The Muppet Show is a television program featuring a cast of Muppets (diverse hand operated puppets, typically with huge eyes and large moving mouths) produced by Jim Henson and his team from 1976 to 1981. In the United States, it aired in syndication; in Britain it aired on ITV.
The television show depicted a vaudeville-style song-and-dance variety show, as well as the backstage antics involved in putting the show on. Most of the shows revolved around the timid and gentle Kermit the Frog (performed by Henson) trying to keep control of the varied, outrageous, kinetic Muppet characters, as well as keep the human guest stars happy and secure. The show was well known for outrageous, highly physical (slapstick), sometimes absurdist comedy, and particularly for using its puppet characters to create uniquely humorous parodies. Many major celebrities were eager to perform with the Muppets on television and in film. Each show featured a human guest star, as diverse as Twiggy, Julie Andrews, Steve Martin, and Alice Cooper.
Though they appear in various earlier forms (see Jim Henson), The Muppets gained widespread popularity on the landmark PBS series Sesame Street. The Muppet Show became the cornerstone of Jim Henson's enormously popular ongoing productions. The Muppet Show characters went on to star in The Muppet Movie, which was the first film to feature puppets interacting with humans in real-world locations. Later films included The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppets From Space. The show's popularity has been so expansive that Muppet characters have been treated as celebrities in their own right, including presenting at the Academy Awards, making a cameo in Rocky III, and being interviewed on the respected newsmagazine 60 Minutes.
Jim Henson's Muppets also went on to star in the (always short lived) television programs The Muppet Variety Hour, Muppets Tonight, and the acclaimed mythology-inspired series The Storyteller.
Other "Jim Henson's Muppets" creations featured in the films The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Sesame Street based Follow That Bird, as well as in a large variety of films, made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video children's releases, and television specials.
Muppet characters on The Muppet Show include
- Kermit the Frog, director and host
- Miss Piggy, a glamorous diva pig
- Fozzie Bear, a (questionably talented) stand-up comic bear
- Scooter, the gofer (not a real gopher, a backstage "go-for")
- Gonzo aka The Great Gonzo, Gonzo the Great, stuntman and daredevil
- The Swedish Chef, a Swedish Chef
- Rowlf the dog, piano player
- Dr Julius Strangepork
- Dr Bunsen Honeydew, scientist and inventor
- Beaker, his assistant
- Camilla, a chicken (Gonzo's love)
- Sam the (American) Eagle, American patriot
- Dr. Teeth, band leader and keyboard player (the name of the band is The Electric Mayhem)
- Zoot, saxophone player
- Janice, guitarist
- Animal, the drummer
- Sgt. Floyd Pepper, bass guitarist
- Lew Zealand, boomerang fish thrower, and obsessed with fish generally
- Statler & Waldorf, two old men who come to every show and heckle the performances
- Annie Sue, Miss Piggy's rival
- the Muppet newscaster
- Foo-Foo, Miss Piggy's dog
- Sweetums, 9-foot-tall monster
- Link Hogthrob, star of Pigs in Space
- Beauregard, the stage hand
- Crazy Harry, madman who likes explosives
Select episodes can be found on videotape and DVD.