Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Muppets Valentine Show

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. A day that couples everywhere buy gifts, go on dates, and express their love for each other.

This was an unusual "Lover's Holiday" for Paula and me this year in that we didn't spend much time together. I was home for a few hours in the afternoon but had to go to my bowling league at night. But we exchanged gifts on Saturday and went out for dinner with our son and daughter-in-law on Sunday night.

Also this year as mentions of Valentine's Day were everywhere I made a mental connection between February 14 and the Muppets while listening to the weekly Muppet podcast on my Ipod. That connection is the Muppets Valentine Show. A picture from it is at the top of this post.

This program originally aired on the ABC television in February 1974. I was 13 years old and fascinated with the Muppets. The Valentine Show was one of the few times I got to see the Muppets, other than on Sesame Street or occasional guest appearances on a prime time show. Their appearances on the first season of NBC's Saturday Night Live was still a year away.

It was a time in my life when I owned a portable cassette tape recorder. This was in the days long before VCR. I liked to use my hand mike to record the audio of my favorite shows directly from the TV speaker. I would then listen to the recordings while falling asleep at night. Eventually I memorized many of the shows word for word. I recorded the Muppets Valentine Show.

My dad watched the show with me and we both loved it. We listened to the tape together and would recite the bits and sing the songs together. The punchlines from the show were inside jokes between us for years.

The program was written and produced as a pilot episode for Jim Henson's proposed series: The Muppet Show. The US tv networks all passed on the series but eventually a network in England picked it up and syndicated in the USA. It has a successful run of 5 seasons.

The Muppet Valentines Show was included as a bonus feature on Season 2 of the Muppet Show DVD set. . It was a loosely produced and executed program with quite a few continuity errors and mistakes and included a lot of the Muppet characters.

Strangely enough most of the main characters in the Valentine Show were never or rarely seen again. They included: Wally, the show's script writer; Mildred, an old spinster character; Buster, an old timer with a white fuzzy beard; Droop, a strange looking monster puppet who looks like an early ancestor of Gonzo; Thog, a large blue 8 ft. tall creature; and my favorite, the living Krumpet (pictured above on the tray).

The Muppet characters you may be most familiar with who were included in the show were: Kermit the frog; Crazy Donald, renamed "Harry" for the Muppet Show; Rufus, fluffy white dog; and the male & female creatures from the planet Kuzebain.

At the end of the show there were cameo appearances by well known Muppets: Rolf the dog; Ernie and Burt from Sesame Street. A funny mistake that was left in the show is when guest star, Mia Farrow, called Ernie, "Burt".

Speaking of the show's guest star, Mia Farrow was very very pregnant at the time. It's funny to see the sequence of the show where Buster, the old man, calls Farrow "Miss" than sees her protruding maternity top and realizing her "condition" quickly changes his reference to "Mrs".
The moment is evidence of the fact of the show was made in a time where (at least on TV) a pregnant woman was always married.

Ms. Farrow sets the standard for guest star participation on future Muppet Shows. She sings and dances (although the choreography is very conservative given her condition) and really builds a rapport with the multitude of Muppets characters.

I hadn't watch the special in a couple of years but as I watched it on the night before Valentine's day it was like a reunion with an old friend. The special brings back strong memories and feelings of the way the show and our love for the Muppets brought my dad and me together.

As I watched I could almost feel the presence and love of my dad in the room with me. I realized how much I still love him and miss him very much. This reminded me that although Valentine's Day is a special day for romantic love the special bond between parent and child is just as strong as any other relationship in a person's life. No parent/child relationship is perfect but I can truly say that overall I had a loving positive relationship with both my mom and my dad. Watching the Muppets Valentine Show helped remind me of blessed I was to have them in my life.

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