That One Sketch

In every television show, no matter how great, there are a few episodes that do not quite hold up to the quality of other episodes.  This article will not be discussing that at all.  It will, however, discuss the specific sketches on The Muppet Show that do not really fit in with the rest of the show, and leave viewers wondering why the Muppet writers bothered to keep it in the episode.  There are a few basic categories for these sketches: the random UK spots, the scenes with terrible special effects, and the times when something is too weird for even The Muppet Show.

The UK Spots were the short sketches that the United States did not get to see, but the UK did because they had fewer commercials over there.  Because these sketches were not being broadcast to as many of the big markets, one would think that these would always be low quality, but generally they were really nice, memorable moments.  However, sometimes they were just musical pieces, often instrumental, which had essentially no jokes, such as “Theme from Love Story,”  “Für Elise,” and “Minuet in G Major.”  In an effort to spend as little money as possible, the Muppets often performed British pub songs for the UK spot, which were sometimes really fun.  Other times though, with songs such as “My Old Dutch,” “The Boy in the Gallery,” “Down at the Old Bull and Bush,” and definitely “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat,” the sketches may not have been bad, but the humor was certainly lacking.

The Muppet Show was not a special effects show, and that is not where the money was spent.  For this reason, any time the Muppets tried to pull of an effect that relied on matting, animation or anything beyond a fog machine, the finished product looked rather silly.  While the Brooke Shields episode is one of the greatest, it sadly is one that most clearly reveals this problem.  Take a look at the scene in which Brooke has grown too big for the set and has to be shrunk down to size.  Kermit and Bunsen are badly matted in, but Brooke clearly looks the worst.  Other examples of this type of problem would be “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” in which the Muppets proportions look very strange, “Talk to the Animals,” which has a ridiculous laser beam effect, and “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” which features one of the strangest effects the Muppets ever tried to create.

While on the subject of strange Muppety things, the Muppets do a lot of strange Muppety things.  Sometimes the Muppets may have gotten so strange that audience members are as confused as possible by the bizarre sketches the Muppet gang were (somehow) able to come up with.  Take “The Ying Tong Song.”  No really, take it – it needs to go away.  A crazier example would be “Jump Shout Boogie,” which takes a song that is not too far out there, and turns it into one of the most odd Muppet sketches ever.  “Hugga Wugga” is a whole new level of weird, and “I Feel Pretty” is extremely creepy.  The Toothache Sketch might just be the perfect example of the kind of sketch I mean because it was in the Alice Cooper episode and was still too weird to fit in with the rest of the show.

This is not to say that all of these sketches are the worst of The Muppet Show.  In many cases, they are really fun for a lot of people, but sometimes they can be too slow, too strange, or too poorly done to be attractive to many fans.  For me, most of these were not really the sketch that ruined the episode, because The Muppet Show was so good, not one episode could be completely ruined (aside from the Connie Stevens episode).  The sketch that most hurt an episode of the show would be a sketch that fits in with at least two of these categories – “Three Little Fishies.”  This UK Spot is way too cute for The Muppet Show, and would be more appropriate for Sesame Street.  To make matters worse, it is overly weird because it is so out of place, and it slows down the episode without adding any humor.  This is why, for me personally, “Three Little Fishies” is that one sketch that I strongly wish had been cut from the episode.

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