The Muppets and John Denver always made a good team and complimented each other well. Both promoted peace and goodwill among humanity as well as a responsibility to the conservation of the earth and natural resources. Rocky Mountain Holiday with John Denver and the Muppets was a one-shot variety special that aired on ABC in 1983. The special itself centered on the Muppets and Denver meeting in Colorado for a weekend of hiking, camping, fishing, singing, and communing with nature. This special may not be for everyone as the musical aspect is pretty heavy-handed. Then again, despite his efforts, John Denver was not known for his superior acting chops. Of course, Denver is seemingly as comfortable in nature as I am in my stretchy pants and t-shirt sitting on my couch. Oddly enough, a troupe made up of mostly animals was not comfortable among the trees and mountains, especially Fozzie! Fozzie had some of the best moments in this special starting with being chased around by a bear, when only seconds before he had reassured that gang that he knew “Bearish” and that they were all safe among the animals in the forest. When he finally lost the other bear, he explained that she spoke Grizzly while he spoke Paddington! Poor Fozzie, his luck only gets worse from there. He grabs snakes thinking they are worms and he picks up a hornet’s nest believing it is a football. In an odd choice, Miss Piggy sits this one out, but Statler and Waldorf are there! Frank Oz was on hand to perform Fozzie and the voice of Animal. Miss Piggy does appear however in flashback sequences. The gang sings a rendition of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” when they look back to Miss Piggy travelling to the mountains with a full entourage and an orchestra because Miss Piggy travels in style and knows how to make an entrance. Miss Piggy did send a flirty note to “Johnny” apologizing for missing out on the trip and asking him not to show the note to Kermit. It is always nice to see Kermit get flustered and jealous of Miss Piggy’s other men. At any rate, this serves as a nice segue to a look back when Miss Piggy went horseback riding with Denver while Kermit thought she was visiting family in Toledo. Who knew John Denver was such a player? The Miss Piggy dynamic is always missed when she has not been utilized in a special. Floyd and Rowlf could have made a lot of digs at her expense, she could have done a lot of whining about not having any of her comforts, and she could have put the moves on Denver just as she did with John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Her larger than life personality and her man crazy lust are an integral part of the Muppets. She could have refused to have traveled in the beat-up pickup truck with everyone else and the “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and the horseback riding sequences could have worked as events that happened that day instead of in the past. However, by having flashback sequences, a deeper friendship complete with a friendship between Denver and the Muppets can be established, just like when my friends get together; we laugh and share stories from the past. Appearances by Statler and Waldorf are peppered throughout the special, but their inclusion is off and makes no sense. They are seen hiding in the brush, watching the Muppets through binoculars and later on mention that they bought a toothpick factory and needed to find a tree. They are still funny, but it makes no sense for two old men to be sneaking around in the woods wearing bowler hats. Robin the Frog, who usually goes underused, was heavily featured in this special. He can be seen riding on Denver’s backpack of gear during the hiking scene. It was during this scene and again in another seen near a clothesline that Robin was performed with a remote-controlled mechanism and a waldo. Robin who is a Frog Scout was very pleased to go on a mountain adventure and to help Denver set up camp, but worried that he did not help much because of his size. Another flashback sequence features Rowlf lazily floating down the river in an inner tube. Part of this scene is a major fail for the Muppets. This is one of the few times that a Muppet appeared on screen in a performance, but did not seem more than a lifeless piece of material. It looks like Henson just plopped a Rowlf puppet on an inner tube with a hat and book, and let it just float away. It could have been a budget and cost issue, but it would have been better to use the radio-control rig or another method similar to when Ma and Emmett Otter sang while rowing down the river in Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. The performance was lacking the Henson perfection. The scene is saved when Gonzo’s nose can be spotted sticking out of the water as it quickly approaches Rowlf and he pops the inner tube. The songs are a nice mix of traditional standards and original songs by Denver. Denver and Kermit sing “Grandma’s Feather Bed” and it is just as entertaining as when Denver performed it on episode 401 of The Muppet Show. Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers from The Muppet Show make an appearance when Denver and the Muppets stumbled upon their shanty while hiking. The jug band sings “Take ‘Em Away” an environmental song urging campers, hikers, and other visitors to pack up their trash and noise pollution and take it away with them. This catchy number could have served as a nice PSA for Earth Day and I am surprised that it has not resurfaced over the years. Denver wrote “Durango Mountain Caballero” specifically for this special and, in my opinion, it is one of his best works. The melody is beautiful and embodies the peaceful communion that exists when looking up at the stars on a clear night. Of course, an evening around the campfire is a perfect setting for Denver and the Muppets to sing “It’s in Every One of Us.” It was also featured on John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. The soundtrack album was released in November 1982. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album for Children in 1984, but lost to Michael Jackson’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Storybook. Some Muppet films and specials contain unintentionally terrifying Muppets. This time, the Muppet is intentionally scary. Denver tells a scary campfire story of a giant man-eating chicken. Later on, Gonzo is dressed up and carrying flowers hoping to run into the giant chicken, even though his main squeeze Camilla is there. When he is warned that it is dangerous he quickly shrugs it off saying that it is a giant man-eating chicken, it does not eat whatever Gonzo is! Steve Whitmire performed the giant man-eating chicken, which looked fun, but uncomfortable. On a somber note, there was a scene in which Denver takes Rowlf up in a bi-plane to try to scare away his hiccups. It was edited out of the 2003 DVD release out of respect due to Denver’s death in a plane crash in 1997. Rocky Mountain Holiday with John Denver and the Muppets is often overlooked and forgotten. In fact, when it was released on DVD, many customers mistook it for the more widely known John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. When I watched it, I could not help but be haunted by how well Henson and Denver worked together as well as all of the future collaborations and possibilities that were never realized due to Henson’s death. I am a John Denver fan and an even bigger Muppet fan, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching this. Outside of being a fan, I think this is a pretty solid performance by everyone involved. My only issues are the absent Miss Piggy and flat floating Rowlf. I give this one 4 out of 5 rubber chickens! See larger image John Denver and the Muppets – Rocky Mountain Holiday New From: $114.95 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.