31 SPOOPY JAMS
Day One: “Welcome to My Nightmare” - Alice Cooper, The Muppet Show, 1978
By the third season of The Muppet Show, Jim Henson was desperate to get out from under the shadow of Sesame Street and prove he wasn’t strictly a children’s entertainer. While the Muppets certainly embodied “family entertainment” in the best sense, wherein there really is something for all ages, Henson decided he really needed to shock people to show what he could do. To that end, he built an entire episode around one of the most controversial entertainers of the decade.
The significance of this is probably somewhat lost on a generation that’s grown up with Alice Cooper being a dadrock staple, but the mainstream audience of the time still saw him as a genuine threat to decency, a sick freak out to corrupt their children. But his guest spot proved that Alice’s grand theatrics and the Muppets’ cheerful brand of anarchy were a match made in heaven (or, y’know, the other place).
The episode gets even weirder and more experimental than The Muppet Show usually does, with surreal sketches like “Toothache” and Alice persistently trying to get the Muppets to sell their souls to his “boss”. Just to make sure things don’t get too dark, it has Robin singing “Over the Rainbow”, one of the sweetest, most wholesome moments the show ever did. But, if anything, this beacon of tranquility just serves to make everything around it seem all the more twisted.
It’s my favorite episode of The Muppet Show, which pretty much makes it one of my favorite half-hours of television ever. You can watch the whole thing here, and I highly recommend you do. What’ll it cost? Not a penny…JUST YOUR SOUL.