Rich Little - Episode 28Taping Dates: Week of June 14, 1977
Original Airdates: September 26, 1977 (New York) and September 23, 1977 (LA)
DVD Release: Buena Vista Home Video, 2007
GENERIC INTRO: MUSIC
Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. Music has been a big part of the Muppets since the very beginning. When my father started, his first show was called Sam and Friends. At that time, he used to perform with my mother and they would puppeteer lip-syncing to records."
"By the time of The Muppet Show my mother was now at home raising a house full of crazy kids, and the Muppets were singing with their own voices. And they sang with some of the greatest musical talents of our time: Paul Simon, Elton John, Diana Ross, and many, many more. Whether it's chickens playing chopsticks on the piano or a bunch of eskimo pigs singing "Lullaby of Broadway", you can never tell what you will hear next. Here it is, The Muppet Show."
Shot from the outside of the dressing room door, Rich Little entertains Scooter with some impressions one-by-one complete with costumes.
The balcony: Waldorf says, "I've seen enough, let's leave."Gonzo's horn: A large yellow balloon inflates from inside the horn.
Kermit announces they wanted to get every superstar on their stage at the same time but they couldn't make it ("You know, babysitting problems and stuff like that.") so they've booked Rich Little as a reasonable facsimile.
OPENING NUMBER - "CHANSON D' AMOUR"
A trio of French singers are joined by Crazy Harry singing the "Ya da da da da"'s - but of course Harry can't perform without his favorite accessory.
[Note: Aside from a brief cameo in the Zero Mostel episode, this is our first real good look at Jerry Nelson's version of Crazy Harry, previously played by John Lovelady (and sometimes Richard Hunt). This is about as perfect a recast as one can get - the vocal performance is very much in keeping with what's already been created including the trademark laugh and the physical mannerisms are completely true to the character as well...yet at the same time Nelson makes the character his own.]
Gonzo asks Kermit to keep a lookout for chickens that might have read his ad in the paper for dancing chicken auditions.
Kermit brings on the only man he knows who can be anyone he feels like.
GUEST STAR SPOT
Rich Little performs impressions of members of the Muppet cast while coming face to face with his subjects. Waldorf and Statler attempt to heckle Rich's Fozzie but is subdued with Rich's version of Statler. Miss Piggy isn't too thrilled with the sound of Kermit conversing with another woman.
Ever the professional, Rowlf assists Gonzo in his auditions by providing piano accompaniment. The chicken is very good at being a chicken, but not of the dancing variety.
AT THE DANCE
Crazy Harry helps escort a luckless Animal out of the ballroom.
UK SKIT: MUSICAL NUMBER - "THE BOY IN THE GALLERY"
Rowlf plays piano from an otherwise bare orchestra pit as Miss Piggy sings a solo and gets the audience to wave white handkerchiefs in theme with the song...even Waldorf is won over.
[The staging here of Miss Piggy appearing in full view onstage being performed from beneath the stage floor with Rowlf in the pit in the same wide shot of the stage is inspired by the work done between the seasons on the special "Emmett Otter's Jug-band Christmas". Though not the first Muppet special to have employed staging with puppets being performed through platformed sets, Emmett Otter made the most elaborate use of this technique so far and many similar shots of a full stage with characters being performed from underneath the set were incorporated in the talent show segment. "Boy in the Gallery" was included on the EP, The Muppet Show Music Hall.]
SKETCH - "INCHWORM"
Another classic sketch from Sam & Friends and the variety show circuit - only Kermit's classic role is replaced by Lenny the Lizard speaking in what suspiciously sounds like the Swedish Chef's "Mock-Swedish".
STAGE DOOR ALLEY
Rich steps outside the theatre to meet up with a group of reporters (including The Muppet Newsman, Mildred, and Fleet Scribbler) to do a mini press conference. Newsman assures Rich he can just be himself and doesn't have to perform, but an enamored Mildred can't resist swooning over Little's impersonations.
[There's an impressive shot of a group of Muppet Monsters here where some of the puppet Monsters like Big Mama and Gorgan are staged behind (and taller than) full-sized Monsters Sweetums and Timmy giving off the illusion that they're costumed Monsters as well.]
Gonzo starts weeding down the finalists by checking experience levels.
Fozzie, the first-ever patient, makes a return engagement though he only gets in one joke. The team takes advantage of all the bear jokes they missed out on last year.
[Instead of trying to imitate Eren Ozker's version of Janice like he did before, Richard Hunt is starting to perform the character with his own new voice and characterization sprinkling her dialogue with Valley-girl type "wows".]
Kermit can't use Gonzo's act because it's not up to their level of sophistication but soon finds himself in need of a replacement when Nureyev can't make it.
[Of course if he wanted to, Kermit could have sent out Rich Little to impersonate Nureyev - and/or his seal, but instead chooses to save face with a dejected Gonzo.]
The only act he's got, Kermit introduces Gonzo and his dancing chicken, Lolita.
Though off to a slow start and missing out on a big finish, Lolita does demonstrate an impressive ability to do the splits.
[In more innovative full-body staging, Gonzo is seen standing on the stage but this time the puppet is being performed from behind the curtain he's standing in front of rather than from underneath the floor. This 30 second spot took seven hours to edit.]
Statler and Waldorf take note of the warm reception the act receives from the Muppet Chickens in the audience.
Sounding like he's paraphrasing the Muppet Labs motto, Kermit introduces musical moments from yesterday as recreated today by Rich Little.
MUSICAL NUMBER - IMPRESSION MEDLEY
Rich appears in three vignettes slipping into different characters as he duets with Fozzie on "Singin' In the Rain", Kermit on "Well Did You Evah?" and Miss Piggy on "I Remember It Well".
[Displaying her usual double standard, Miss Piggy suggestively delivers some lines to Rich regardless of her earlier fury at the frog's fictional flirtations.]
Rich debuts his impression of the latest Muppet Show superstar as an encore to Kermit's exasperation and Gonzo's approval.
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