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The Muppet Show
Guest Glenda Jackson
Production April 21-24, 1980
Premiere UK: December 28, 1980
NYC: November 8, 1980


Glenda reveals herself to be Black Jackson the pirate captain, and she takes over The Muppet Theatre with the help of Short John Silver (Sweetums) and Eric, a heartless pirate parrot (in disguise as a penguin). They tie Kermit up, turn the theater into a ship, and cast off to look for buried treasure. The show ends with a musical battle at sea, with Gonzo and a crew of chickens fighting to save Kermit and the theater.



  • In Of Muppets and Men, head writer Jerry Juhl explained the origin of this episode: "A problem with some guest stars is that they have strong ideas about the show -- about what they'd like to do on it -- and those ideas are not exactly original. Almost everyone wants to work with Piggy, and sometimes that's fine, but often we'd feel much happier if we could match that guest up with another puppet. I think we generally do our best work when we're given a completely free hand, as happened with Glenda Jackson, for example. We asked her if there was anything she would like to do and she said, 'You people know what you're up to. I'll do anything you write for me.'"
  • Among the decor in Gonzo's office during "Workin' At the Car Wash Blues" are some of the awards The Muppet Show had received, include two BAFTA Awards and the Rose d'Or.


Picture Description
Cold Open: Pops finishes up a phone call where he has ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, insisting that it talks. He greets Glenda at reception who is accompanied by a penguin who identifies himself as Eric. Glenda claims that she's Eric's limousine and drives on to her dressing room. Pops says you can't miss it, as a crashing noise is heard off screen.
"The Muppet Show Theme": Gonzo blows his trumpet and gets pushed out of the way by four penguins.
Kermit tells the audience that their planned acts include centipede tag-team wrestling, the Singing Marinated Turnips, and "the fabulously versatile actress Glenda Jackson." Gonzo sings "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues" with some chickens in a car was station. His dream sequences include sitting, well-dressed in the car that has come in for service, and working in an office where his assistant, Miss Leghorn (played by Camilla the Chicken), is so attractive that he takes the afternoon off. She then jumps into his arms and cuddles with him.
Kermit greets Glenda in her dressing room, where she and Eric speak heavily in aquatic references. Kermit suspects she has ties to the ocean, and she reveals herself as Black Jackson, the heartless pirate captain. Eric announces himself as a heartless, pirate parrot, changing his costume behind the dressing screen from a penguin costume to a colorful parrot. Glenda says they're taking over the show with her band of pirates, including Sweetums as Short John Silver.
The pirates find their way to the stage and sing "Tie the Man Down", but the number ends with three of them tied together in ropes.
Backstage, Glenda announces that the Muppet Theatre has cast off to search for buried treasure. Kermit protests, but her crew tied him up as she continues to prepare the "ship" to go underway.
Kermit, still rope-bound, introduces Fozzie's comedy act, but Fozzie only gets one joke in before Glenda interrupts to give a series of nautical commands. The curtains fall back to reveal the theatre has been transformed into a ship at sea.
Glenda and the pirates perform a rousing rendition of "A Capital Ship" consisting of a dance number and some rough housing. Kermit enters halfway through to express his disbelief at the outdoor surroundings. When one of the trolls falls on the deck, the others use his belly as a trampoline. The number ends after one of them falls overboard. From his box seat, Waldorf says, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" and dives into the theatre house which is underwater.
In the UK Spot, Eric the Parrot sings "Carolina in the Morning" while The Swedish Chef readies him for the kitchen. Eric has the last word when he shoots him in the face with a blunderbuss pistol.
Continuing the illusion that the whole theatre is sailing on the ocean, the pirates work busily backstage, one raises a pirate flag, Sweetums takes the helm from the upstairs landing, and the whole room rocks back and forth making Scooter seasick.
The rocking continues At the Dance, contributing to the gags between dance partners. Each joke is punctuated by a piece of furniture sliding across the floor clearing out the participants.
In Muppet Sports, Louis Kazagger sits on a ship's mast on the open ocean waiting for a Whatnot to set a record for yard-arm hanging. He explains that you shouldn't look down or you might get dizzy. When he's five minutes away from his goal, Kazagger asks him how high up they are, prompting the Whatnot to look down and lose his grip. On the way down, he grabs Kazagger's microphone cord, pulling them both in a plummet to the deck.
Backstage, Kermit pages Shakey Sanchez for his number and Fozzie asks if he's okay because he looks kinda green. Lew Zealand takes an interest in Shakey's bomb-balancing act just as the theatre's movement on the ocean has calmed down. When Piggy passes by, she starts rocking the boat, and Shakey's bomb is passed back and forth from the stage to the backstage until it explodes in the wings. Kermit's had enough and heads out to the stage to announce that he quits.
Glenda tells Kermit that it's too late to close the show because the finale consists of a musical battle at sea. The extended sequence spans a medley of several sea-chanty songs on the deck of the pirate ship. Having fired a number of cannonballs, Piggy demands that the pirates stop destroying her frog's theatre. Glenda obliges by doing something to her: she's tied to a barrel and sentenced to walking the plank.
When the pirates run out of ammunition, The Flying Zucchini Brothers offer to stand in as projectiles. Under attack by flying chickens, Glenda notices that they've come under attack by "the scourge of the sea" Gonzo the Great. His ship approaches to board the Muppet Theatre as his chickens launch him as a living grappling hook.
An all-out battle commences filled with sword-fighting, explosions, bombs launched with baseball bats, and various acts of swashbucklery. Determined to regain control of the theatre, Kermit boards and entangles himself in a sword fight with Glenda. Kermit's swordplay triumphs, and the Muppets find Glenda and her pirates in defeat. Switching sides, Sweetums ties up his former captain bringing the battle/medley to a close.
Signing off the show, Kermit thanks Glenda for playing a pirate on the show. As she takes a bow, she picks up a sword and exclaims that she's really a pirate. A net drops, trapping the Muppets as Kermit tells the audience they'll see them next time. Still a pirate to the end, Glenda addresses the audience, "Don't hold your breath."
Statler and Waldorf's epilogue is from atop the mast where they ask why the lookout is called a crow's nest. A crow appears and says, "Get outta my nest, ya dummies!"


Muppets: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Statler and Waldorf, Pops, Lew Zealand, Eric the Parrot, Sweetums, Beauregard, Shakey Sanchez, Camilla the Chicken, The Swedish Chef, Louis Kazagger


Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Waldorf, Jade Green Frackle, Dancer, and The Swedish Chef
Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Frackle Pirate
Jerry Nelson as Pops, Eric the Parrot, Lew Zealend, Louis Kazagger, and Camilla
Richard Hunt as Scooter, Statler, Sweetums, and Dead Ear Dick
Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Beauregard, Crow, Yard-Arm Hanger (and Eric in cold open), Frackle Pirate
Steve Whitmire as Shakey Sanchez
Louise Gold as Dancer
Kathryn Mullen as Dancer
Betsy Baytos
Karen Prell as Dancer


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