The content gods are smiling upon us: The Muppet Show, the original 1970s variety show that fully established Jim Henson’s gang as a legit pop culture phenomenon, is finally making its way to Disney+ on February 19. All five seasons, which were originally produced between 1976 and 1981, will be available that day.
Although the Muppets date back to the ‘50s, and appeared as supporting players on various shows over their first two decades (most notably Sesame Street), The Muppet Show is when they really became the Muppets we know and love today. With its irreverent pop culture parodies and raft of big name guest stars, The Muppet Show was one of the landmark shows of the late ‘70s, almost like an early evening version of the then-new Saturday Night Live, but one that kids could enjoy, too. Several popular Muppets debuted on the show, including Fozzie Bear, and some preexisting Muppets, like Miss Piggy and Gonzo, saw the personalities we know and love today defined on the show. In a side note, it also brought EGOT holder Rita Moreno one of two Emmys she won, for an episode that aired in 1977. (Moreno’s other Emmy? 1978, for guest star in The Rockford Files—which she was also nominated for lead actress in. Makes no sense!)
Will these actually be the original, unedited episodes, though? We don’t know. Like many 20th century TV shows, The Muppet Show has never been fully released on home video, because of the enormous amount of songs whose rights would have to be worked out. There have been various VHS and DVD collections that are heavily edited, with most of the musical performances or song parodies removed, and almost always only including footage from the first three seasons. Several episodes from the last two seasons have never been released on home video in any capacity, meaning they’ve rarely been seen since originally airing in 1980 and 1981. It would be a Herculean effort to lock down all the necessary rights to release the entire series in full, with no edits or music changes, but if any company is big enough to take care of that it’d be Disney.
This is big news not just for Muppets fans, but fans of TV and pop culture history—a crucial
document from the second half of the ‘70s will finally be available again, and more easily accessible than ever. Hopefully it’s the full series and not a shoddy chop job.
Disney announced the news by uploading part of the show’s opening. Uh, check that out below.