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EPISODE NOTES

When Gonzo explains his mother died before he was born and left a note to his father regarding Gonzo's name, this is possibly contradicted in the Jason Alexander episode of Muppets Tonight where Gonzo claims his mother liked his unique college interpretation of Death of a Salesman. However the whole notion of Gonzo remembering his parents is somewhat dispelled in the 1999 film Muppets From Space.

These various back stories can still be somewhat rectified though, Gonzo's Muppets Tonight protestations are obviously an off the-cuff attempt to defend a former failure...and who's to say his mother didn't leave him a note saying how much she would enjoy his show! Though the film hints in the Gonzo-staring-at-other-Muppets'-family-portraits scene implies he has no memory (or at least photos) of his parents, there's no mention of how exactly Gonzo was raised, so when he references his "father", that could have been a figurative role assumed by any possible adult figure from the whatever's childhood years. And if we REALLY want to speculate, that same "father figure" could have told Gonzo the note story as a cover-up for the truth.

As referenced in the notes to the Rich Little episode, this is the episode where Fleet Scribbler is put into a major storyline and like J.P. Grosse, tends to be a little too hard on the frog which made the writers want to drop the character. Because the press (obviously) loved the Muppet, he would continue to make brief cameos up to season three and even is referenced (but not seen) in the Gilda Radner episode where Kermit is providing some quotes via phone.

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 (Miss Piggy, Fozzie)

with Jerry Nelson (pig, Fleet, whatnot, machine)

Richard Hunt (Scooter, Statler, pig, whatnot, Janice)

Dave Goelz (Gonzo, whatnot)

Jim Henson (Kermit, Waldorf, Rowlf, whatnot, Swedish Chef)

[uncredited] Louise Gold (pig)

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

MUSIC CONSULTANT: Larry Grossman

ART DIRECTOR: Bryan Holgate

ORCHESTRA CONDUCTED BY Jack Parnell

MUSICAL ASSOCIATE: Derek Scott

LIGHTING DIRECTOR: Jim Boyers

AUDIO: Roger Knight

VIDEO TAPE EDITOR: Tim Waddell

ASSISTANT TO THE PRODUCER: Sue Taylor

SENIOR FLOOR MANAGER: Richard Holloway

FLOOR MANAGER: Stephen Springford

STAGE MANAGER: Sara Paul

SENIOR VIDEO ENGINEER: Jim Reeves

SENIOR CAMERAMAN: Bill Brown

VISION MIXER: Felicity Maton

COSTUMES BY James Dark

MAKE-UP BY Anita Harris

THEME MUSIC: Sam Pottle

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR HENSON ASSOCIATES, INC.: David Lazer

George Burns - Episode 34

Taping Dates: Week of August 2, 1977
Original Airdates: September 19, 1977 (New York) and September 16, 1977 (LA)
DVD Release: Time-Life, 2002;
Columbia Tri-Star, 2004; Buena Vista Home Video, 2007

GEORGE BURNS INTRO

Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. George Burns is the guest star in this episode of The Muppet Show. One of my favorite bits to watch out for is the "Monster and Machine" sketch where the monster slowly eats the machine bit by bit has a wonderful and typically Muppet twist ending. After the shooting of this episode, my father received a thank you letter from George Burns. "At my age", it said, "Miss Piggy is starting to look good to me." Here he is, George Burns on The Muppet Show."

DRESSING ROOM

Gonzo fiddles while George...uh...burns.

OPENING

The balcony: Waldorf says, "Isn't the opening pretentious?"

Gonzo's horn: Gonzo is startled by a gunshot from his trumpet.

CURTAIN/BALCONY

Statler finds humor in the cold opener gag.

OPENING NUMBER - "CUENTA LA GUSTA"

Miss Piggy pulls off a bravura Spanish number. Piggy's fantastic can-can is upstaged only by an upside down trumpet soloist!

[This song appeared on The Muppet Show 2 and Muppets Hits.]

BALCONY

STATLER: Well, there it is, your basic Latin number.

WALDORF: Well actually, it's your basic Pig Latin number.

BACKSTAGE

Kermit finds Fleet Scribbler, gossip columnist for the Daily Scandal snooping about backstage. Kermit tries to usher him out but the reporter manages to find a sensationalistic headline in everything the frog says or does.

KERMIT: I never knew the press could be so depressing!

CURTAIN

Kermit presents George Burns with a cigar and a song.

MUSICAL NUMBER - "TRAIN BACK HOME"

George banters a bit with Rowlf about working with dogs before smoking his way through a ditty.

GEORGE: Hold it, hold it, Rowlf. You're liable to hurt yourself. Play like you're not being paid.

[Rowlf's joke about being another Jascha Heifetz, the violinist...("Nobody will know the difference, George.") is alluded to in The Muppet Movie.]

BALCONY

STATLER: That George Burns is a great singer.

WALDORF: Yeah well, so am I Statler.

STATLER: What?

WALDORF: Sure, you wanna hear me sing?

STATLER: Only if you sing tenor.

WALDORF: Tenor?

STATLER: Ten or eleven miles away!

BACKSTAGE

Miss Piggy (aside to unseen person): "How should I know what Cuenta La Gusta means?"
FLEET: Hiya chickie baby!

PIGGY: Watch it, Buster!

FLEET: I'm Fleet Scribbler from The Daily Scandal, I'm a reporter.

PIGGY: ...and what can your chickie baby do for you?

Fleet probes Piggy for some inside gossip on the inner workings of The Muppet Show and butters up the ham to start dishing.

[When Fleet offers Piggy a photo spread for "Page Three", he's referencing an English tabloid practice of nude modeling!]

MUSICAL NUMBER - "CHATANOOGA CHOO-CHOO"

A quartet learns that a train track is not the best place for a musical number.

[But then again, Muppets don't often learn from their mistakes...Wayne and Wanda probably could have warned them against it - and the entire cast will do a show from a train station next season (though they don't perform Chattanooga Choo-Choo). This song is done as a closing number in the Louie Anderson episode of 1989's The Jim Henson Hour.]

DRESSING ROOM

Kermit attempts to warn George about Fleet Scribbler but the guest is already well-versed in squelching questions with quips and fighting fire with (cigar) smoke.

VETERINARIAN'S HOSPITAL

Dr. Bob discovers another inanimate object as his patient - this time a telephone provides the connection for some party lines.

DR. BOB: Wait a minute, uh, Nurse Piggy?

NURSE PIGGY (dying of laughter from previous jokes): Y-y-y-es? Yes? Ha-ha-ha!

DR. BOB: Do you have the next line?

NURSE PIGGY (barely able to talk through her laughter): Ha-ha-ha, yes, ha-ha-ha, but I can't say it!

DR. BOB: How come?

NURSE PIGGY: THE LINE'S BUSY!

UK SKIT: MUSICAL NUMBER - "WOTCHER (KNOCKED 'EM IN THE OLD KENT ROAD)"

Fozzie Bear again demonstrates that he can be quite a gifted performer when he's not attempting stand-up as he entertains the audience with some classic English Music Hall. His singing puts his comedy to shame as he even gets Statler and Waldorf's approval as they sing along!

[This song appeared in the 1977 UK Muppet Music Hall EP.]

DRESSING ROOM

Gonzo stops by George's dressing room for a reminiscence of showbiz lore...mostly his own.

GEORGE: How'd you get a name like Gonzo?

GONZO: My mother gave it to me...she died two years before I was born.

GEORGE: Well if she died two years before you were born, how could she give you that name?

GONZO: She left a note to my father.

MUSICAL NUMBER - "I WON'T DANCE"

What at first looks to be an installment of At the Dance turns out to be a hilarious duet between Miss Piggy and Kermit - a musical duet obviously since Kermit...well...won't dance despite Piggy's aggressive pursuits.

[The results of this number is what probably drives Kermit to do a song-and-dance duet instead with Miss Mousey two episodes later.]

BALCONY

WALDORF: Bravo! Bravo!

STATLER: Why are you yelling Bravo? Did you like it that much?

WALDORF: No, a friend of mine, Joe Bravo - he's sitting in the third row...BRAVO! BRAVO! UP HERE!

SKETCH - "MONSTER & MACHINE"

Luncheon Counter Monster discovers a curious and delicious looking machine in auto-demonstration mode. As the machine points out its various features, the monster responds by eating them.

MACHINE: On top of the intercellular power generator is you will see a spherical voltage oblongata. (Monster eats it.) It should be noted that this unit alone is worth over $17,000. (Monster wipes mouth to sound of cash register.)

[This sketch hails from The Muppets' early talk show appearances and an IBM Meeting Film with a proto Cookie Monster then in the role of the hapless monster. A decade later, Luncheon Counter Monster would have similar troubles with a Coffee Machine in a Muppet Meeting Film.]

BALCONY

STATLER: Disgusting! Ever see eating like that?

WALDORF: Sure.

STATLER: Where?

STATLER: Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.

BACKSTAGE

Kermit learns that Scooter has been a healthy source of information for Scribbler's search for scandal. Truly, it seems this is one reporter who knows how to get a story - even if it requires some studying of Mock-Swedish.

[Keep an eye on Swedish Chef's hand gestures as he dishes on "der froog und der pig".]

CLOSING NUMBER - "IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU/YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU"

After some star struck gushing from Miss Piggy, Rowlf again accompanies George on a tune as a Muppet chorus gathers around for back-up, though Gonzo's lyric sheet is a bit overly repetitive.

CURTAIN

George skirts some final probing from Fleet attempting to link him with Piggy.

CLOSING

WALDORF: How do they DO it?

STATLER: How do we WATCH it?

WALDORF: WHY do we watch it?

STATLER (to camera): Why do YOU watch it?

Guide Written by
D. W. McKim

Video Captures by
James Carroll

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