The Muppet Present is streamed on Disney +
Since Disney + launched in November 2019, fans have been asking for more Muppet content on the platform. Singing enthusiasts in particular (especially on Twitter) have asked for it The Muppet Show to find the way to Disney’s direct-to-consumer platform. And finally, the outcry has been answered and every glorious episode of The Muppet Show will hit Disney + on February 19th. It’s time to put on makeup, it’s time to get dressed properly, etc.
The Muppet Show, which was independently produced and broadcast worldwide as part of the syndication (a novel concept at the time), ran from 1976 to 1981 for a total of 120 episodes. The series catapulted the creator Jim Henson and his band of happy Muppet regulars (including Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt and Dave Goelz) and their corresponding characters became international icons and paved the way for several Muppet feature films, countless television specials and series created by Henson such as The storyteller, Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Lesson. For many, The Muppet Show was the culmination of Henson’s powers, working with limited creative influence and creating something that both paid homage to previous television formats (talk shows, variety shows, faux documentaries) and was something entirely new. It has certainly captured the zeitgeist in a way that few of the subsequent projects have ever done, and anchored the Muppet characters all over the hearts and minds of children.
Image via Disney
Since Disney gained control of the Muppet characters in 2004, the company also retained the rights to the television show. (This deal was far tighter than Disney’s led by the former chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, wanted to achieve in 1989, in the months and weeks that led to Henson’s tragic death from bacterial pneumonia. This deal, which was ultimately bypassed due to rising tax costs and reluctance from Henson’s family, included characters from other projects, including labyrinth and The dark crystal.) Disney released three seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD in 2005, 2007 and 2008, and while Box Art was bullied for a season 4 DVD release at the D23 Expo in 2009, it never materialized. (Seasons 4 and 5 of the show, which debut on Disney +, are the first time they have home video releases.) The DVD releases were for the most part complete, although some music numbers were completely trimmed due to rights issues (uncut releases eventually came out overseas). There was also new ancillary material produced specifically for these releases (including a pop-up video-style trivia track that would run alongside the episodes). It is unclear whether the Disney + versions contain these supplementary materials and whether they are in fact the full episodes as originally presented.
However you slice it, having this plethora of classic Muppet material on Disney + is a very good thing – and the episodes are coming so soon. If you’ve never seen the series or are a die-hard fan, having the episodes on hand is really exciting and a gift for any Disney + subscriber. 2021 could use that kind of weirdness.
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About the author
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Drew Taylor is the Associate Editor for Collider. He has contributed to Vulture, Vanity Fair, New York Daily News, the Playlist, Moviefone, MTV and SYFY in the past. He is also the author of “The Art of Onward” (Chronicle Books, 2020).
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