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Muppets fans should be satisfied with the The Muppet Show’s Season 3 DVD set. As with the DVDs for the first two seasons, the bonus features are a little sparse, given the wealth of material featuring the famous puppets. But these extras are more substantial than those on the second season set and are a must-see for longtime Muppets fans. As for the show, it’s still fresh and funny 30 years later.

Still Crazy after All These Years

In its first season, The Muppet Show had great potential, though it hadn’t quite gelled. Characters were still being established. There was a sense that the producers and puppeteers were experimenting with various ideas to see what worked. By the second season, the show found a groove. Some segments that probably would have fit better on Sesame Street were gone. The human guest stars were better integrated into the action. The Muppet Show felt more like a real variety show and less like a collection of segments.

The third season is much like the second season, with the wackiness dialed up a notch. In one episode, an epidemic turns most of the cast into chickens; a chicken orchestra plays the end music. The Gilda Radner episode is a classic. It begins with her singing a duet of Gilbert and Sullivan songs with a seven-foot-tall carrot (Kermit misunderstood her request for a parrot!), and ends with a superglue mishap. Cheryl Ladd does some song and dance routines that remind us that she’s more than a Charlie’s Angel. She and Miss Piggy have a great, karate-chopping number, with Kermit as the hapless victim.

In the first season DVD set, some songs were cut, due to copyright issues. According to muppetcentral.com, all episodes on this DVD set are complete.

DVD Extras

Just about everything you ever wanted to know about puppets and puppetry is covered in “The Muppets on Puppets,” which was taped for a public television station in 1967. It’s an entertaining and informative hour-long show hosted by Jim Henson with assistance from puppeteers Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl and puppet maker Don Sahlin. They demonstrate different kinds of puppets and introduce various Muppets; viewers will recognize Rowlf and an early version of Kermit. They take the camera behind the stage to show the puppeteers at work. Sahlin shows how he makes Muppets, and then shows viewers how to make simple puppets at home. It ends with a puppet show that highlights their wacky sense of humor.

“The Making of the Muppets,” is a recent documentary featurette that looks at the making of the show. It features interviews with puppeteers and some behind-the-scenes footage. The interviewees have fond memories, like that magic moment in the first season when Miss Piggy went from a pig in a blond wig to a diva. It’s clear that they had a great camaradie. At 10 minutes, this feature seems way too short, but it’s better than nothing. Also on the DVD are some humorous Purina commercials from the early 1960s starring Rowlf and Baskerville.

Picture and Sound

The picture and sound quality for the episodes is excellent. “The Muppets on Puppets,” which is black and white, has a few audio problems, which a disclaimer at the beginning acknowledges. The quality is probably as good as can be expected, given that it was transferred from a 40-year-old video tape. In any case, it’s a great addition to this DVD set.

How to Use This DVD

Watch the episodes at your leisure. When you get to disc four, set aside about 75 minutes to watch the extra features.