While most were waiting for Disney+ to drop the latest ep of the "WandaVision" early this AM, there was a significant segment of D+ customers who were anticipating the drop of a legendary show that entertained adults and kids in equal measure back in the second half of the '70s.
The brainchild of genius puppeteer Jim Henson and staffed by his creative and brilliant team, "The Muppet Show" was something that American audiences hadn't seen before it debuted in September of 1976. TMS was wacky mix of hilarious, colorful puppets, vaudeville gags, wildly popular celebs of the day, comedy sketches, and top-notch musicians that was set inside the theater where the show takes place---a sort of surrealist early incarnation of "The Larry Sanders Show". It was an instant smash and almost instantly joined the pop culture lexicon.
Though ostensibly on the air for children (it aired Saturdays at 7PM), TMS offered plenty for grown-ups as well. Risqué jokes that flew over the tykes' heads got chuckles from their parents. Sketches that seemed more appropriate a few hours later (like the very first one featuring Rita Moreno and her gams). Movies stars and musicians clamored to land the coveted gig alongside Kermit, Animal, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and the rest of the unique creations from the mind of the singular Henson. "The Muppet Show" was "Sesame Street"'s much cooler older sibling who liked to stir it up.
Like many big stars did at the time, The Muppets graduated from TV to movies and hit the peak of their powers with the timeless 1979 classic THE MUPPET MOVIE. Featuring cameos from a slew of Hollywood titans, the dream chasin' road movie was a box office monster and spawned a hit soundtrack buoyed by "Rainbow Connection". (As a kid, I never realized that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were such obvious stoners.)
Two more feature films followed as did a few TV specials before we started to see less and less of them. On May 16, 1990, The Muppets, in the original iteration that endeared them to the world, would exist no more as Henson died at just 53 from a bacterial infection related to pneumonia. Though the troupe had a couple of successes after Henson's death, it was essentially mothballed for ages by Disney, who had acquired the IP.
The brand was reincarnated about a decade ago in order to introduce a new generation to Henson's creation and released THE MUPPETS. Despite the efforts, it just wasn't the same. It felt like going to the South Shore Music Circus to see a modern-day version of a doo-wop band whose last original member died years ago. Just because you slap the name on it doesn't make it so.
For years, the beloved "The Muppet Show" couldn't be seen anywhere unless you were lucky to have some old VHS copies. In the early aughts, edited DVD versions of Seasons 1-3 were released. But 4 and 5 hadn't been seen in ages and fans wondered if these episodes would ever see the light of day again.
Fast-forward to the streaming era and Disney+. Like many other shows and movies, fans were clamoring for "The Muppet Show" in its original glory. Earlier this year, their wishes were granted when it was announced that Seasons 1-5 would be available to stream starting today. Time to fire up the GOAT of theme songs.