2 Days until Halloween, and I am Halloween’d out. I place the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of myself and on our Halloween party, which wrecked our house, broke a ton of stuff, and caused me to overdose on Halloween and beer.
That said, I promised last year that I would break down the Muppet Show episode with Alice Cooper for this year’s Halloween. Don’t believe me? Then go back and read this: the Muppets Meet Vincent Price!!!
I am not a huge Alice Cooper fan. I like him, but not as much as I like Vincent Price. I saw Alice Cooper in concert once and it was really good. He cut his own head off.
As I mentioned in the Vincent Price episode, these Time-Life DVDs feature an introduction by Brian Henson before each episode. Some of them are generic, and some are specific to the show. This one gets a specific one where Brian gives a little context for the episode we are about to watch.
He explains that, right when everyone was starting to feel safe with the Muppet Show being on primetime tv, his dad went and booked Alice Cooper to be on the show, just to shake things up a little.
It’s hard for me, personally, to envision a world where the most controversial thing in pop culture is Alice Cooper, but it must have been so. Brian Henson says it was, anyway. He also says that the Alice Cooper song “School’s Out” was banned in schools all over the world. I guess it’s the bit about blowing up the school that got people a bit nervous.
In the documentary “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”, Alice Cooper claims to have invented heavy metal. I don’t know about that, but he was certainly very influential. That makeup is definitely a precursor of Turbonegro or any of the corpse-painted black metal bands.
To get back to the show, it opens with the traditional scene of Scooter warning the guest star of the imminent rising of the curtain, and the guest doing something goofy:
Scooter: “Ummm, Mr. Cooper, those monsters aren’t ours…”
Alice Cooper: “I know, Scooter. They’re mine.”
If you want a bunch of screen shots of the opening song, you can go back to the Vincent Price post. I think it has a couple. But I did want to include this shot of Gonzo hitting the last trumpet blast and a blue ghost coming out:
Remember that popsicle called “Blue Ghost”? It sucked, but I always got it because it was a ghost.
The very first scene is Alice performing “Welcome to My Nightmare”, a perennial hit on my Halloween playlist. This set is badass.
This skeleton is muppetized. He moves around and I think even sings a line or two. He definitely makes some sort of noise. My short term memory is gone.
The band from the opening scene with Scooter materializes out of the Muppet velvety ether to back A.C. up with wah pedals and a moderately funky sound for a rock song.
I never miss a chance to include a screenshot of a muppet ghost. Especially one that is doing a choreographed dance with Alice Cooper. I love it when they do the see-through muppets, it reminds me of the Haunted Mansion.
I just thought that was a cool shot.
At the end of the song, Alice disappears and then he shows up all ghostly like this. This probably would have frightened me as a kid, as extreme close ups still make me avert my eyes to this day, thanks to that ultra-scary scene in the Wizard of Oz when the witch shows up in the crystal ball and the camera zooms in on her cackling mug. I still can’t watch that scene. True horror.
After the song is over, Alice is backstage and Kermit says, “It must be nice to be a famous rock star!”
Alice says he works for someone who can make that happen and offers Kermit a contract for his soul. Kermit declines, but there’s a minuscule side story in this episode where Gonzo has absolutely no qualms about signing the contract. I didn’t include any screenshots of that because there weren’t any really good ones until the very end, but we’ll get to that.
Beaker and Bunson have created an invention that makes microscopes obsolete: a device to enlarge germs and other microscopic organisms. Beaker chucks the microscope out the window and Bunson tells him, “That’s coming out of your pay, Beaker.”
Bunson and Beaker are two of the most consistently funny characters on the show.
Does enlarging a germ so that you don’t need a microscope to see it sound like a good idea? Of course it does! So they do it:
Beaker is in there somewhere, being eaten by the germ. Imagine muffled cries of, “Mew mew mew!!!” and you get an idea of the zany hilarity at work here.
Then we get a very bizarre scene where some cave things (stalactites and stalagmites) complain about a toothache. Then it zooms out and they are inside another stalagmite’s mouth, who then complains about his toothache. It is completely crazy-go-nuts and I have no doubt that whoever came up with it was on some form of the goofballs.
This next scene is so predictable, you can almost fast-forward through it:
Sam: “You are a despicable, degenerate, low-life, no morals having, etc. etc. monster!”
Alice: “Thank you!”
Then we see Fozzie in the Cantina. He says something like, “I’m gonna stay down here where it’s safe!” Then the muppets at his table laugh and they all have fangs! yikes!
Fozzie then says, “Can’t we have one nice thing on the show tonight?”
So we get this:
We immediately get another song, this time a version of “This is my once a year day” sung by monsters, presumably referencing Halloween:
Once again, there’s no in between time before a new song starts. This one is a duet between Alice Cooper and a disgusting looking half-clown, half-bird monster. Feathers are so gross.
Also, it’s a love song that I have heard before, but I don’t think it is an Alice Cooper song.
Then we get a very psychedelic episode of “Pigs in Space” which, besides Swedish Chef, was my favorite recurring segment on the Muppet Show.
Cue the next, and last, song:
I know there is some super fan out there who can probably name all the monsters, but the only one I know by name is Sweet’Ums. He’s in there somewhere…
The monsters drag Alice around. Whoever was in these monster costumes was really strong because they snatch Alice around like he was a rag doll.
The monsters tear off the graduation gown to reveal a devil leotard. Alice breaks character here a bit and smiles like a goon. You can really tell he’s having the time of his life here. Who wouldn’t? To be on the Muppet Show during the Jim Henson era would have been a dream come true.
Kermit: “Gonzo?!?!?! Is that the contract with the devil to get rich and famous???”
Gonzo: “No, it’s the bill from Special Effects!!!”
Produced by Jim Henson.
***edit 10/31/12: I was watching the extras on the dvd and it said that this episode was the first one that Steve Whitmire performed in. He would later go on to be Kermit after Jim Henson passed away.***
–It’s hard for me, personally, to envision a world where the most controversial thing in pop culture is Alice Cooper.–
Yeah… it’s strange when I reflect on the 1980s as “a simpler time”.