Release: May 04, 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 1x03: Joel Grey
In this episode, local moralizer Sam clarifies that he always tries hard to keep the cultural level as high as possible. Then he introduces his favorite couple - Wayne and Wanda - who according to Sam's judgement are politically correct. He adds that cultural tasks don't equate the expensive TV license fee.
Wayne and Wanda try to sing "Stormy Weather", however, they don't go very far: after their first sentence it starts to rain.
Rumors claim that this episode is missing out on 2 additional segments: one news-sequence and one of Waldorf's and Statler's balcony scenes. This is NOT true. These sequences were archive footage and only used for a re-run of the series in the USA. Therefore, this is no origianl footage of this episode.