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EPISODE NOTES

Signaling that Richard Hunt is still grasping the character, Janice is onstage during the opening number playing with the rest of the band but has no lines throughout the episode nor is seen with the others leaving the stage.

In other recasts, Jerry Nelson makes his debut as Crazy Harry (previously played by John Lovelady). The voice and mannerisms are very close to what was previously established.

In an effort to fill the now-void female Muppeteer role, actress/voiceover artist Richenda Carey provides the voice for "Queen Featherstone" in an uncredited performance. Starting here and with the following two episodes, a different female performer is publicly "auditioned" to join the repertoire. Carey only does voiceover work and no puppeteering (unlike the other two) in her episode which is probably why she didn't get the job. The third to audition in the Rich Little episode will be Louise Gold who wins the open slot and would remain with The Muppet Show for the rest of its run.

"At The Dance", an almost constant sketch in the first season, is seen less each subsequent year. It returns for year two with a successful gimmick used in last year's Vincent Price episode, all the jokes revolve around a theme. Some future At The Dance spots will still be random jokes, but a common motif starts becoming more evident.

Another returning sketch is "Muppet Labs". After his last encounter with exploding clothes, it appears Bunsen Honeydew has wised up and hired a full-time assistant, er guinea pig, Beaker. He's a tall thin creature who looks like he might be related to Zelda Rose. One of Beaker's trademarks would become his limited vocabulary. Most of his dialogue consists of "mee mee meeps". In his first appearance, it seems that the original concept of the character is of a being that is so terrified of what he's experiencing that he isn't able to spit any words out and communicates mostly in wordless gasps - this will quickly evolve in future appearances into his more famous "meeps".

A new set is introduced in this episode's UK skit, the prop room. The function appears to be as a place where backstage action can occur that might not necessarily be appropriate for the regular backstage set, though why it's used in this particular episode is unclear as the scene itself would have worked perfectly in the regular backstage set and ends up looking odd precisely because it's in a different place. Kermit has his call sheet on a table in front of him as he would be expected to reference at his standard desk and when he calls out for Fozzie and Zero to get ready for the pantomime number, it's unclear where is this particular location. Mostly, it just seems like the set is used in this episode simply because it was built so it may as well be seen. In future episodes, scenes that take place here seem more apt for a rehearsal room, which may be why the third season will debut a canteen/green room set.

This episode heavily features Sam the Eagle. Although he was a major character in the Sex & Violence pilot where he was introduced as someone who kept things from getting out of hand, this role was never really addressed or officially mentioned during the first season of the show proper; Sam was mostly seen introducing Wayne and Wanda and as being an overall grumpy character. With the absence this year of Wayne and Wanda (Wanda having been an Eren Ozker character), Sam's function as a self-appointed censor is redefined in this episode, with Sam even reminding Kermit in the prop room scene what the heck he's doing hanging around the theatre: "I feel my job is to make sure this program is morally upright and cultural and wholesome." For those outside the UK who missed this scene, he later introduces himself to Zero as "the upholder of decency and dignity for this show".

Among the monsters featured in "The Fears of Zero" are the Snerfs, making a rare Muppet Show appearance (seen here without the horn noses from the Bruce Forsythe episode) as well as Timmy Monster who was previously only seen at the end of Ben Vereen's closing number (and in a group publicity shot that would be used for the cover of The Muppet Show LP). The costumed Muppet is given some more distinct facial features giving him a meaner looking appearance which would be redesigned later in the season to a more benevolent look.

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 (Fozzie, Sam Eagle, Animal, dancers, Miss Piggy)

with Jerry Nelson (Behemoth, Floyd, Granny the Gouger, Crazy Harry, Beautiful Day Monster)

Richard Hunt (Scooter, Statler, whatnots, Beaker, Boppity)

Dave Goelz (Muppy, whatnot, Marvin, Bunsen, Zoot, Big Mama)

Jim Henson (Kermit, Waldorf, Dr. Teeth, female whatnot, tennis balls, Rowlf)

PUPPETS AND THEIR COSTUMES BY Caroly Wilcox, Mari Kaetle, 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 K. Frith

MUSIC CONSULTANT: Larry Grossman

ART DIRECTOR: Bryan Holgate

ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY Jack Parnell

MUSICAL ASSOCIATE: Derek Scott

LIGHTING DIRECTOR: Phil Hawkes

AUDIO: Roger Knight

VIDEO TAPE EDITOR: John Hawkins

ASSISTANT TO THE PRODUCER: Joan Chaplow

SENIOR FLOOR MANAGER: Martin Baker

STAGE MANAGER: Caryl Cruickshank

SENIOR VIDEO ENGINEER: John Crane

SENIOR CAMERAMAN: Mike Whitcutt

VISION MIXER: Felicity Maton

COSTUMES BY James Dark

MAKE-UP BY Sheila Mann

THEME MUSIC: Sam Pottle

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR HENSON ASSOCIATES, INC.: David Lazer

Zero Mostel - Episode 26

Taping Dates: May 31-June 2, 1977
Original Airdates: December 13, 1977 (New York) and December 9, 1977 (LA)
DVD Release: Buena Vista Home Video, 2007

ZERO MOSTEL INTRO

Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. This episode of The Muppet Show stars Zero Mostel. At the time, Zero was an acting and comedy phenomenon. One of the funniest pieces in this episode is a classic monologue he performs called "The Fears of Zero" in which Zero's greatest anxieties appear to him as Muppet Monsters who gang up on him and eventually do away with him. Here it is, The Muppet Show."

DRESSING ROOM

Is Zero eating or being eaten?

[This is one of only two dressing room cold openings that begin with a shot of Scooter on the outside of the dressing room door.]

OPENING THEME

The balcony: Waldorf says, "Oh, please let them be funny this once!"

Gonzo's horn: Sparks fly out.

CURTAIN/WINGS

Sam is excited that Chopin's "Polonaise In A Flat" is to be performed as the opening number - until it's revealed that Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem will be subbing for the planned concert pianist.

OPENING NUMBER - "CHOPIN'S POLYNAISE"

Indeed, the Electric Mayhem in all its raucous glory perform a wildly up tempo version of the classic.

[Though watching the Muppet band is quite fun and the puppeteers give their all, real credit must be given to Jack Parnell's orchestra for continually having to pull off such feats throughout the show's history!]

BALCONY

WALDORF: You know, I'm really going to enjoy tonight!

STATLER: You plan to like this show?

WALDORF: No, I plan to watch television! (Pulls out a television set!)

BACKSTAGE

As the band passes through backstage, they remind Kermit that it's payday ("Again, it was payday last year! It's starting to be a habit around here.") Unfortunately, Kermit's a bit short of the required $27.14. (Imagine that divided among the scores of Muppet characters!) Scooter comes to the rescue as he chats on the phone with his uncle, JP Grosse the theatre owner. JP will provide the payroll money as long as Kermit puts on some old-fashioned entertainment...lady wrestling.

CURTAIN

KERMIT: It's time for our special guest to do something special.

MUSICAL NUMBER - "WHAT DO THE SIMPLE FOLK DO?"

Zero plays Henry VIII who poses the musical question to his queen (the Featherstone-esque queen from the Twiggy episode!) and his scene-stealing, kiss-stealing dog Muppy.

BALCONY

WALDORF: What's the name of this movie?

STATLER: Beach Blanket Frankenstein.

WALDORF: Awful.

STATLER: Terrible film!

WALDORF: Yeah, well we could watch The Muppet Show instead.

(The two peek over the set onto the stage, shake their heads and return their gazes to the television screen.)

STATLER: Wonderful.

WALDORF: Terrific film!

BACKSTAGE

Kermit tries to work his way through the phone directory on female wrestlers and asks Animal to get the door ("HERE DOOR!")

KERMIT (on phone): Hello, Killer Katy - Tara Toledo, how'd you like to work on The Muppet Show tonight? I see - transcendental meditation...oh that's too bad...

AT THE DANCE

Tennis jokes are served.

UK SKETCH: PROP ROOM

Kermit tries to dodge Sam's inquiries as to the contents of the show.

[As Kermit describes what's coming up, he mentions a musical number with Zoot and Rowlf and a pantomime with Fozzie and Zero. The musical number does appear later on, but there's no act between Fozzie and Zero.]

MUPPET LABS

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew introduces magnetic carrots - and a new lab partner, Beaker.

[The carrots attract a steel rabbit. A replica of this rabbit is included as an accessory with the 2002 Palisades action figure of Bunsen!]

BALCONY

STATLER: Let's switch channels, this show is dull!

WALDORF: You bet!

STATLER: WHAT is THAT?!

WALDORF: It looks like two ancient old guys sitting in a theatre box watching television!

STATLER: That's crazy! No one would watch junk like that!

DRESSING ROOM

Not having the best of days, Sam vents his grievances with the show to Zero who he believes shares his outrage, totally unaware of Mostel's mocking.

BACKSTAGE

Kermit thinks his grandmotherly old lady visitor is joking when she mentions she'd like to audition for the lady wrestler spot. She turns out to be Granny the Gouger.

MUSICAL NUMBER - "SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES"

...and out of Zoot's saxophone.

SKETCH - "FEARS OF ZERO"

Zero recites a poem about confronting his fears - his fears being embodied by all manner of Muppet Monsters.

[A fan favorite, many viewers assume the poem was written by Edgar Allen Poe. But it was actually penned by head writer Jerry Juhl on a yacht during a working vacation.]

BACKSTAGE

KERMIT: Oh where in the world am I going to find another heavyweight, aggressive, tough female with a killer's instinct?

MISS PIGGY: Hello, Kermie...

Piggy's not too thrilled with Kermit's casting brainstorm.

DRUM SOLO

Animal burns up on the drums.

CURTAIN

Scooter introduces the "cultural demonstration of female grace and dexterity", a bout between Granny the Gouger and the Mysterious Ms. Mask.

LADY WRESTLING

We soon learn what's so mysterious about Ms. Mask and why Scooter introduces the match - Kermit returns to his Sam & Friends drag roots in a desperate attempt to take on Granny.

CURTAIN

A heavily bandaged Kermit brings on Zero who's joined the ranks of the Muppet Monsters. As the camera cuts away to the closing theme, Zero is starting to bite Sam as Big Mama closes in on Zero!

CLOSING THEME

STATLER: Well, what do you think of television? (Waldorf touches the set and is electrified.) Shocking isn't it?

Guide Written by
D. W. McKim

Video Captures by
Alex Taylor

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