Muppet Labs, where the future is being made today, is the site of scientific enquiry, technological breakthroughs, and sundry explosions on The Muppet Show. Headed by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the lab premiered in episode 108 and lasted all five seasons. During the first season, Bunsen worked alone. Beginning in season two, the good doctor acquired an assistant-cum-guinea pig, the hapless Beaker.
In each installment, Dr. Honeydew would present his latest scientific breakthrough, inventions which ranged from the gorilla detector to the Automatic Wastebasket. In the great Muppet tradition, the majority of these devices backfired, proving hazardous to all and sundry. In later episodes, such as episode 506, Muppet Labs and its inventions played a key role in the backstage plot when it came to restoring Brooke Shields to her normal size.
For the first two seasons, the lab set consisted of computers and a desk against a plain blue background. In the third season, the set was changed to more closely resemble an office, with a wall clock (which was square in the third season, and circular after that) and a city backdrop. Most but not all of these later sketches began with a shot of the clock as the camera zoomed back to reveal the rest of the set.
Following the end of The Muppet Show, Muppet Labs still remained the premiere research laboratory of the Muppet universe, with new discoveries occurring on The Jim Henson Hour and Muppets Tonight. The lab also plays a key role in Muppet*Vision 3D, as the labs founded Muppet*Vision technology.
In merchandise, The Comic Muppet Book featured a "Muppet Labs" sketch, in which Bunsen tests out his Laugh-O-Matic, which makes the wearer laugh. The Muppets: On with the Show! featured a Muppet Labs level. The first Muppet playset released by Palisades Toys was a Muppet Labs Playset. The preview issue of The Muppet Show Comic Book featured a Muppet Labs sketch.
The Muppet Show Season 1
|All-Purpose Tenderizer||Episode 108: Paul Williams||Dr. Bunsen Honeydew displays the all-purpose tenderizer, which can make anything softer. He demonstrates by tenderizing a dish, a ladle, then he finds out that someone used the all-purpose tenderizer on the table.|
|Robot Politician||Episode 112: Peter Ustinov||Dr. Honeydew shows off the robot politician (played by Peter Ustinov), who can become any kind of government ruler. The robot eventually overheats and explodes.|
|Gorilla Detector||Episode 116: Avery Schreiber||Dr. Honeydew shows off his latest invention, a gorilla detector, which is devised to sound a warning whenever a gorilla approaches. During the demonstration, a gorilla arrives (a performer in a gorilla suit, rather than a puppet) and proceeds to smash the equipment. Dr. Honeydew steadfastly refuses to believe that the creature is a gorilla, however, since the detector hasn't gone off. The gorilla then attacks Bunsen, and the alarm finally goes off, albeit far too late.|
|Exploding Clothes||Episode 118: Phyllis Diller||Dr. Honeydew shows off the latest in scientific apparel: exploding hats, exploding earmuffs, and exploding neckties.|
The Muppet Show Season 2
|Magnetic Carrots||Episode 202: Zero Mostel|| Dr. Honeydew invents magnetic carrots, which attract steel rabbits.
|Bunsonium||Episode 212: Bernadette Peters||Bunsen shows off a liquid called "Bunsonium", which he and Beaker haven't been able to figure out what it does. They already know that it doesn't remove paint, it isn't a good glue, and causes unusual side effects when used as a shampoo (to which Beaker briefly pulls his hair off to show). Bunsen has Beaker drink it, and Beaker's head deflates.|
|Nuclear Shaver||Episode 215: Lou Rawls||Beaker is supposed to try out the nuclear shaver, but is forced to wear a lead helmet which is so heavy his head goes down into his shirt.|
|Hair-Growing Tonic||Episode 217: Julie Andrews|| Dr. Honeydew invents a new hair tonic. Despite his baldness, the good doctor naturally tests the elixir on Beaker, whose own hair flies off as a result. Bunsen then considers renaming the tonic "Hair-Raising Tonic".
|Teleporter||Episode 219: Peter Sellers||Dr. Honeydew presents his teleporter, which can transport people from one location to another. This makes Kermit furious, so Bunsen transports him away. Meanwhile, the scientist attempts to retrieve Beaker, previously teleported to the jungles of Africa, and inadvertently brings back a friend, Quongo the Wild Mountain Gorilla in his debut. Bunsen sends them both back to Africa and tries to bring back just Beaker, but he only succeeds in bringing back Quongo and Kermit.|
|Automatic Wastebasket||Episode 221: Bob Hope||Dr. Honeydew's newest invention, the Automatic Wastebasket, is efficient as a waste disposal unit, but has an insatiable hunger.|
|Electric Nose Warmer||Episode 222: Teresa Brewer||Beaker tests out an electric nose warmer, which is a little too hot.|
The Muppet Show Season 3
|Elevator Shoes||Episode 301: Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge||Dr. Honeydew has good news for short, stubby people... like Beaker. He has invented elevator shoes, which increase the wearer's height. He pulls the lever, making Beaker grow (and revealing that Beaker wears striped socks).:Note: This is the first appearance of the new Muppet Labs set.|
|Super Adhesive||Episode 304: Gilda Radner||Gilda Radner volunteers to assist Bunsen and Beaker with the super glue that Dr. Honeydew invented. However, Gilda accidentally squirts glue all over, causing everybody to be stuck, including Statler and Waldorf at the end.|
|Edible Paperclips||Episode 305: Pearl Bailey||Beaker enjoys eating edible paper clips...until his nose falls off.|
|Shrinking Pills||Episode 306: Jean Stapleton||Bunsen shows off his new shrinking pills. Beaker eats too many and shrinks very small.|
|Germ Enlarger||Episode 307: Alice Cooper||Dr. Honeydew invents a solution that can make a small germ bigger, thereby making the microscope obsolete. But when Beaker tosses their microscope away, Bunsen threatens to dock his salary. This is soon forgotten once the Germ is enlarged, however, as it quickly engulfs Beaker, much to Bunsen's amusement.|
|Fireproof Paper||Episode 318: Leslie Uggams||Despite what Bunsen claims, fireproof paper immediately ignites when Beaker lights it. However, his flammable water works fine.|
The Muppet Show Season 4
|Banana Sharpener||Episode 402: Crystal Gayle||Bunsen creates a device which sharpens bananas, allowing them to be easily stored by sticking them in a wall (preferably with the attached slingshot).|
|Luggage Compressor||Episode 416: Jonathan Winters||Dr. Honeydew invents a machine that can compress any type of travel baggage.|
|Milking Machine||Episode 418: Christopher Reeve||Dr. Honeydew invents a milking machine which ends up changing Beaker's hair.|
|Pet Converter||Episode 422: Andy Williams||Dr. Honeydew shows off an invention that can turn anything into a pet. It first converts a cat into a dog, then the dog is converted in a tiger that attacks Beaker. The sketch features a look at Gaffer without her eye patch.|
The Muppet Show Season 5
|Alchemy Machine||Episode 504: Shirley Bassey||Dr. Honeydew has invented a machine that can turn gold into cottage cheese. For the demonstration, Beaker has taken a gold bar from backstage, which security guard Bruno attempts to retrieve. The precious metal has already been converted into cottage cheese, however, so the guard chases after Beaker.|
|Electric Sledgehammer||Episode 510: Jean-Pierre Rampal||The electric sledgehammer pounds Bunsen and Beaker instead of the nail. It then escapes from Muppet Labs, roaming about on a very long extension cord, as reported by the Muppet Newsman before he's attacked by the machine.|
|Copying Machine||Episode 514: Mac Davis||Dr. Honeydew is sad because Beaker is missing, but he presents his latest invention, a copying machine. The nervous Beaker had fallen into the machine, and the lab assistant is duplicated as a result. In a running gag throughout the episode, the Muppet Theater is gradually overrun by Beaker clones.|
The Jim Henson Hour
|Exercise Shoes||Episode 107: Health and Fitness||Dr. Honeydew has invented shoes that can help people to exercise while at work. Beaker wears the shoes and exercises his way to the ceiling, but then Bunsen says that the shoes automatically stop at the sound of a bell.|
|Micro Shrink-o-Matic Machine||Episode 202: Rick Moranis||In an attempt to emulate guest star Rick Moranis, Dr. Honeydew invents his own shrinking machine which only shrinks Beaker's head.|
|Mood Meals||Episode 203: Heather Locklear||Bunsen has developed snacks that release endorphins to the brain. A biscotti makes one incredibly nice, while a chimichanga makes them extremely evil.|
|Deadly Alarm Clock||Episode 204: Pierce Brosnan||Dr. Honeydew has developed equipments for Pierce Brosnan to host the show. He develops a deadly alarm clock, a clock place into a giant slingshot and fire point blank at someone's head. Pierce later use the equipment to fight off the Rock Lobsters.|
|Robot Abraham Lincoln||Episode 206: Paula Abdul||Dr. Honeydew invents a robotic version of Abraham Lincoln, which runs amuck.|
|Why... This... Takes... So...Long.||Dr. Honeydew gives hint on how to stop online delays.|
|A Keyboard Tutorial||Dr. Honeydew explains some keyboard shortcuts.|
|Meep-meep-meep...Disney.com||Dr. Honeydew explains some of the new features on Disney.com|
|The World Wide Waiting Game||Dr. Honeydew and Beaker showcase some games you can play while waiting on a slow Internet connection.|
|Carv-O-Matic||Bunsen and Beaker demonstrate their automatic pumpkin-carving machine, which accidentally carves Beaker's head.|
|Ghost Hunter||From inside the Muppet Mobile Lab, Bunsen and a penguin observe Beaker's trip into a haunted house.|
- Time Machine (Comic-Con Preview Issue)
- Bunsen invents a time machine, and tells Beaker to go 30 seconds into the past. Unfortunately, he keeps going back to when Bunsen tells him to go 30 seconds into the past.
- Humorous Cheese (Fozzie's Story)
- Bunsen invents a Humorous Cheese, milked from cows with a greater-than-average sense of humor. The cheese comes to life, but when his joke becoem too much for the scientists, Bunsen has Beaker to do "Plan B", letting the cheese chasse Beaker into a cage. Unfortunatley for Beaker, Bunsen won't unlock it, for fear that the cheese will try to escape.
- Psychic Ability Monitoring Device (Miss Piggy's Story)
- Believing that everybody has a bit of psychic ability in them, Bunsen has Beaker wear a monitoring device helmet and asks a series of questions, which Beaker keeps getting right. But Beaker soon catches fire.