Release: May 10, 2011 - Author: -Der-Tribun - Translator: DaxRider123 - external link: IMDB - more from this series
The Muppet Show is probably Jim Hensons most famous work to date. I guess the show itself is famous enough so that we don't have to get into detail with the story/characters. However, not too many people know that The Muppet Show has a long and interesting history of international releases.
The German version of the series is a very interesting example of a well-done edit. In 1976, the German TV station "ZDF" indicated interest in releasing the series (the Muppets were already known due to the previous release of the "Sesame Street"). Unlike other TV series (e.g. "Star Trek"), Henson insisted on a German edit that was truthful to the original.
Unlike the dubbing (which was made in Germany), most of the edits were made in England - the Show's home country. Therefore, the German version had its own title card:
However, there's more. The German version also has different credits and whenever Kermit moderates, the English producers shot new scenes of these sequences in order to make shure that his lip movement fits to the German dubbing.
Overall, the German edit is well-done and pretty truthful to the original humor (even though they had to re-write some of the jokes). For later seasons, Henson was concerned about keeping the amount of America-centered jokes pretty low in order to make them more understandable for an international audience.
Not too many people know that the US version of the Muppet Show is in principle shorter than the other international releases due to the fact that there was a pretty simple principle: "23 minutes show + 2 minutes commercial break = 25 minutes". Since most of the international TV stations did not include commercial breaks in shows that are that short, Henson had to come up with a solution.
What he did was producing 2 minutes of extra footage which often consisted of musical numbers and sometimes even a new sketch. This extra footage was unknown in the USA until the series was finally released on DVD.
2 examples of these new scenes would be the song "Train to Morrow" (on the left) or Rowlf as Sherlock Holmes (on the right).
The DVD Releases
The international publishing on DVD is a pretty tiresome story. While in Fance and Italy all 5 seasons were released on DVD, the USA and UK to date only released the first 3 seasons. In Germany there was a pretty long-lasting lawsuit about who actually owned the rights of the German dubbing. However, the producers were able to resolve this conflict and already released the first 2 seasons (season 3 will follow in May 2011).
It's pretty surprising that the German DVDs were all released uncut while the American DVDs miss out on several musical numbers - the fans were not amused. The reasons for this were copyright issues as well as huge costs that Disney didn't want to pay.
Therefore, this is a comparison between the uncut German DVD and the shortened US DVD.
Episode 1x18: Twiggy and Mary Roos
For this episode, the German audience were blessed with a special sequence: the Henson Company produced an extra segment with German singer Mary Roos that replaced a scene with guest star Twiggy. It's unclear why they did this - was Twiggy not famous enough in Germany? Anyways, only this special version was dubbed and aired in Germany. The German dubbing includes several changes (e.g. Kermit mentions Mary Roos several times throughout the episode).
The DVD of course offers the problem, that one wouldn't be able to use the English soundtrack for this episode. Therefore the publisher decided to include the scene with Mary Roos in the bonus material of the DVD; now, the German audience is able to watch every segment available.
At this point we see the different scenes. It has to be mentioned that the German scene has a runtime of 5:15 minutes, whereas the English version only runs for 2:45 minutes. This means, that the German version is 2 min. and 30 sec. longer.
In the German version, Mary Roos at first talks to Rowlf and they crack several dog jokes. After that, they make fun of Muppets. Then they talk about working with stars and Rowlf shows off with all the productions he was a part of. Then the band enters the stage and after a short discussion, Mary Roos performs the song "Komm zu Mir".
In the English version, Twiggy is confronted by several reporters who ask a few pretty weird questions (e.g. why she only has one nose - the Muppet who asks this question has two noses). When someone asks her who's the most important person in her life, she starts performing the song "In My Life.".