40 Favorite Muppet Show Sketches and Songs, Part 1

Michael Wermuth, Jr. – This is the first in a four part series presenting my list of my opinions of the top 40 greatest segments from The Muppet Show. And it wasn’t easy, since the show has so many great segments. I’ve had this idea for the last few months, and I have gone back-and-forth over which ones make the cut. Even when I started this list, before sending it to be submitted, I did some re-thinking, taking some great clips out and putting better clips in. So if you’re favorite segments are not included, chances are that I considered including it at one point.

Keep in mind that this list does not include backstage plots. The majority of this list reflects the onstage entertainment from the show, with the only backstage scenes included being musical numbers. Also, this listing is in chronological order, going by the show’s production order. 

31.   “I Got Rhythm” Episode 420: Alan Arkin
In this classic musical number flub, Fozzie Bear attempts to perform the Gershwin classic “I Got Rhythm” with Rowlf the Dog at piano. Of course, all that Fozzie ends up doing is proving that he doesn’t got rhythm, much to the delight of Statler and Waldorf. This is a great piece because it not only showcases the wonderful relationship between Fozzie and Rowlf, but also Fozzie’s trademark ineptitude. Who could ask for anything more?

32.   “Six String Orchestra” Episode 417: Star Wars
One of Scooter’s best moments on the show was this fun tune where he dreams of becoming a big musical star with his guitar. He imagines performing with a whole slew of instruments, including lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and horns. As he sings the lines, ghost-like images of Floyd Pepper, Janice, Animal, and Zoot appear. This was a huge technological feat for 1980, making this song all the more special. We also get to see Scooter’s room for the first and only time.

33.   “Feelings” Episode 424: Diana Ross
One of the most classic and casual-fan-favorite moments of the entire run of The Muppet Show is this goofy, throw away number where Beaker attempts to croon his way through “Feelings.” The audience, of course, revolts at the repeating chorus of “Mee-mee.” It takes Animal’s ferocious threats to make the audience calm down and listen to Beaker butcher the remainder of the song… in hilarious fashion, of course.
34.   “Last Time I Saw Him” Episode 424: Diana Ross
This Diana Ross favorite was one of musical highlights of the episode she guest starred in. She performed the song with Dr. Teeth, Floyd, Janice, Animal, Rowlf, and a slew of Muppet musicians. It starts off backstage, but Kermit convinces Diana and the band to move it onstage. This song is notable because it marks one of the few occasions when Dr. Teeth traded his keyboard in for tambourine. But it’s Diana’s dynamite vocals that make this song truly one of the best.

35.   “Barnyard Boogie” Episode 504: Shirley Bassey
One of my favorite Electric Mayhem songs is from the final season of The Muppet Show. “Barnyard Boogie” features the entire band, including Lips, as they jam through this hoppin’, boppin’, swingin’ set joined by chickens, cows, sheep, and more barnyard animals. The most notable thing about this song is that it features extremely rare vocals from Lips, who sings an entire line of the song by himself. But besides that, this is a near-perfect showcase of what makes the Electric Mayhem so fantastic.

36.   “Jabberwocky” Episode 506: Brooke Shields
“Have you SEEN the scene? Even when you know what it is, you don’t know what it is!” Scooter bemoans to Kermit as this sketch reading of Lewis Carrol’s popular poem begins. Rowlf and Scooter play the leads as a ton of strange Muppet creatures fill the background. The Jabberwock puppet is incredible detailed and cool looking as Scooter fights it. Even with its head chopped off, the head remains moving in even more ahead-of-its time technology.

37.   “Another Opening, Another Show” Episode 514: Mac Davis
This musical number features a slew of great, secondary Muppet Show characters–one for each performer. Link Hogthrob for Jim Henson, Fozzie Bear for Frank Oz, Scooter for Richard Hunt, Gonzo for Dave Goelz, Lew Zealand for Jerry Nelson, and Rizzo the Rat for Steve Whitmire. The song itself is hysterical as Beauregard and Beaker run amuck in the background. Just another opening at The Muppet Show.

38.   “Whenever I Call You Friend” Episode 512: Melissa Manchester
One of my all time favorite Muppet Show numbers is this beautiful rendition of “Whenever I Call You Friend,” sung as a duet between guest star Melissa Manchester and Floyd Pepper and growing into a full chorus of Muppets singing back up. Lips gets an awesome trumpet solo, Melissa’s voice is serene, and Floyd has never sounded better. This song is wonderful and perfectly done. The harmonies between Melissa and Floyd are enough to sell this… but all of the other elements come together to make it one of the best.

39.   “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” Episode 523: Linda Ronstadt
I can’t get enough of this song. Yet another perfect Muppet/guest star duet as the adorable Linda Ronstadt takes the stage with Kermit to perform this wonder. Linda’s voice is smooth and powerful and Kermit’s is strong and comforting. This is truly one of the most romantic, magical moments on The Muppet Show, not only for the vocals, but for the set up. Rowlf on the piano, a massive pack of Muppets behind, Kermit in a white tuxedo, Linda singing straight to him… it’s perfect. I hope I never grow too old to enjoy this.

40.   “In the Navy” Episode 524: Roger Moore
We jump from the sacred to the silly (as the Muppet so often do) with this number. An all-pig, all-viking rendition of “In the Navy.” The pigs sing of the joys of naval life while plundering and pillaging a town. The amount of crazy puppet moves and set ups here is amazing… but the hilarious actions of the Muppet pigs are what make this. Link Hogthrob and his viking-pig cohorts sing and cavort and otherwise carry on in hysterical fashion–even the ship sings! It doesn’t get more Muppety than this.

Check back next week for even more favorite Muppet Show sketches!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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