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The Muppet Show was broadcast from 1976 to 1981 in first-run syndication. This means that, unlike a TV show produced by a network, the series was made and then sold to local television stations. Without a corporate entity keeping a consistent schedule, broadcast dates varied greatly depending on the market, and were dictated by regional demographics.
As such, the broadcast debut of any given episode of The Muppet Show depends on the viewer's locality. The two most commonly cited dates used are those catalogued for New York City in the United States, and the Midlands region in England.
The numbers ascribed to episodes of The Muppet Show originate with their production code. However, it should be noted that the sequential order of these episode numbers does not denote the order in which they were produced. Production numbers were assigned according to factors outside of the dates in which each episode entered production. Additionally, the production of many episodes would overlap, with the crew filming material for two separate episodes concurrently. In some cases, episodes were recorded out of their original production sequence due to the availability of the guest stars or other production factors.
This table serves to organize a list of all 120 episodes that can be sorted by episode number, production start date, US premiere, and UK premiere. This may help in assessing a number of firsts that took place over the course of the series' five-year run. For example, simply stating that Beauregard made his "debut" in episode 310 is a slight misconception. Episode 310 is the first episode in which he appears according to the production codes, but it aired in NYC after the character had already apeared on screen in episode 312. Thus, a character's "debut" is open to some interpretation depending on what region the episode was first seen in, when it was written, and when it was taped.
Note: dates are formatted year-month-day to accomodate an automatic ordering structure.
- The Muppet Show broadcast dates for ATV Midlands region come from John Lavalie and Alex Taylor.
- The Muppet Show broadcast dates for WCBS-TV New York comes from The Paley Center for Media online database.
- production numbers are sourced to Henson.com
- Production dates were originally sourced to Kermitage.com and have since been confirmed via correspondence between Muppet Wiki and The Jim Henson Company Archives