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Tv Review : Celebrating The Muppet Memories

January 21, 1986|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

Not another one of those black-tie TV galas to salute another celebrity! Why, this is the fourth anniversary special that CBS has aired in the past week.

But there's a difference to this one: It features Muppets--not only on the dais but also in the audience. More than 200 of the wonderful characters from Jim Henson and his talented cronies are on display tonight in "The Muppets--A Celebration of 30 Years" (8 p.m., Channels 2 and 8).

Still, the hourlong program falls into some of the same pitfalls of other such shows: There are too many introductions and appearances, the choice of clips is uneven and the tone is more self-congratulatory than reflective.

Which is more a criticism of the genre than the Muppets. They are a delight, as the best of the clips remind us. There are selections from their debut in 1955 on the local TV show "Sam and Friends," from their various guest appearances on TV, from "Sesame Street" and from their movies.

Unquestionably the best, however, are the moments from "The Muppet Show," the slightly daffy, always entertaining variety series that ran in syndication from 1976 to 1981. What a treat to see Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang performing again with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Harry Belafonte, Ethel Merman and George Burns.

That was real star power. And the humans weren't bad either.

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