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Juliet Prowse - Original Version
Dates: January 29-February 1, 1976
The first two episodes of The Muppet Show were taped before the others as pilots. These were later reworked with material shot much later in the season. But what would the very first episode of The Muppet Show have been like if the original version had aired? This entry of the Muppet Show Episode Guide will take a look at the original version of the debut episode starring Juliet Prowse.
Only about a third of what was originally shot made it into the final aired version. And as is the norm in television production, scenes are often shot several times with the best bits of each take edited together So several scenes that were in both the original version and the aired version have different edits. Since it would have been difficult and expensive to get Juliet Prowse back to retape new material, pretty much everything she did was kept (though again, sometimes different "takes" were used). References to scenes that Juliet was in like Gonzo's eating a tire, had to be maintained for continuity.
This entry of the episode guide will be a little more in-depth than usual since with the normal episodes, we trust that Muppet fans have either already seen them or will see them in the future. So we try to maintain a balance between giving lots of detail without giving away all the jokes and surprises. But since most fans probably will not see this episode, we've provided all the dialogue and information on the stuff that wasn't in the final version.
It would be great if this episode (and the original version of the second episode with Connie Stevens) could be included as extras in future releases of The Muppet Show season box sets. But since they were not included in the season one set, right now the only way we know of for fans to see this episode is by visiting the Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles or New York. (Fans living near one of these cities that wish to remain unspoiled may want to read this entry after they've seen the episode.)
As everyone knows, the first season version of The Muppet Show was very different than the opening themes in the rest of the show's run. But the very first version of the opening was even more different. It basically used the same music, melody and concept. Dancers are in front of the curtain and Kermit introduces segments of the show to have the curtain open to reveal Fozzie's opening joke and shots of that week's guest star.
But the original version was even longer with more verses! While it would make a great addition to a Muppet music CD (are you taking note, Disney?), it is rather long for an opening theme and would get a bit tiresome week after week to have a good two minutes taken up by essentially the same material which is probably why the theme was wisely shortened. Had this been the first Muppet Show to actually air, it may have been fun to include as a special introduction to the show. But shows were not taped in the order they would eventually air, and had this been broadcast in the middle of the season with the extended open, it would have seemed out of place.
The opening theme begins basically the same as the regular one. Kermit opens up the "O" in The Muppet Show logo to announce "It's The Muppet Show with tonight's guest star, Miss Juliet Prowse" (though this intro was later reshot) and then cuts to the logo rising in front of the stage with the orchestra pit in frame followed by the shots of Zoot with Crazy Harry and Rowlf at the piano.
The next shot is the female chorus singing the first verse in front of the curtain but not the same one that was later shot and used. The female chorus does still include Janice and Miss Piggy in brown wigs with two female whatnots. (The same chorus members reappear on the risers in the final verse. One whatnot is a bit different than its replacement in the reshot opening.)
Instead of cutting right away to the male chorus, there's another brief shot of Zoot and Crazy Harry in the orchestra pit. Interestingly in an odd edit, the first frame of this shot can be seen in some masters of the third episode's opening theme (with Joel Gray) between the shots of Rowlf and the female chorus.
Like the previous verse, the male chorus was later reshot but the members of it are a bit different. Boppity is still there but the other Snake Frackle is there instead of Gloat. There is a male pig, but this one has a big orange wig and rock-star like sunglasses and the fourth member is a purple half-man, half-creature whatnot that looks even more bizarre than the somewhat monstery looking whatnot that was later used. They do a conga line as they sing:
(Unlike the female chorus, only Boppity and Snake Frackle reappear in the closing verse; the other two do not.)
This is followed by an animal chorus in front of the curtain made up of alternating frogs and chickens that croak and cluck to the melody as the camera pans down the line. The chorus line ends with T.R. Rooster (Frank Oz) who announces, "Now here's our leader, Kermit the Frog!"
Kermit comes out from behind the red curtain and sings "The show tonight will feature a lovely song or two..." as the curtain opens to reveal Wayne and Wanda as they sing "You made me say I love you" and the curtain rapidly closes back while the duo seems as if they're building to a climax.
Kermit comes back in front of the curtain and sings "We also have some dancing if that's what pleases you". The female chorus makes an encore appearance in front of the curtain doing a kickline.
Once again Kermit comes back and sings, "And Fozzie Bear will tell you some jokes you never knew." Once again the curtain opens to reveal Fozzie (BUT WITHOUT ANY EYEBROWS!) in front of his set piece who exclaims:
Curtains close again and Kermit comes back out to sing, "To introduce our guest star, that's what it's time to do. So it really makes me happy to introduce to you... Miss Juliet Prowse!"
But instead of the curtains opening to reveal a shot of the guest, Juliet walks out on stage in front of the curtain and sings, "It's very nice to be here/I'm pleased to say hello."
Then finally the curtain opens to the shot used in the final version of the cast on rising wedding-cake like risers singing the final verse with the same gag that eventually aired with the mallet exploding upon impact leaving a blackened Gonzo.
[With all these extra verses, the one verse that does NOT appear is the extra verse Kermit sings in the episode three opening. "Our show tonight will feature some stuff that looks like this..." Most likely the creative team felt the original open was too long and planned to condense all the stuff about dancers and songs into this new verse, but this idea was scrapped and left intact for just that one episode.]
[It was also probably a wise decision to replace the guest star singing with shots of the guest instead. Not only does it condense time a little more, but also is less embarrassing to guests that may not be singers. It also adds a bit more variety since the singing concept would have the guests pretty much doing the exact same thing week after week whereas with the brief shots, they can show the guest mugging it up in different ways with different Muppets. Rita Moreno can fend off an attacking Animal and Avery Schreiber can wildly shake his hair to the fawning admiration of weird aliens, for example. Still the singing version had an advantage in that it completed the rhyme scheme ("hello" with "Muppet Show") and it flowed better melodically. Without this lead-in, the final lyrics end on a chord that sounds odd without the part that was cut out since it resolves that particular melody line.]
[The aired version shows a shot of Juliet Prowse with the Gazelles getting a little too friendly. This may have been shot either for promo purposes or they may have already been thinking of possibly using a cutaway shot instead and wanted to see how both would work in the final edit.]
[In the final shot of the cast on the risers, Gonzo, Fozzie, Wayne and Wanda, and Kermit are there as well as all the female chorus plus Boppity and Snake Frackle. They're joined in this shot by four whatnot males who don't appear anywhere else in the opening theme in either this or the final version of the theme.]
FOZZIE'S COMEDY SPOT
(Fozzie now has his eyebrows where they will remain for the rest of the episode.)
[Cut to Statler & Waldorf in the balcony]
[Profile shot of Fozzie being met with massive jeers as Kermit is seen looking out onto the stage from the wings shaking his head,]
Kermit makes his way backstage and notices a female whatnot chorus lady. Wayne can be seen on the upper level going into his dressing room.
[When Kermit brings on Gonzo, the camera cuts to a side shot of Kermit with Gonzo coming out from the wings from stage left. It's very rare throughout the show's run that a glimpse is seen of the stage left wings...though a similar shot is later used in episode 11 when Kermit introduces Gonzo.]
[Gonzo's voice is different during this part. It sounds as if the voice is being done by Jim Henson even though Jim would be performing Kermit in the same shot. Since Dave Goelz would voice Gonzo when he later appears backstage, it's possible that there either was an audio problem meaning the line would have to be looped and Jim did it or Gonzo may have been originally intended to be a Jim character. Though if this was the case, it would have been a short lived decision since as mentioned, Dave does voice Gonzo later.]
AT THE DANCE
["At The Dance" is exactly the same as the aired version though it cuts off before Mildred yells at Flower Eating Monster.]
Animal does a quick drum solo wildly hitting his drums. He is hit back by a boxing gloved fist coming out of one of the drums (in a similar manner to that of the "punch bowl" in episode 12.)
MUSICAL NUMBER - "MAHNA MAHNA"
["Mahna Mahna" appears here exactly as it aired in the final version.]
scene with Juliet coming out of her dressing room and talking with Kermit.
The scene is the same although it's from a different take. Even though
some of the delivery of the lines are different, the lines themselves
are all the same except Juliet says "No, none at all" instead
of "None whatsoever." The other notable difference is after
Juliet delivers her final line, Mahna Mahna pops up behind her and gives
Kermit's intro and Juliet's Prowse's "Solace Dance" are both the same as the aired version.
UK SKIT: MUSICAL NUMBER - "YOU AND I AND GEORGE"
[The same as eventually aired though the last shot of Rowlf performing the song is from a different take. The performance and delivery is very much the same except at the very end Rowlf's hands play over each other and he gives more of a flourish.]
[The talk spot is essentially the same but most of it is from a different take. Kermit and Juliet both deliver their lines differently (Juliet hams it up a bit more), but the lines themselves are basically the same except for a few insignificant "reaction" lines. Statler and Waldorf's "More more!"/"Less less!" is the same.]
A sign fills the screen reading "The Muppet Players Present - Cowboy Time" as Kermit provides voiceover: "The Muppet Players proudly present "Cowboy Time!" Camera pulls back to reveal sign is a small card Kermit has on a stand in front of the curtain.
This is the same as what aired except after Fozzie announces "This is a stickdown!", the following exchange occurs:
In the aired version, the bartender's last line is looped with "You're confused kid, you ain't got no guns...those are pickles" (The lip sync is noticeably off) and the rest of the sketch plays out. The only other difference is in the shot where the apple explodes, the Muppets can be seen shaking in panic for a couple beats before the explosion. The following balcony scene is the same.
The Juliet and Zoot blackout gag is the same as what aired except the sound effect when the stole takes its leave is a more "alien" type noise.
CLOSING NUMBER - "TEMPTATION"
The original version and the broadcast version are the same, both with Frank Oz doing Piggy's spoken lines and Richard Hunt doing the singing. The only difference is that the original version omits the following lines: