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Episode 414: Liza Minnelli

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The Muppet Show
Guest Starring Liza Minnelli
Production Dates July 30 – August 2, 1979
Home Video Best of the Muppet Show
Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli with Kermit and Zoot.

The Muppets present a murder mystery. Kermit is a private eye hired by Liza O'Shaugnessy, an actress whose production is being terrorized by a killer. The director, Fritz (Strangepork), is shot. The police assign Patrolbear Fozzie to the case, and he interrogates the cast: "All right, which one of you killed the director?" The suspects are themselves killed one by one, until Kermit and Liza team up to unmask the true killers -- Statler and Waldorf.

Songs/Sketches


Episode

Picture Description
414-1
Cold Open: Scooter calls for guest star Liza Minnelli. Soon after she responds, he is gasping and choking. He falls over onto her table, apparently dead! “Scooter,” Liza says, “that was a great rehearsal!” Scooter pops right back up, perfectly fine.
414-2
The Muppet Show Theme”: Gonzo plays his “new hit single.”
414-3
Kermit the Frog announces that they will be doing a very different show tonight. He calls for Scooter to finish the introduction so that he can go backstage to get ready for his part. Scooter enters, still rehearsing his death scene. Scooter introduces the show as a night of intrigue and mystery… and promises murder!
414-4

414-5
A Wednesday evening in July. Private Detective Kermit the Frog is just returning to his office after completing the Missing Pollywog case. He receives a surprising visitor, the actress Liza O’Shaughnessy (as portrayed by Liza Minnelli). She is about to open a show at the Roxy, but explains the dread and terror associated with the show. Earlier, she had received a note telling her to close down the show or everyone dies! The note was found pinned to her dresser with a knife. Her dresser’s name was Gladys.
414-6

414-7
Kermit is hanging around backstage at the theater, trying to be inconspicuous – a difficult task for a frog in a trench coat.

Fritz, the show’s director, is calling everyone together to rehearse Liza’s opening number. He is informed that she is unavailable, however, and so he calls on her understudy. The understudy is Miss Piggy, and she is not happy about the role, nor is she the right type or species. Liza does finally show up, and the rehearsal can go on as planned.

FRITZ: "Now, remember, this is your big moment. Here I want the spark. The moment of magic; the raw, unbridled passion! You know what I want?"

LIZA: "Yeah, smile and show my legs."

414-8

414-9
Liza sings “Copacabana,” joined by a Mutation and a Troll for the dance portion. The two fight for Liza’s affection, eventually leading to the Mutation’s murder.
414-10
Backstage, Liza seeks the approval of Zoot. Zoot tells her that she was “fan-sca-diddly-bop-tastic” and that she is too good to be a person. She should have been a saxophone. Liza asks if that makes her Zoot’s “sax symbol.”
414-11

414-12
Shortly after Fritz calls for a third take, he is shot! A mysterious figure fires from behind a plant.

Gonzo encourages his fellow performers to continue with the show: “Fritz was a man of the theater! He died trying to make the grease paint and tinsel into magic! This show could be his final tribute! Fritz would have wanted it this way!”

414-13

414-14
Gonzo proceeds to lead them all in a performance of “Great Day” with Gonzo playing the role of Gabriel. They all watch as Fritz is raised up to “heaven.”
414-15

414-16
The police have assigned Patrolbear Fozzie to the case. He decides to ask the cast a few subtle questions: “Which one of you killed the director?” Fozzie concludes that they’re all in the clear.Scooter arrives with dirt on everyone of them, explaining why each one actually hated Fritz. Kermit asks Scooter if he knows who the murderer is, and he does! Scooter is about to reveal the name… when he is stabbed in the back with a knife! Scooter falls over dead. Gonzo tries to lead them all in a reprise of “Great Day,” but he is told to shut up.
414-17
Liza calls Kermit up to her dressing room. She tells him that the murderer is in the dressing room next door! Kermit goes to catch the criminal.
414-18
Kermit enters the darkened room, getting chills and a few contusions. He states that the thing about darkness is that although he cannot see his enemy, his enemy cannot see him. Except that in this case, his enemy has a flashlight. Kermit is hit over the head with a hammer.
414-19

414-20
UK Spot: Baskerville, Muppy, Lyle the Dog, and Wolfhound sing "Pass That Peace Pipe." Each one is murdered as the song ends, and even Animal ends up with a hatchet in his head.
414-21

414-22
Liza enters the dressing room to discover that Kermit has been left for dead! She rushes to his side, desperate to wake him and is relieved to see that he is alive, though slightly wounded.

Upon facing failure in his case, Kermit and Liza join together and sing "A Quiet Thing.” The song ends with a surprise as a dead body falls from the closet.

414-23

414-24
Meanwhile, down in the Canteen Fozzie is interrogating Lew Zealand about his alibi. Lew’s only alibi is his pet halibut. Lew then cries out “Poison!” and falls down dead. Bunsen, however, tries to claim he choked on a fishbone and was saying "poisson," the French word for fish.

Soon everyone in the canteen is dead (including the Swedish Chef, when trying to prove his food is safe). Fozzie rushes off to get Kermit. Gonzo enters to once again sing “Great Day,” but this time he stops himself.

414-25

414-26

414-27
Kermit announces to the whole cast that Liza has discovered the identity of the murderer! And just as she is about to accuse someone, the lights go out. We hear screaming and gun shots. As the lights come back up, we find that Liza has been stabbed.

Liza falls backwards onto the table and shares a tender goodbye with Kermit.

Statler and Waldorf race on crying, “Not Liza! We didn’t mean to bump her off! Just the rest of you guys!” Liza stands to reveal it was all an act.

Fozzie is happy to arrest the two elderly critics, and when Kermit tells him to throw the book at them, Beauregard is happy to comply.

414-28
With the case solved, there’s only one thing left to do… sing! The Muppets join Liza in singing “Everything's Coming Up Roses.”
414-29
At the closing, Liza reveals that she’s always wanted to do a murder mystery, and asks Kermit if she can take home one of the fake knives. She demonstrates it on the frog, and he pretends that he has really been stabbed.
414-30
Statler and Waldorf are imprisoned in their balcony for twenty years. Statler complains that if he had known the judge would give them the "box," he would have asked for the chair.

Notes

  • Awards: Director Peter Harris received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing (Variety or Music Program) for the episode, while editor John Hawkins won for outstanding video tape editing.
  • The episode's murder mystery theme and film noir atmosphere also garnered the attention of the Mystery Writers of America. In 1980, the Raven Award (given for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of fiction writing ) went to The Muppet Show for the episode (submitted as "Muppet Murders").[1]

Cast

Muppets:

Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Animal, Zoot, the Swedish Chef, Statler and Waldorf, Julius Strangepork, Lew Zealand, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Beauregard, Baskerville, Muppy, Lyle the Dog, Wolfhound

Background Muppets:

Mutation, Troll, Droop, Annie Sue, Rowlf the Dog, Link Hogthrob, Robin the Frog, Penguins, Marvin Suggs, Whatnots

Performers

Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Dr. Teeth, the Swedish Chef and Waldorf
Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal
Jerry Nelson as Floyd Pepper, Dr. Strangepork, Lew Zealand and Baskerville
Richard Hunt as Scooter, Beaker, Janice, Lyle the Dog and Statler
Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beauregard, Zoot and Muppy
Louise Gold
Steve Whitmire as Wolfhound
Kathryn Mullen

Gallery

Sources

  1. Raven Mystery Award Winners- Complete Lists. Mystery.net


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