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Disney+ Presents Streaming Debut Of Original 'Muppet Show'

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Disney+ Presents Streaming Debut Of Original 'Muppet Show'

It's time to play the music! It's time to light the lights! For the first time since its original 1976 to 1981 broadcast run, the full five-season presentation of “The Muppet Show” is back Friday via the Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) streaming service Disney+.

What Happened: Jim Henson’s Emmy-winning weekly variety show was among the most popular television shows of its day, with broadcasts in 106 countries featuring some of the era’s most prominent entertainers, including Elton John, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Peter Sellers, Sylvester Stallone, Steve Martin, Debbie Harry and Mark Hamill with several of the “Star Wars” figures.

The show also introduced a new slate of Muppet characters that became pop culture fixtures, including Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear, and the success of the program opened the franchise to greater visibility in feature films and merchandising.

However, the full series was never rerun in syndication or presented in home entertainment release due to problems in clearing the rights to many of the songs featured in the program. Only the first three seasons were released on DVD, and those releases saw the omission of several music numbers.

Disney acquired the Muppets franchise in 2004 and created new film and television productions involving the characters. But none of these endeavors resonated with audiences in the manner that “The Muppet Show” had during its run.

Why It Matters: Baby boomers who grew up with the series will be in for a nostalgic treat, while younger viewers who know the Muppet characters, but never saw the original show, will open a pop culture time capsule that is equal parts invigorating (particularly the Harry Belafonte number “Turn the World Around” featuring Muppet versions of anthropomorphic African masks) and late '70s kitsch-baffling (why is Elke Sommer singing “Row, Row, Row” while dressed as Cleopatra?).

Disney+ is not editing the show, which includes some cultural stereotypes that were considered acceptable in the late '70s. As a result, the streaming service is prefixing some episodes with warnings of badly dated caricatures.

(Photo: Raquel Welch duets with Miss Piggy from an episode of "The Muppet Show." Photo courtesy IMDb.)

 

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