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EPISODE NOTES

With 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.

Indeed, 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.

Even 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 him.)

Although 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 year.)

The 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 stronger results.

Several 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.)

Don Hinkley, a veteran variety show writer joins the writing staff this year and becomes the exclusive writer of the Veterinarian's Hospital sketches.

PRODUCED BY Jim Henson

WRITTEN BY Jerry Juhl, Joseph A. Bailey, Jim Henson, and Don Hinkley

DIRECTED BY Peter Harris

THE MUPPET PERFORMERS FEATURING Frank Oz (lead gingerbread man, Fozzie Bear,
Miss Piggy, Animal)

with Jerry Nelson (Gorgan Heap, gingerbread man,
windmill creature, Floyd, Berlington Bertie)

Richard Hunt (Scooter,
gingerbread man, Statler, small creature, Big Mama, Janice)

Dave Goelz
(Gonzo, Zoot)

Jim Henson (Kermit, Waldorf, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth)

PUPPETS AND THEIR COSTUMES BY Caroly Wilcox, Mari Kaestle, Dave Goelz, John
Lovelady, Rollin Krewson, Amy Van Gilder, Calista Hendrickson, Faz Fazakas,
Larry Jameson and Bonnie Erickson

SPECIAL PUPPETS BY Don Sahlin

MUPPET CREATIVE CONSULTANTS: Frank Oz, Michael Frith

MUSICAL CONSULTANT: Larry Grossman

ART DIRECTOR: David Chandler

CHOREOGRAPHER: Gillian Lynne

ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY Jack Parnell

MUSICAL ASSOCIATE: Derek Scott

LIGHTING DIRECTOR: Phil Hawkes

AUDIO: Ted Scott

VIDEO TAPE EDITOR: Tim Waddell

ASSISTANT TO THE PRODUCER: Sue Taylor

SENIOR FLOOR MANAGER: Richard Holloway

FLOOR MANAGER: Martin Baker

STAGE MANAGER: Caryl Cruickshank

SENIOR VIDEO ENGINEER: John Crane

SENIOR CAMERAMAN: Mike Whitcutt

VISION MIXER: Carole Legg

COSTUMES BY James Dark

MAKE-UP BY Mary Southgate

THEME MUSIC: Sam Pottle

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR HENSON ASSOCIATES, INC.: David Lazer

Don Knotts - Episode 25

Taping 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

GENERIC INTRO: COMEDY

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."

"Well now 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."

DRESSING ROOM

Don's not happy with his choice of dressing room partners.

OPENING THEME

The balcony: Statler & Waldorf are just taking their seats.

Gonzo's horn: Flames shoot out.

CURTAIN

Kermit announces tonight's guest is the "slightly nervous" Don Knotts and brings on the opening number.

OPENING NUMBER - "SWEET GINGERBREAD MAN"

A quartet of full-body gingerbread men dance as a fifth takes the lead vocals in the foreground.

[Though 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 the illusion.]

BALCONY

STATLER: I know what's wrong with this show.

WALDORF: What?

STATLER: It's the theatre.

WALDORF: What's wrong with it?

STATLER: The seats face the stage!

CURTAIN

Fozzie announces that he's planning part of tonight's show and introduces the next number.

KERMIT: He plans his parts and I plan the good parts!

[Fozzie interjects his brief interruption from Kermit with "...moving RIGHT along..." which will be the title of his duet with Kermit in "The Muppet Movie".]

MUSICAL NUMBER - "WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND"

A 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!

[The 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 here.]

BALCONY

STATLER: Well, how'd you like that opening number?

WALDORF: Hmm..oh, I didn't notice it.

STATLER: Didn't notice it? How is that possible? It was loud and raucous with a screaming thing running amuck! How could you not notice it?

WALDORF: In the future, I'll try to be more observant.

(The running creature runs and screams through their balcony and jumps out of it completely unnoticed by Waldorf.)
STATLER: Would you do that please?
BACKSTAGE

Floyd 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.

[Both 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.]

CURTAIN

In contrast with earlier, Kermit now introduces the guest as "the very relaxed Mr. Don Knotts."

SKETCH - "BEAST OF THE WEEK"

Don 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 proof" cages.

[In 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".]

BALCONY

STATLER: Well, that Don Knotts is one great performer.

WALDORF: He certainly is. When is he going to be on?

STATLER: He was just on!

WALDORF: Oh, did I like him?

STATLER: Yeah, you laughed like crazy.

WALDORF: Oh, good.

STATLER (aside): He's got a great sense of humor, but a terrible memory.

BALCONY

Announcing 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".

VETERINARIAN'S HOSPITAL

The medical trio examine the creature from the "Windmill" number.

DR BOB: This bird has one foot in the grave.

JANICE: But he has three feet on the table!

CREATURE: That's nothing, I left two feet in Cincinnati!

UK SKETCH: MUSICAL NUMBER - "BURLINGTON BERTIE"

An 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.]

TALK SPOT

Fozzie, 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.

MUSICAL NUMBER - "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD"

Rowlf 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.]

BACKSTAGE

Animal personally wants to shake Fozzie's hand. Of course Animal tends to shake more than the hand.

[Floyd's 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.]

SWEDISH CHEF

The Chef attempts to make "fishie chowder" with a still-alive fish with a kleptomaniac streak.

BALCONY

WALDORF: Ohhh...

STATLER: What's wrong with you?

WALDORF: It's either this show or indigestion. I hope it's indigestion.

STATLER: Why?

WALDORF: It'll get better in a little while.

BACKSTAGE

Kermit 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.

CURTAIN

In full wigged-out hip (and blinded) mode, Fozzie brings on a "golden goodie from Fozzie's Wiggy Wonderworld"!

CLOSING NUMBER - "LULLABY OF BIRDLAND"

The 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.

CURTAIN

Kermit thanks guest Don Knotts and Fozzie Bear for helping plan the show - who is subsequently officially and permanently de-shaded by the band.

CLOSING THEME

STATLER: This show is awful.

WALDORF: Terrible.

STATLER: Disgusting.

WALDORF: See you next week?

STATLER: Of course.

Guide Written by
D. W. McKim and Phillip Chapman

Video Captures by
Alex Taylor

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