Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Muppet Show - John Denver (73)

Episode 73 - John Denver

One of the human guests I most associate with the Muppets is John Denver. This episode (the first of season four) always seems to be one of the first I catch when the show comes up in syndication, and I used to catch the two specials he did with the Muppets a few times even when the original show wasn't on anywhere locally. He works nicely with the Muppets, very much interacting with the characters. And he kind of looks like a Muppet...

(I didn't used to be a big fan of Denver outside of his Muppet related stuff, but a few years ago I picked up an album of him doing acoustic versions of many of his songs, and I liked it a lot more than the standard radio versions of most of those songs, thanks to the absence of the country twang that infects those)

Anyway, it's a great episode, with a lot of highlights. On the top of the list is the "Happy Wanderers" number (listed on that episode summary linked to above as "Falderee, Falderah" for some reason). That one makes my list of top ten Muppet Show skits easily, and probably one of the few featuring pigs to make the list (I'm not a big fan of the pigs, overall). In particular I love the inflections of the final pig as he goes from nervous to triumphant.

Second best of the show is Denver's first number, "Magic Garden" (or as I originally learned it, "Inch by Inch"). One of my favourite kids songs growing up, and Denver does a great job singing it here with a bunch of Muppet produce.

I also like the rather odd version of "Why Can't We Be Friends" (with very different lyrics). A good use of the old Muppet stand-by of blowing things up. Denver's version of "Grandma's Feather Bed" with full background and visual accompaniment by the Muppets, is also great fun, although I prefer the version Kermit sings on an old Muppets audio tape I have.

It's a pretty rare episode where there are four musical numbers and I rate them all so highly. I also liked the backstage plot, of Kermit planning a trip back to the swamp and the various complications that ensue. You know it's a good when the Swedish Chef is by far the weakest part of the show.

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