out of "escape
the grand tradition of naming Muppet Monsters after the function
of their first appearance, the large brown monster introduced
at the end of this sketch is known as "Big Mama".]
Well, that Don Knotts is one great performer.
He certainly is. When is he going to be on?
He was just on!
Oh, did I like him?
Yeah, you laughed like crazy.
(aside): He's got a great sense of humor, but a terrible memory.
that Fozzie's "so hip, you make us flip", Floyd alerts
Fozzie that he's been christened a "bono-fide registered
hip dude" and presents him with ultra-dark "official
Charlie Parker Lives super cool sunglasses".
medical trio examine the creature from the "Windmill"
BOB: This bird has one foot in the grave.
But he has three feet on the table!
That's nothing, I left two feet in Cincinnati!
SKETCH: MUSICAL NUMBER - "BURLINGTON BERTIE"
old gentleman in a ratty suit performs some crowd-pleasing English
Music Hall. [Perhaps since the American puppeteers have become
more acclimated to their English setting, many of the UK sketches
this year actually carry a more English flavor often drawing
on traditional Music Hall influence. Jerry Nelson gets a chance
to display his ear for dialects in this number.]
still wearing his shades, fills in for Kermit and discusses
being hip with Don. Mr. Knotts pulls out his own large sunglasses
and the two bond in their visual impairment.
NUMBER - "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD"
sweetly serenades and strokes a live cocker spaniel. [The dog
in this number would be the first of many real animals brought
onto The Muppet Show set during season two. Perhaps due to the
direct experience of the old show business creed, "Avoid
working with animals and children", subsequent seasons
don't continue the trend.]
personally wants to shake Fozzie's hand. Of course Animal tends
to shake more than the hand.
commands for Animal to heel hint at the idea that Floyd tends
to serve in some care taking role for Animal, which will be
explored further as the year progresses.]
Chef attempts to make "fishie chowder" with a still-alive
fish with a kleptomaniac streak.
What's wrong with you?
It's either this show or indigestion. I hope it's indigestion.
It'll get better in a little while.
worries when Floyd announces the band needs a bass player for
the Birdland number since he'll be playing the vibes - but Fozzie
has already taken care of the situation.
full wigged-out hip (and blinded) mode, Fozzie brings on a "golden
goodie from Fozzie's Wiggy Wonderworld"!
NUMBER - "LULLABY OF BIRDLAND"
Electric Mayhem discovers their bass player is none other than
Don Knotts - complete with zoot suit, his oversized sunglasses
and music stand. (Dr. Teeth: "Sheet music? I haven't seen
that stuff in years! Look at that - the cat can follow the dots!")
Once the music starts, it becomes obvious Don's qualifications
are lacking - he first tries playing the bass with a bow rather
than plucking it, and then has difficulty keeping up with the
rest of the band.
thanks guest Don Knotts and Fozzie Bear for helping plan the
show - who is subsequently officially and permanently de-shaded
by the band.
This show is awful.
See you next week?
D. W. McKim and Phillip Chapman
Video Captures by