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Pigs in Space

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Piscrew
PIS

The "Pigs in Space" cast, 1980.

PIS-BridgeCrew

Pigs in Space is a recurring sketch from The Muppet Show, featuring the exploits of Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy, and Dr. Julius Strangepork leading a crew of pigs aboard the Swinetrek. The sketch, in concept, is essentially a parody of Star Trek, Lost in Space and other space operas of the 1960s and 70s.

Pigs in Space first appeared on The Muppet Show during the second season. The recurring sketch became a popular part of the series, appearing in 32 episodes over four seasons. During the sketch's first year, Pigs in Space began with an introduction featuring the crew's commanding roster. Each introduction, narrated by Jerry Nelson as the Announcer, used several different humorous adjectives to describe the characters by name. This was dropped starting with the third season.

The popularity of Pigs in Space won the sketch a spot on the second Muppet Show cast album released in 1978. The script for the skit used in episode 205 was re-recorded in the studio by the performers. That same year, the events of the sketch from episode 209 were translated to the pages of The Muppet Show Book, as illustrated by Tudor Banus.

The height of pop-culture awareness for the crew of the Swinetrek occurred in 1981. As part of NASA's morning wake-up call tradition, by which the crew of the space shuttle are awakened with stirring music, familiar song lyrics, or comedy routines in order to boost morale and encourage camaraderie between the astronauts and their mission control colleagues, the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, part of the STS-2 mission, were greeted by Pigs in Space on two consecutive mornings. Specially recorded by the Muppet performers for this occasion, two separate comedy routines were heard, one on the morning of November 13, and another on November 14, where it followed a rendition of "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean" by a flight directorate band. [1]

Outside of The Muppet Show, animated Pigs in Space segments were featured on Little Muppet Monsters. Later, on Muppets Tonight, the sketch was revived as Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine (The Next Generation of Pigs in Space), a parody of the many Star Trek spinoffs, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

In The Muppets (2011) the introduction was heard as Kermit walks into the Muppet Theatre.

Pigs in Space continued to be a recurring theater sketch in The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roger Langridge.

Sketches

The Muppet Show Season 2

Picture Theme / Episode Description
Pigsinspace203
The Headlight on a Motorcycle
Episode 203: Milton Berle
The crew sees a white light heading straight at them. Miss Piggy suggests that it looks like the headlight on a motorcycle. Link doesn't believe her, but seventeen seconds later, Gonzo drives right by the Swinetrek on his motorcycle. When the indignant Link leaves the bridge, he gets his nose slammed in the closing doors and sets off the Stuck Pig Alarm.
Pigsinspace205
Mid-Course Correction
Episode 205: Judy Collins
Miss Piggy pleads to press the button to make a mid-course correction, which she has studied years for. Link's patronization causes her to miss the moment at which she was supposed to press the button. Link decides to do it himself, but winds up pressing the wrong one. This sketch was re-recorded for The Muppet Show 2 cast album.
Pigsinspace207
Miss Piggy's Important Job
Episode 207: Edgar Bergen
Link has an important job for Miss Piggy to do... the laundry.
Pigsinspace209
The Captain's Controls
Episode 209: Madeline Kahn
The Swinetrek is drifting in space, as the steering mechanism has lost power. Link is trying out various controls, and Miss Piggy points out one he missed. Link says that he already tried it, but Miss Piggy doesn't believe him and wants to try the control herself. Link tells her not to touch it, saying, "These are the Captain's controls!" Despite efforts to stop her, Miss Piggy tries it herself, and Link's head gets caught in the door. This sketch can also be seen in Muppet Moments and The Muppet Show Book.
Pigsinspace214
Boredom
Episode 214: Elton John
The crew is bored until an alarm goes off. Two "alien-beings," The Swedish Chef and a chicken, invade the Swinetrek.
Fozziepig
Inspection
Episode 216: Cleo Laine
Since Fozzie's mother is in the audience, he wants to be in every sketch, and he's even desperate enough to disguise himself as Miss Piggy for Pigs in Space. When Link inspects the crew, he thinks Fozzie is Piggy, and asks him if he shaved. This sketch can be seen in Fozzie's Muppet Scrapbook.
Pigsinspace218
Jettison
Episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan
The Swinetrek is getting heavy, so the crew needs to jettison something that has the weight of one pig. The fact that the ship is in danger of crashing to Earth is suggestive of the idea that this sketch takes place early on in the Swinetrek's voyage, considering that by the very next story (in episode 222) Link states that the crew is lost in endless space. This sketch can also be seen in Muppet Treasures.
Pigsinspace222
Out of Swill
Episode 222: Teresa Brewer
The Swinetrek is running low on rations. Captain Hogthrob asks First Mate Piggy to whip up a new batch of swill.
Pigsinspace223
Long John Silverstein
Episode 223: John Cleese
The Swinetrek is assaulted by Long John Silverstein and his nagging parrot. This is the only Pigs in Space sketch that doesn't include Miss Piggy or Dr. Strangepork (outside of the sketch's opening).
Pigsinspace224
Chopped Liver
Episode 224: Cloris Leachman
The Swinetrek is terrorized by Chopped Liver from the galaxy Zabar.


The Muppet Show Season 3

Picture Theme / Episode Description
Pigsinspace303
Electric Toaster
Episode 303: Roy Clark
Dr. Strangepork fixes the control panels by using some wires from the electric toaster, which causes everybody to pop up and down when a lever is pushed. Cameos are made by Gonzo, Camilla, Beaker, Male Koozebanian, Luncheon Counter Monster, The Witch Doctor, Chopped Liver and Statler. This sketch can also be seen in It's the Muppets: More Muppets, Please!
Pigsinspace305
Snacko Waves
Episode 305: Pearl Bailey
The Swinetrek is bombarded by snacko waves, which turn everybody's heads into food.
Pigsinspace307
Outlines
Episode 307: Alice Cooper
Link is suffering from a rare but very serious space disease, so Dr. Strangepork and Miss Piggy use a device that turns him into an outline of himself. Link feels better, but Strangepork and Piggy are unable to bring him back to normal, and eventually everyone (and everything) inside the Swinetrek turns into outlines as well.
Pigsinspace314
Dissolvatron
Episode 314: Harry Belafonte
Dr. Strangepork has invented the Dissolvatron, a ray gun that can move things from one place to another. He tries it on Miss Piggy and Link Hogthrob, but they end up trading bodies and voices. Strangepork then switches bodies and voices with Janice, while Kermit switches bodies with The Swedish Chef. This is one of the few Pigs in Space sketches not to include an exterior shot of the Swinetrek.
Pigsinspace315
Dummo Rays
Episode 315: Lesley Ann Warren
The Swinetrek passes through a shower of mysterious dummo rays. Only those who are extremely stupid (Link) are affected. His most peculiar side effect displayed is a penchant for tap-dancing.
TMS-319-FirstPigsOnKoozebane
First Pigs on Koozebane
Episode 319: Elke Sommer
In a two-part sketch, The Swinetrek takes the crew to the Planet Koozebane. Link and Piggy can't agree on which of them should be the first pig to set foot on Koozebane. They look around, and decide that there isn't any life on Koozebane. After they leave, a female rock wakes up and says she hears prowlers.
Pigsinspace324
Invisibility Pills
Episode 324: Cheryl Ladd
Dr. Strangepork invents a pill that makes pigs invisible. He and Link take the pills, and play pranks on First Mate Piggy.


The Muppet Show Season 4

Picture Theme / Episode Description
DearthNadir-Piggy
Dearth Nadir
Episode 402: Crystal Gayle
The evil Dearth Nadir attacks the Swinetrek with his band of chicken stormtroopers.
Swinetrek
M.A.M.M.A.
Episode 407: Dudley Moore
The musical robot M.A.M.M.A. appears and provides a soundtrack for the sketch. It plays fanfare music when Dr. Strangepork enters, clownish music whenever Link talks, and stripper music whenever Miss Piggy walks.
Pigsinspace412
Best Sketch Nomination
Episode 412: Phyllis George
First Mate Piggy and Captain Hogthrob argue over which Pigs in Space sketch should have been nominated for a Fred Award. Captain Blueboar barges onto the bridge thinking that they're doing "Pigalien," but Dr. Strangepork prefers "Strangepork Takes Up Disco."
Pigsinspace417
Star Wars
Episode 417: Star Wars
Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and R2-D2 borrow the Swinetrek so they can rescue Chewbacca the Wookiee. Link asks Luke for the name of his tailor because he loves Luke's outfit, while Miss Piggy dresses like Princess Leia. In part two, the Swinetrek lands on the Planet Koozebane, where they encounter Dearth Nadir, who has the technology to defeat them. The heroes foil his plan with an interception by Chewbacca, while Nadir counters with the gargling of Angus McGonagle as his secret weapon. Kermit enters the sketch and suggests that the only thing that can stop Nadir is a song and dance number. The cast starts by singing "You Are My Lucky Star," with a dance routine by C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca. When it's Luke's turn, he brings out his identical cousin, Mark Hamill, who sings leads the full cast in "When You Wish Upon a Star" for the finale.
Pigsinspace420
Weight Problems
Episode 420: Alan Arkin
The spaceship is tipping to one side. Every time Miss Piggy moves, the ship's balance shifts. This sketch can also be seen on The Muppet Revue and It's the Muppets: Meet the Muppets.
Pigsinspace423
Force Field
Episode 423: Carol Channing
There is an invisible force field in the doors, preventing anyone from leaving. Miss Piggy is late for the sketch, because her feet are too sore from her new shoes. Dr. Bob and Nurse Janice show up to try to make Piggy's feet feel better. With Miss Piggy being the only one who can leave, Janice cues the announcer so that they can get out.
Pigsinspace424
Gas Lighter
Episode 424: Diana Ross
Link's gas lighter has broken, and Strangepork attempts to fix it. Miss Piggy enters, but leaves because she thinks the audience is hissing at her. Strangepork tells Link that the audience is not hissing at Piggy. It is the lighter, which has sprung a leak. The lighter eventually falls underneath the control panel, landing next to a tank of nitroglycerin. Link lights a match to find the lighter, causing an explosion.


The Muppet Show Season 5

Picture Theme / Episode Description
Pigsinspace501
The End of the Universe
Episode 501: Gene Kelly
The Swinetrek is nearing the End of the Universe. Once they arrive there, they will discover the meaning and purpose of life. The dinner bell rings before they arrive, so Miss Piggy tells the viewer to stay for the meaning and purpose of life. After the sketch is interrupted with a Muppet News Flash, the crew laments the fact that they missed the meaning and purpose of life, but the Announcer reveals that he didn't miss it. He brags about knowing something they don't know, but Miss Piggy also knows something that the Announcer doesn't know.
Firstmateswitt
First Mate Loretta
Episode 502: Loretta Swit
Guest star Loretta Swit has replaced Miss Piggy on the Swinetrek, and she enters wearing a fake pig nose, which Link asks her to remove. Miss Piggy enters, and Loretta thinks that Kermit has had second thoughts about firing her, but an angry Kermit informs them that Miss Piggy is still fired. Loretta persuades Kermit and Piggy to sing a song together, "Side by Side by Side," and Kermit changes his mind about firing Piggy. The cast comes onstage and they all sing "What Would We Do Without You?"
Pigsinspace503
Rat Attack
Episode 503: Joan Baez
Rizzo tries to join the Swinetrek's crew.
Pigsinspace509
Meteor Storm
Episode 509: Debbie Harry
A meteor blows a hole through the Swinetrek's wall. The day is saved when Miss Piggy gets her snout stuck in the hole. Angry, she warns Link and Strangepork that they'll be in big trouble if they don't get her out. Link gets the pepper to sneeze her out, but gets stuck in the hole himself.
Mamaeatingpiggy
At the Dance
Episode 515: Carol Burnett
Coinciding with Gonzo's dance marathon, a disco ball spins in the viewscreen of the Swinetrek while an orchestral version of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" plays. Miss Piggy examines a captured Mean Mama, upset that Link and Strangepork are too busy dancing together to help. Strangepork suggests a better method of communicate, and the monster devours Miss Piggy. Gonzo zips into the sketch to chastise Piggy for not dancing (despite her situation), and after talking to Gonzo from Mean Mama's open mouth, Piggy moves down into his stomach and dances a two-step. This is one of the few Pigs in Space sketches to not have a closing shot of the Swinetrek.
Pigsinspace512
The Creature from Crab Nebula
Episode 512: Melissa Manchester
The Chopped Liver alien is back on the Swinetrek, this time speaking a language that nobody can understand. Dr. Strangepork turns on a translator, and it is revealed that he is a spokesman from the Crab Nebula for a company called Spumco. This is one of the few Pigs in Space segments to not have a closing shot of the Swinetrek.
Pigsinspace513
Quiet Day
Episode 513: Tony Randall
Since Miss Piggy has been turned into a stone statue, the crew enjoys an evening of peace and quiet. When Link pulls a lever, Miss Piggy is transformed back to normal, but when she tries to karate chop him, Link pulls the lever back up, and she becomes a statue again.
Pigsinspace523
Battle Robot Monster
Episode 523: Linda Ronstadt
Miss Piggy takes a trunk on-stage which Kermit has been locked inside to prevent a meeting with Linda Ronstadt, and tells Link and Dr. Strangepork that there is a battle robot monster inside. Dr. Strangepork asks if he should zap it, but Miss Piggy has him wait until she gets a promise from Kermit that he won't talk to Linda. After Kermit is unable to give Piggy an answer she approves of, Linda pulls the trunk backstage. This is one of the few Pigs in Space sketches to not have a closing shot of the Swinetrek.

The Muppet Show Comic Book

  • The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson: After teleporting away from an alien planet, Link has gone off, and a kangaroo has appeared on the Swinetrek somehow. Piggy and Strangepork think that Link is the kangaroo and attempt to reverse the "transformation" by shoving it into the teleporter, just as the Galactic Council calls in for a report. When he receives no reply, he announces that he will conclude the ship has been taken over and destroy it. It turns out that Link was taking a shower, and he is shown leaving the bathroom.

Merchandise

Pigsinspacelogo-sketch

Early Pigs in Space logo design, sketched by Michael K. Frith in 1975

Bts pins

Behind the scenes

A few items of dedicated Pigs in Space merchandise have been produced.

  • In 1978, Scandecor's line of Muppet Show posters included a Pigs in Space poster, with Piggy, Hogthrob and Strangepork striking a dramatic pose in front of a field of stars. A Pigs in Space lunchbox was also released.


Sources

  1. Fries, Colin. Chronology of Wake-up Calls, NASA History Office PDF document


See also



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