On February 19, Disney Plus subscribers in the U.S. and European nations celebrated the long-awaited release of The Muppet Show. Since it premiered in fall 1976, the entire run of producer/puppeteer Jim Henson’s beloved variety-comedy show has never been widely available in any format.
Technically, The Muppet Show is still not available in its entirety — though it’s much more than many fans expected. These 118 released episodes (with some songs and segments cut) represent over 50 hours of Muppets, essentially 97 percent of the show. It’s particularly great to see Seasons 4 and 5, never released on DVD … along with most of the “UK spots,” additional 3-minute segments filmed because the UK had more broadcast time to fill.
Overall, most fans are thrilled. None of the episodes regarded as Top 10 are missing. Audio and video transfers look and sound better than recent DVD releases. By all appearances, Disney went to great lengths to secure music clearances for streaming release (as an example: the season one DVD release in 2005 featured cuts to songs and segments, which are restored here.)
Considering its global appeal, hopefully a roll-out to other Disney+ nations is in the works. If fans watch The Muppet Show and keep it trending on Disney Plus, it becomes more likely that further missing Muppets titles will be released.
Based on initial reports, with special thanks to Muppets fan Matthew Paul and Tough Pigs, the following episodes and segments are currently missing on Disney Plus.
Episodes Missing Worldwide
Season 5, Episode 6: Brooke Shields
The well-known American actress stars in this parody of Alice in Wonderland. For the finale, Gonzo and others sing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” from The Wizard of Oz. This iconic musical has famously been protective of song usage. “Disney chose to remove the episode entirely rather than release an edited version,” stated Tough Pigs, holding out the possibility of future release.
Season 5, Episode 19: Chris Langham
Near the end of The Muppet Show’s final season, guest star Richard Pryor had to cancel his planned appearance. British comedian Chris Langham filled in. In 2005, the writer-comedian was arrested on criminal charges. It is understandable that Disney/Henson would distance itself from his appearance.
Episodes Missing in U.S. Only
Season 1, Episode 23: Kaye Ballard
Comic actress and singer Kaye Ballard appeared in the first season. It is unknown why this episode has not released in the U.S. “Our contacts at Disney+ assured us that only two episodes will be left out… We’re hoping this is just a mistake and will be remedied.” stated Tough Pigs.
UPDATE: This episode has been added to Disney+ in the U.S. late on Feb. 19.
Episodes Missing in European Nations Only
Season 4, Episode 1: John Denver
Regarded widely as one of the show’s best episodes, this one is available in the U.S. but not in European nations—presumably due to music rights issues.
Season 3, Episode 17: Spike Milligan
This episode is available in the U.S. but not in European nations—presumably due to music rights issues.
Episode Segments Missing Worldwide
As reported via Reddit, which is being updated as other cuts are discovered.
Episode 1, Don Knotts: “Lullaby of Birdland” missing, and all scenes referencing it
Episode 12, Bernadette Peters: “They Call the Wind Maria” and “I’m Five” missing
Episode 16, Danny Kaye: UK Spot “Jogging” missing
Episode 21, Roger Miller: UK Spot “Down at the Old Bull and Bush” missing
Episode 24, Cheryl Ladd: UK Spot “There’s A New Sound” missing
Episode 15, Anne Murray: “Dancing on the Ceiling” missing
Episode 5, James Coburn: UK Spot “Bird Walk” missing
Episode 13, Tony Randall: “Ti-Pi-Tin” missing
Episode 17, Hal Linden: “If I Ruled the World” missing
Episode 18, Marty Feldman: “Sesame Street Theme” missing
Episode 20, Wally Boag: “The Ying Tong Song” missing
Episode 22, Buddy Rich: UK Spot “A Transport of Delight” missing
Thanks to Muppets fan Matthew Paul, Tough Pigs and Muppet Wiki for some source info.
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