Clockwise from top left: Alice Cooper with the “School’s Out” monsters, Rita Moreno with Animal, and Diana Ross with Fozzie Bear The Muppets were made for TV. It just took TV 20 or so years to get ready for The Muppets. They’d been local favorites , staples of the talk- and variety-show circuits, and some of the earliest stars of American public television . But until Jim Henson convinced British producer Lew Grade—who’d previously made a transatlantic smash out of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Supermarionation series—to take a flier on his furry, funny, and frantic creations, the Muppets had never had a show to call their own. When the curtain went up on The Muppet Show in the fall of 1976, it represented a new pinnacle for the unique blend of state-of-the-art puppetry, practical special effects, anarchic humor, song-and-dance numbers, and underlying sincerity that Henson had forged across countless projects alongside indispensable collaborators like Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, and Don Sahlin. The amount of time that passed between the beginning of Henson’s original, Washington, D.C.-area series, Sam And Friends , and The Muppet Show ’s premiere is roughly equal to how long it’s been since The Muppet Show could be regularly seen on TV. Multiple Muppet shows and Muppet movies have been made during this period, and individual segments have been circulated, remixed, and meme’d online , but the series that made it all possible has largely been unavailable. That’s one reason why it was such a big deal […]