Out to Lunch is a prime-time special that aired on ABC on December 10, 1974. It mixed the Sesame Street Muppets and the cast of The Electric Company, along with guest stars Elliott Gould, Barbara Eden, and Carol Burnett. The production was jointly produced by Henson Associates, Children's Television Workshop, and ABC.
The premise of the show was that the ABC newscasters had all gone out to lunch, and it was up to the Electric Company cast and the Muppets to make up an hour of programming.
Select clips from the special have appeared in a number of compilation screenings by the Jim Henson Legacy.
- Cold Opening: Bill Beutel finishes a newscast; he and the stage manager (Jim Boyd) leave for lunch. Big Bird and Ernie announce that they're going to take over ABC while everyone else is out.
- "We're in Charge": The cast of Sesame Street and The Electric Company sing about being in charge of the network. (Sesame characters include Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Guy Smiley, the Count, Kermit the Frog, Herry Monster, Grover, Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster.)
- Carol Burnett bit #1: The announcer (Gary Owens) introduces Carol Burnett. Carol says she's on her lunch hour, and walks away.
- Act 1
- 60 Seconds: Ernie and Bert interview the President of the United States in a 60 Minutes spoof.
- Carol Burnett bit #2: Carol refuses to leave her dressing room.
- The Merry Divorcette: Elliott Gould and Rita Moreno play a divorced couple falling in love again. They sing a duet of "Flying Down to Reno".
- Posy's Diner: A parody of Nancy Walker's "Rosie's Diner" ads for Bounty paper towels, with Rita playing Posy: "Welcome to Posy's Diner, where everybody spills everything."
- Ernie/Bert Kanover Lead-In: Ernie and Bert are in the control room; they lead into the next Muppet sketch.
- Grover Kanover: Kermit the Frog, in newscaster mode, presents Grover as Grover Knover (spelled phonetically as "Kanover" in the script). Kermit announces that Grover is going to jump the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle (which has the Henson Associates insignia on it). This is news to Grover, and he refuses to jump. Kermit tries to talk him into it, telling him about the fame, the adulation, and the beautiful motorcycle. Grover's impressed with the bike, and asks how it works. Kermit demonstrates -- and ends up jumping the canyon himself. Kermit signs off the newscast, smashed up on a ledge.
- Search for the Guiding Life: A soap opera parody with the Electric Company cast.
- Ernie/Bert Lead-in to Barbara Eden: Bert is excited about Barbara Eden singing on the show. Ernie says it's not time for that -- but when Bert's back is turned, Ernie introduces Barbara.
- "Nearly Missed": Barbara sings "Nearly Missed".
- Carol Burnett bit #3: Carol refuses to do a dance number.
- Act 2
- Ernie/Bert Lead-in: ABC Lunch Delivered: Bert tells Ernie that after the next bit, a lot of people at ABC will have their lunch delivered.
- Burger Boss Commercial: An Electric Company spoof of Burger King's "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce" jingle.
- The Kookamonga Kid: Elliott plays the Kookamonga Kid, a gambler who finally meets his match -- Cookie Monster. They bet with cookies. The Kid wins the game, but Cookie Monster eats all the cookies anyway. Supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman (croupier, described as a 1930s gangster type), Luis Avalos (casino owner), Jim Boyd (gambler who loses to the Kid), and Rita Moreno and Skip Hinnant as background spectators.
- Carol Burnett bit #4: Carol is informed that her song has been cut.
- Ernie/Bert Lead-in: Ernie tells Bert that the next bit is going to be fantastic.
- Give It Back: A game show parody with the Electric Company cast.
- Grover Poem: Grover appears on a snowy road in a cart drawn by a Muppet horse. He reads Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
- Singing Saddle Shoes: Elliott and Rita dance in a spoof of 50s high school musicals.
- "Go Ahead and Touch: Barbara sings "Go Ahead and Touch" to Herry Monster.
- Carol Burnett bit #5: Stage manager announces Carol Burnett's bra commercial. She refuses.
- Cookie as Carson: Cookie Monster plays the Johnny Carson role in a spoof called The Nighty-Night Show. Guy Smiley serves as his Ed McMahon, and Jim Henson plays "person with cue card."
- Puppy-Love Dessert Chow Commercial: Skip Hinnant does a dog food commercial spoof with an Anything Muppet dog played by Jerry Nelson.
- "Nobody": Elliott sings "Nobody".
- Act 3
- Lead-in to Finale: Ernie announces that lunch hour is over, and they have to go.
- Reprise of "We're in Charge": Music background with the cast dancing across the stage, saying good night. Herry does a "station break" by giving the screen a karate chop. The screen splits in two and cuts into...
- Carol Burnett bit #6: Carol finally agrees to do something for the show, but the show is over.
- Ernie/Bert Lead-in: Ernie and Bert lead in to the credits.
- Electric Company cast: Rita Moreno, Luis Avalos, Hattie Winston, Morgan Freeman, Skip Hinnant, Judy Graubart, Jim Boyd
- Muppet Performers: Jim Henson, Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson and Richard Hunt
- Executive Producer: David D. Connell
- Produced by: Norton W. Wright
- Directed by: Bill Davis
- Written by: Christopher Cerf, Tom Dunsmuir, Clark Gesner, Bryan Joseph, Norman Stiles, Jim Thurman, Tom Whedon
- Music and Lyrics by: Joe Raposo; additional lyrics by Tom Whedon
- Puppets and Costumes by: Donald Sahlin, Caroly Wilcox, John Lovelady, Kermit Love
- Assistant musical director: Dave Conner
- Music coordinator: Danny Epstein
- Character logo by Jack Davis
- Rita Moreno was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role in the special.
- Original script (see the talk page)