Premiering in 1976, The Muppet Show ran for five seasons and a total of 120 half-hour episodes on British and American television. The show was created by Muppets creator Jim Henson as a way to expand what he had been doing with puppetry since the start of his career some twenty years earlier and had started to explore with his work on the PBS children’s educational series Sesame Street. Each episode, a human guest star would join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear and the rest of the Muppets for the weekly variety show that was often plagued by comical backstage chaos. Guest stars ranged Bob Hope to Alice Cooper.
It should be noted that previous home video releases of The Muppet Show occasionally were forced to omit some songs due to music rights issues. It is not known if Disney has ironed these issues out or if the cuts will remain intact when the series begins streaming next month.
It is great to see Disney finally getting more of their Muppet content out there. Fans like myself were a little concerned when there was no mention of the characters at all during the company’s Investors Day call last month.
Still, I continue to contend that the Muppets are as recognizable a brand as Marvel. Pixar or National Geographic are and that they deserve their own separate channel on Disney+.
Currently, Disney+ offers for streaming six of the eight Muppet films – The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets From Space are owned by their initial distributor, Sony Pictures – the short-lived 2018 series The Muppets, the six-episode run of the newer Muppets Now series, 41-episodes of the recent CG animated Muppet Babies revival and a few short form programming titles that run only a minute or two in length per episode. Add in the non-Muppets Jim Henson Company production Earth To Ned and now the 120 half-hour episodes of The Muppet Show and you already have a sizeable presence that really demands its own destination hub on the streamer.
(And that’s before you add in the 22 half-hour episodes of 1996’s Muppets Tonight, the twelve hour-long episodes of The Jim Henson Hour, the thirteen half-hour episodes of The Storyteller, and the 107 half-hour episodes of the original animated Muppet Babies series that Disney holds the rights to but has not yet made available on Disney+.)
Hopefully, as the streamer continues to add more Muppet content we will finally see Henson’s loveable characters get the dedicated channel on Disney+ that they deserve.