Like the former Lamb Chops Playalong, creator/puppeteer/ventriloquist, Shari Lewis, served as the show's anchor, and also featured her puppet creations Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and Charlie Horse. In this series, Shari is the owner/operator of a beachside pizzeria, named after Charlie Horse, and also employs an ensemble including Junior - a teenager who does a few odd jobs for the Music Pizza, Takeout - an anthropomorphic orangatan who makes deliveries, and Cookie - the Music Pizza's resident cook. The show's main educational goal was music, and each episode would focus on one or more aspect of musical education, whether it was related to vocals or instruments.
The series abruptly ended after just 23 episodes. The show had only taped three episodes of the second season before Shari Lewis was diagnosed with cancer in June 1998 and started chemotherapy. Sadly, she passed away on August 2, 1998, after which the show was officially cancelled.
This series provides examples of
- An Aesop: Along with the kind of Slice of Life content geared toward older children, the show has a content focus on music. It was developed in response to a trend of schools cutting funding for instruction in the arts from school budgets.
- And Starring: Dom De Luise as Cookie.
- Birthday Episode: "Spooky Opera Show" takes place during Cookie's birthday, and features a subplot in which Shari tries to put together a surprise party for him.
- Canada, Eh?: Although it's never mentioned just where, exactly, the Music Pizza is located, the series was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, and many of the show's exterior footage was shot on location on the beach. Canadian puppeteer, Gordon Robertson (Zoboomafoo) also played Fingers, the large purple raccoon.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Not just Shari providing the voices for Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse, but in-universe, Lamb Chop discovers she has a talent of perfectly immitating other people, including Charlie Horse, and uses this talent to put on a one-sheep show of Little Red Riding Hood, in which she plays all of the characters, using different voices for each (specifically using Charlie Horse's voice for the Big Bad Wolf).
- Cultured Badass: Cookie, even though he's hardly a badass, though he is rather cultured, and has a deep appreciation for classical music, opera, and the performing arts in general.
- Dumpster Dive: Not just diving, but Fingers actually lives in the dumpster behind the Music Pizza, and lives off the discarded food thrown into it.
- Educational Song: Half of the songs in each episode would cover whatever the lesson of the story was. For example, in one episode, Shari teaches Lamb Chop how to play Chopin's Prelude in E Major, making up lyrics to the melody about using repeats to help you remember a song's rhythm.
- Edutainment Show
- End On Title: The closing sequence begins with a shot of the words "Charlie Horse Music Pizza" written out in sand on the beach. It's video footage, run backwards so it looks like the words were washed onto the sand by a wave.
- Gratuitous Italian: Cookie, and not just because of Dom DeLuise, but Cookie's father actually came to America from Italy.
- Halloween Episode: "Spooky Opera Show", in which a recent series of hauntings at the Music Pizza inspire Shari to put on an opera based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
- Limited Wardrobe: Shari and Lamb Chop are the only ones who subvert this. Justified with Takeout and Cookie, whose respective signature outfits are essentially their work clothes.
- Local Hangout: The Music Pizza, naturally, is this for Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and Charlie Horse.
- Mysterious Past: The former owner of the restaurant (he sold pies) returns out of the clear blue, and even says that he and Junior go way back, though Junior clearly holds contempt for the man, though he never says or explains why. It is implied, however, that Junior worked for him before Shari bought the restaurant and turned it into the Music Pizza.
- Nice Hat: Junior's backwards red ball cap, Cookie's bright yellow chef's hat, and Lamb Chop's little collection of various different beach and summer hats.
- People in Rubber Suits: Takeout is a full-bodied costume character, but also doubles as Serkis Folk.
- Saving the Music Pizza: In "Whistle While You Work", the gang learns that Shari plans on selling the Music Pizza to the owner of a chain of t-shirt shops, and that it's mainly because she feels her kids are too young to accept the responsiblities to help her run the restaurant.
- Short Runner: Ran for only 23 episodes, with the second season only lasting 3 episodes.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Played with with the above mentioned cool grandfather, as Charlie Horse has difficulty practicing his harmonica, but then receives an extra little pep-lesson from the grandfather via thought bubble. The grandfather in the thought bubble even corrects him whenever he makes a mistake.
- Team Mom: Shari is Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and Charlie Horse's mother (she even refers to them as her kids), though she also pretty much serves as the general mother figure of the show.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Given that this is a musical series, this trope is pretty much utilized (often multiple times) every episode.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: In "Charlie's Ants", Cookie's father is coming to visit, which intimidates him, because his father was always overbearing and tough on him (and it's even suggested that he was the Un Favorite to his brother, Sal). Cookie also mentions to Shari that his father always told him he was never ready to go out on his own and become a chef. During the visit, Cookie learns that the real reason his father kept discouraging him from going out on his own was because he actually was the favorite and he didn't want him to leave home.
- Why Did it Have to Be Ants?: Cookie goes berserk over bugs, especially ants. In fact, in "Charlie's Ants", the kitchen suddenly has an ant infestation (so bad that ants are crawling all over the sweet pie Cookie baked for his father's visit), and the blame falls on Charlie Horse, because of his new antfarm, though he insists they're not his ants in the kitchen.