Monday, 8 November 2010

The Muppetational Jim Henson and... The Muppet Show

I grew up in an era when there was no internet; when there were no mobile phones (and when those did arrive, they were mobile, but hardly pocket-sized); and, most importantly for this post, when there were only two channels available on television here in Sweden. Neither of which two channels were broadcasting around the clock like the multitude of channels we have nowadays do. Nope, starting late afternoons/early evenings and then keeping at it till perhaps around midnight (not that the end time was of great importance to me back then, of course), that was all the television available to us. Add to this, the simple fact that there were no DVDs (not an all-round availability of VCRs either for that matter) and you might imagine (if you were not there too) that what was on the tube was something to be watched, in most cases.

Case in point, I watched The Muppet Show as a kid. And I do think I liked it. Kind of. I'm sure some of the funny antics with the puppets were amusing to my younger self, but I'm equally certain that a lot of stuff sailed by way over my head. In fact, while some things have stayed with me (as pop cultural references are wont to do), in some other sense I left the Muppets behind me a long time ago. Until fairly recently, that is.

YouTube has over the last few years reintroduced me to the crazy world of the Muppets. For instance, there is this absolutely outstanding Muppets' version of "Bohemian Rhapsody", which cannot but melt the heart of an old Queen fan like yours truly.

Now, don't get me wrong. It is not like I've shunned the brilliance of master puppeteer (or is it perchance puppet maestro) Jim Henson or his oeuvre. I am a big fan of both his TV show The Storyteller (and its follow-up with retellings of Greek Myths) and films like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I just haven't spent many thoughts on The Muppet Show since back in the day.

Well, don't let it be said that it is ever too late to repent for one's proverbial sins of neglect. Having had the Queen extravaganza in my head for quite some time (as well as snippets with the Swedish Chef and the "Mahna Mahna" song – the latter of which can be viewed below), I started considering actually buying at the very least the first series of The Muppet Show. Most of all, what probably drove me to this was a growing suspicion that I had been missing out on something; that my memory simply wasn't good enough or too tainted by a child's p.o.v.

Yesterday, I finally acted on this suspicion and added the first series box set to my collection. Thus far I have only had the chance to watch the first two episodes, but it is funny to note that, yes, I did miss a whole lot of stuff way back when, because a whole lot of it wasn't aimed at children. Looking at it now, there is also the aspect of the show as an historical document, allowing us a glimpse into 1976. However, most of all, I cannot help but laud the late Jim Henson for his genius in setting up a rather typical kind of television show of that era in the most atypical way possible.

I am fairly sure I will be returning to this topic again, but in the meantime, there is only one thing I would like to say... Mahna mahna!

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