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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: The Muppet Show
Adaptation Displacement: Who here knew the Mahna Mahna song was written for an Italian soft-core "documentary" in the 1960's before Jim Henson decided it would be the perfect material for an early Sesame Street skit??
Gonzo was originally a mournful looking puppet without much of a role. Once his flamboyant oddness was introduced, he became a popular character and eventually was used as narrator in two of the movies. Muppets from Space even lists Dave Goelz before Steve Whitmire, who performs Kermit. Subverted in the 2011 film, where he plays a supporting role again.
The Swedish Chef also fits, in that while the character isn't shown having much interaction with the others, he is popular enough to have briefly gotten his own breakfast cereal. Not to mention the programs that exist to translate English into, um, Sveee-dish. Check out the Muppet Studios Youtube channel to see it in action — the Chef is bordering on Wolverine Publicity for the channel.
Speaking of the Youtube channel, the Swedish Chef, Beaker and Animal have become an Ensemble Darkhorse trio. Likely it's because they're all The Unintelligible in their own different way (Sveedish, meeping and grunting, respectively).
Sam the Eagle demands to know why this site is not patriotic enough to include him as a darkhorse!
UncleDeadly. He didn't appear much (only in a few episodes, musical numbers and the "Muppet Melodrama" sketches), but he became somewhat popular, especially after his major role in the 2011 movie.
On a meta level, the show had a line of action figures by Palisades Toys during the early 2000s that was very popular with collectors. A lot of Muppet fans and toy fans alike praise it as one of the best toylines of all time, and it became renowned for its quality; years after its cancellation, it still has a strong fanbase.
Fridge Brilliance: Danny Kaye and Miss Piggy get into a huge argument right before they're supposed to perform the song "Cheek to Cheek," with the result that for most of the performance they're singing this romantic song to each other with forced smiles and clenched teeth. What makes it brilliant is that "Cheek to Cheek" was originally a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers song, and the sketch not only plays off that pairing visually (with Kaye as the suave older man and Piggy as the younger blonde), it ALSO evokes the popular belief that Astaire and Rogers supposedly hated each other off-camera, despite their great screen chemistry.
The episode hosted by Zero Mostel contains a skit where he recites a poem about his fears, ending with his greatest fear: something for which he himself is only a fear that can be erased by that realization, upon which he vanishes into thin air. Mostel died suddenly before the episode aired, which must have made the scene pretty eerie.
And then there's the scene in Peter Sellers' episode where Kermit finds him dressed in a bizarre mix of costume pieces in his dressing room. ("I was trying to do Queen Victoria, but I've forgotten what she looked like.") When Kermit responds that it's okay for him to be himself on the Muppet show Sellers replies, "That would be impossible. There is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." The scene has since been quoted many times as summing up Sellers' view of himself as doomed to be seen only as his various characters and not his true self. In fact, he contributed to the sketch in lieu of the show's usual scene of the guest star out of character backstage, due to his discomfort at being seen out of character.
One of the show's best moments was Harry Belafonte singing "Turn the World Around" accompanied by African mask-inspired Muppets. The song is upbeat, but it's hard not to cry when you know Belafonte performed the same song at Jim Henson's memorial. The lead-in to the song—which talks about how life is very brief but we can change the world if we care about each other—only makes things worse.
In the Alice Cooper episode, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew enlarges a virus to make it easier to study. (Beaker, of course, gets overwhelmed by it.) The virus is specifically mentioned to be a streptococcus virus. Jim Henson would die of a streptococcus infection a decade later.
Jim Henson singing "If I Could Store Time in a Bottle."
Growing the Beard: The first season is a little slow as mentioned on the main page under Early Installment Weirdness. But the pacing and a lot of hallmarks of the show came about in the future seasons. Beaker for example didn't appear until season 2, so not only did Muppet Labs have a duller looking set, lack its introductory jingle, but it was BUNSEN on the receiving end of all his inventions going wrong. It was also in the second season when Rudolf Nureyev made his appearance on the show, which changed the producers' job of finding willing guest stars into picking and choosing guest stars.
Hilarious in Hindsight: A real-life example. When the series first started, it was a real struggle to obtain guests. The prospect of appearing with "puppets" seemed embarassing, so to get guests, personal favors had to be made/called in. Rudolph Nureyev's Season 2 appearance reversed this. Now, it's hard to believe any actor wouldn't want to be involved in a Muppet production, considering it's a clear sign you've hit the big time as a star to be invited to clown around with Kermit and the gang.
In one episode, a moose named Mickey becomes popular with most of the gang, even leading to them singing "M-I-C-K-E-Y" and wearing special hats. Kermit objects to this and wants nothing to do with Mickey Moose or friend Ronald Duck. Flash forward to thirty years later and, well...
Similarly, the cast's rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star" as the finale of the Star Wars episode. Besides the obvious — Disney now owns both the Muppet and Star Wars franchises — it's also oddly reminiscent of Disney's newest Vanity Plate, which was displayed at the beginning of the 2011 movie. Even funnier (or harsher, depending on your point of view), this episode is why Season 4 of the DVD's was never released, because of the Star Wars licensing. Guess that's not an issue now!
Even cooler was hearing Mark Hamill go absolutely bonkers with vocal impersonations and voice gags. First remember that the special aired before Frank Oz played Yoda. Secondly, after time and facial scarring ended his live-action career, he has had an amazing second act as a voice actor.
In The Muppets' Valentine Show, the first Muppet Show pilot, it's mentioned that guest star Mia Farrow flew in from England. The Muppet Show would end up being produced in England, requiring most of its guest stars to fly to England.
This Muppet Labs sketch pretty much spelled it out for anyone who wasn't already suspecting something between Bunsen and Beaker.
Rowlf and Fozzie make a pretty popular pairing, seeming to stem from their enjoyable onstage chemistry, particularly in the English Country Garden number.
In two obscure "Muppet Melodrama" skits, Wayne plays a hero who's supposed to rescue Miss Piggy from Uncle Deadly, but instead really hits it off with Deadly and forgets all about his damsel in distress. In fact, Piggy is doomed to die because Wayne decides to ASSIST Uncle Deadly after the two share a series of heavy compliments.
Gonzo was also very appreciative when Scooter was turned into a chicken by the rare and bizarre disease cluckitis.
Informed Real Life Fame: Had this to an extent - especially in the first season, when no-one knew how big it was going to be, and the special guests were mostly doing Lew Grade a favour. So there were several British celebs that American audiences had never heard of, but Kermit would still try and convince everyone that Bruce Forsyth was an international megastar. (This went both ways throughout its run, as not all the American guests were familiar to British audiences.)
Nightmare Fuel: The "Hugga Wugga" skit. Among others. (Note: the original Nightmare Fuel page is gone; we're going to have to rebuild it here.)
Older Than They Think: Rowlf pre-dates even the oldest of the regular Muppet cast by many years as a Henson solo act.
Only if you don't include Kermit, who's got seven years on him.
Most of the major characters came from earlier muppet productions. OF the majors, only Fozzie, Scooter, Bunsen and Beaker were created specifically for the show.
Mahna Mahna: That one sole skit on the first episode of The Muppet Shownote Having been performed previously on various variety shows of the 60's and 70's, most notably Ed Sullivan Show became so popular, all three characters made appearances on Muppets Tonight, and all the way into The Muppets!
Angus McGonagle: It helps that his episode has the Star Wars cast.
The Scrappy: Averted for the most part in Robin's case; Robin isn't universally hated by any means, but some Muppet fans can be a little bit testy when he shows up. Not nearly as much as Bean Bunny or Pepe from later productions, though.
Signature Song: "Bein' Green" and "The Rainbow Connection" for Kermit; "Halfway Down the Stairs" for Robin.
Smurfette Breakout: Miss Piggy, one of the few female Muppets, was initially only a minor character, but her popularity skyrocketed and she is now probably the most famous of them, along with Kermit.
So Bad, It's Good: Much of the comedy comes from just how lousy is the variety show that the Muppets put on. Notably, Gonzo's stunts and Fozzie's jokes. The Muppet Show, like Monty Python's Flying Circus and the cartoons of Jay Ward, is a nigh perfect example of how it takes great intelligence and talent to create something so deliberately silly that it crosses the line into awesomeness.
Ugly Cute: It's most apparent in the "monster" characters — Sesame Street monsters such as Grover, Telly or Elmo tend to be more traditionally cute, but the monsters of The Muppet Show and related productions are usually designed to look more grotesque, and are still pretty adorable — but it's a widespread trope for the Muppets in general. In fact, any Muppet not specifically designed to be cute is likely to be Ugly Cute in some way.
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Henson created this series to get away from being typecast as a Childrens entertainer, yet today, you'll regularly find recordings of the series in the kid sections of stores and libraries.
Statler: It says we're ensemble darkhorses here?
Waldorf: Yeah, we don't act and we're better than the rest of em!