Cigarettes, Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women
June 9, 2007 2:45 PM   Subscribe

I got a fever, and the only prescription... is more Animal!
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on June 9, 2007

posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:34 PM on June 9, 2007

That was exquisitely strange.

Some of my very earliest memories are of watching the Muppets. I remember Peter Ustinov, Lena Horne, and Linda Ronstadt, but not this. Hooray for YouTube.

And hooray for two-link YouTube posts.
posted by ibmcginty at 3:35 PM on June 9, 2007

There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed


Consider this, the Muppet show was ostensibly a kids program.

Can you imagine anything this surreal airing for children today? Tuned chickens? Not a chance. (unless they were trying to sell tuned chicken happy-meals that is...) I mean, my god, it's a song about drinking, smoking and wild women! Why the hell don't kids today get to experience this?

Personally I believe that much of what makes us good and interesting today, came from watching shows like the Muppets.

And of course, from absolute-fucking-geniuses like Peter Sellers. I worship that crazy bastard.
posted by quin at 3:36 PM on June 9, 2007

That's fantastic. I feel a cover coming on.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:58 PM on June 9, 2007

Now I know why my parents insisted upon watching this every week. Thanks for the link, homunculus.
My husband just reminded me of the Roger Moore "If I could talk to the animals" number, sung in full James Bond mode while fending off muppets all trying to kill him. Alas, I couldn't find a clip on YouTube.
[Heads off to add the DVDs to the Netflix queue.]

On preview: chuckdarwin, please make sure it's not this cover.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:00 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was in high school in the heyday of The Muppet Show; it was one of the best things about TV in the 70s. One of my fave performances was a (by then) rare TV appearance by Harry Belafonte, here performing "Turn the World Around."
posted by pax digita at 4:01 PM on June 9, 2007

"...the Muppet show was ostensibly a kids program..."

Not quite.

It was an attempt (and at the time a rocky one) by Henson to prove that you could have safe family entertainment on prime time which would work on multiple levels for both parents and their children. He was trying to graduate his muppets out of the children's show niche. Just like most talent, his muppets had been typecast.

Henson and his associates also did performances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Saturday Night Live, and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, where he was decidedly not catering to children, but still, the end result was mature without going blue.

People still think of puppets as kiddie toys. Henson proved that presumption wrong countless times.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:04 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

As for Peter Sellers, there are not enough appropriate adjectives in the english language to correctly justify describing his genius.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:05 PM on June 9, 2007

I guess your right ZM, maybe it's just because I was a kid when I was watching it.

Still, I stand by my point about it being surreal. You just don't get that in mainstream TV much anymore. Shame about that too, weird ages well.
posted by quin at 4:12 PM on June 9, 2007

One of the things that made the Muppets truly great (although I didn't realize it as a kid) was the sheer incongruity of some of the bits. For example.

Now if I could only find the one with the surprise guest star (who I think was actually a writer for the show) performing "Hawaiian Cowboy" from inside a wardrobe with a bunch of penguins in hula skirts as the chorus.

Actually, anything with penguins on the Muppet Show was usually awesome.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:13 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Hawaiian Cowboy" writer chappie would be Christopher Langham, if that helps you search.
posted by ormondsacker at 4:23 PM on June 9, 2007

Those were great. I never thought of the Muppet Show as being for children. What a great song. The tuned chickens were pretty bonkers, kind of Pythonesque. It's a pity it had that annoying laugh track, which was what always annoyed me about Monty Python too.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:24 PM on June 9, 2007

According to Brian Henson's commentary on this episode from the Time-Life release, the 'there used to be a me' bit grew out of early discussions between the Muppet Show writers and Sellers. They were looking for gag ideas for "The Wall" segment, where Kermit just talks to the guest star, and Sellers flatly refused to consider being 'himself' on camera. The writers naturally ran with that idea.

There are many great episodes of the Muppet Show, but Peter Sellers is one of the very best.
posted by ulotrichous at 4:31 PM on June 9, 2007

..."because Pryor 'blew himself up freebasing'".
Now that's a kid's show.
posted by ormondsacker at 4:38 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I thought John Barleycorn must die.
posted by vronsky at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2007

For me, the single strangest and most memorable moment in that entire series was when Alec Guinness was on it. In the wrap scene, he was out of character, being just himself.

And it was stunning; he was a blank slate. It really was almost as if his own person had been surgically removed.

I've heard that Alec Guinness was able to walk down a busy street and no one would notice him -- because no one would recognize him. I believe that, having seen him in that one scene.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:41 PM on June 9, 2007

TheWhiteSkull, you need to try descriptive links..
posted by Chuckles at 4:57 PM on June 9, 2007

I love this clip. I went through a Peter Sellers phase just recently and bought this disk. I wish my kid were more into it so I could watch it all the time.
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:33 PM on June 9, 2007

The tbs site has a lot of "Puppet Up!" clips that they claim aren't censored, if you're into muppets and some adult humour!

(Warning, their version of uncensored is, in fact, censored.)
posted by Salmonberry at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2007

Great stuff.
posted by Skygazer at 7:13 PM on June 9, 2007

ZachMind: As for Peter Sellers, there are not enough appropriate adjectives in the english language to correctly justify describing his genius.

These words work pretty well:
posted by Skygazer at 7:27 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

I can make a dress out of a food sack. I'm a Woman.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:38 PM on June 9, 2007

I'm not sure if I'll ever get a better chance to point people in the direction of my friend-acted, no-budget, iMovie-edited, eight minute film of the exact same name, shot in a day for an undergraduate non-major directing class.

The title was, in fact, inspired by this very clip.
posted by StopMakingSense at 7:58 PM on June 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


/Buck Owens version.
posted by sourwookie at 8:38 PM on June 9, 2007

I love this clip. I saw it once as a kid, and remembered it ever since. Thirty years later, it's still fantastic.
posted by malaprohibita at 8:42 PM on June 9, 2007

Mala p you took the words right out of my mouth.
posted by longsleeves at 8:47 PM on June 9, 2007

Jim Henson was a Genius. The Muppets' soul is with him in Valhalla.
posted by longsleeves at 8:50 PM on June 9, 2007

I remember very clearly being pretty scared and freaked out by "The Windmills of My Mind" when they did it on The Muppet Show.
posted by jiawen at 12:48 AM on June 10, 2007

This one?
posted by homunculus at 1:13 AM on June 10, 2007

Time In A Bottle
posted by homunculus at 1:33 AM on June 10, 2007

People still think of puppets as kiddie toys. Henson proved that presumption wrong countless times.

As has Peter Jackson.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:59 AM on June 10, 2007

School's out for summer, y'all.

God, I love the Muppets.

Although, the worst fear, the last fear, just when I think I'm past fear did terrify me when I was little.
posted by MsMolly at 7:59 AM on June 10, 2007

Haaaahahahahaaaa. Excellent Sunday morning primer. Anyone with a hangover needs to watch the first clip.
posted by Area Control at 8:16 AM on June 10, 2007

Man, thanks to homunculus for this post and to everyone else for all of the clips. Add me to the list of kids who grew up with the muppets. Also, add me to the list of people who were a little freaked by the Zero Mostel bit posted by MsMolly and Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" as a child, although watching Alice's performance now, it seems much more Milton Berle than Vincent Price.

And although it's not a direct Muppet Show clip, I love this video: Lightning Bolt + Muppets = Muppet Bolt! I didn't see this above, so if it's already here I apologize.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:06 AM on June 10, 2007

I've always wanted to see the Muppets sing "After Midnight" with Eric Clapton. They'd all lean down and go back up whilst singing the "oooh-whaa!" part, with Eric standing up straight the whole time. Or maybe I did see this?
posted by raysmj at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2007

posted by taosbat at 1:25 PM on June 10, 2007

Earlier someone said the soul of the Muppets went with Henson? I respectfully disagree with that.

It was "Henson & Associates" and since his passing they've still done a lot of respectable stuff. I actually enjoyed the Christmas Carol with Michael Caine and Gonzo. I think post-Henson, they're still plugging. Admittedly Kermit's had to take a bit of a back seat, but there's enough creativity there to keep things hopping. You just can't keep a good pig down.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2007

Ooh! And Treasure Island with TIM CURRY! That was great! Tho admittedly the best parts were Tim Curry and not necessarily the muppets but still... That rocked.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:03 PM on June 10, 2007


My boss regularly hounds folks to see if they've ever heard of this song being done by the Henson crew -- a friend of his told him about it years ago and he's been itching to find it ever since.

He'll be no doubt happy.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:08 PM on June 11, 2007

Don't show it to him unless he gives you a raise.
posted by homunculus at 11:14 PM on June 11, 2007

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