The Muppet Show has arrived on Disney+, but it’s not completely intact. Here’s what’s been cut and why.
The Muppet Show has finally arrived on Disney+, and while fans young and old can now relive the variety show’s best episodes, they won’t be able to watch it in its entirety. The show’s problematic content comes with a disclaimer, but some segments still won’t be part of Disney+’s collection. And as it turns out, most of the cuts boil down to something even Disney can’t overcome: music rights.
Two episodes of The Muppet Show are missing from the show’s catalog on Disney+. The first, Episode 506, is an Alice in Wonderland-themed entry hosted by Brooke Shields, who was the youngest guest star in the show’s history, that in typical Muppets fashion, goes off the rails. The reason it was cut, however, was that it features a confused Fozzie, dressed as the Tin Woodsman, singing The Wizard of Oz’s “We’re Off To See The Wizard.” The rights to that film are owned by Warner Bros, who are currently working on a remake, making negotiations for the rights to the song prohibitively difficult.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Music rights are at the heart of the majority of The Muppet Show’s Disney+ omissions. Songs have been cut from 12 episodes, including those performed by guest stars like Don Knotts’ ill-fated collaboration with The Electric Mayhem, “Lullaby of Birdland,” while others are sung by the Muppets themselves, such as Beauregard’s rendition of “Dancing On the Ceiling.” Broadway legend and Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist actress Bernadette Peters’ guest appearance has the most songs cut from it, though. While neither song is performed by her, Kermit’s nephew’s rendition of “I’m Five” and “They Call The Wind Maria” have been cut from the episode.
The cut that shows how convoluted rights issues can be, however, comes in Episode 518. In this entry, Kermit’s old friends from Sesame Street stopped by the show, and both casts sing a verse of its theme song. In spite of Jim Henson’s involvement in Sesame Street, the cameo had to be cut because HBO holds the rights to the series.
Outside of music, the majority of Disney+’s cuts were to segments shot for territories with fewer commercial breaks than the U.S. market. The spots were edited into the DVD releases of The Muppet Show, but have been cut from the Disney+ release entirely. The only other thing to be completely committed is Episode 519, which likely never had a chance to run afoul due to music licensing.
That episode’s guest star was the show’s sole British writer, Chris Langham, who’s become an infamous figure since his unlikely appearance. Langham was a substitute for the show’s originally scheduled guest star, Richard Pryor, who dropped out at the last minute, and played a messenger who delivered the news that yodeler Bennie Brillstein refused to take part in the episode.
Years after his appearance, Langham was arrested by Kent Police in November of 2005 in conjunction with Operation Ore, a British investigation into child pornography. He was convicted two years later and sentenced to 10 months in jail. Langham’s sentence was reduced to 6 months on appeal, but Disney decided it didn’t want anything more to do with him and has tried to remove the episode wherever possible.
For fans who are dying to watch The Muppet Show’s omitted musical numbers, physical media is really the only way to go. Most of these segments can be found on their respective season’s DVD or The Best Of The Muppet Show DVD.
KEEP READING: The Best Muppet Show Episodes To Stream On Disney+
WandaVision: Why Wanda Turns SWORD Into a Circus
About The Author