as: “Very Special Guest Star Tom Wopat”
We’re not gonna lie: we dig the Muppets almost as much as we dig Tom Wopat. They’re basically the most wonderful of all human creations; Watch anything Muppet related and you’re guaranteed to enjoy the entire experience—some of their efforts are not as excellent as others, but there’s not an out and out dud in the bunch. And, The Muppet Show is legitimately one of the Top Five all-time greatest television programs. All-time.
One small addition is all it would take to put The Muppet Show at Number One: Tom Wopat.
The Wopat Show
From September 1976 to March 1981, The Muppet Show produced 120 episodes of brilliant comedy television. Each episode featured a “Very Special Guest Star”—the first (in the 1974 pilot episode) was Mia Farrow; the last was Marty Feldman of Young Frankenstein fame. In between were a mixed bag of actors, musicians, athletes, and other celebrities—from Julie Andrews to Liberace to Jonathan Winters.
The Dukes of Hazzard began in January of 1979, a prime overlapping time with The Muppet Show’s run. Dukes was a very popular program, and its two leads (Wopat and John Schneider) were among the most recognizable stars on TV. Both actors were also musicians as well as actors. Ergo, they’re a perfect one-two punch for a turn as double guest-hosts of The Muppet Show.
“The Muppets do The Dukes of Hazzard” is one of the best ideas ever, if we do say so ourselves. Wopat and Schneider would play themselves, “guest starring” on “The Pigs of Hazzard”. Miss Piggy would play Daisy Duke (or Daisy Pig); Link Hogthrob and Dr. Julius Strangepork from “Pigs in Space” would play Bo and Luke Pig, respectively; the Boss Hogg part, called the Hogg Boss, would be played by a new Muppet similar to the Spa’am character that later appeared, much to the chagrin of Hormel Foods, in Muppet Treasure Island; Sherriff Roscoe Pig Coltrane would be played by Sweetums.
After a brief, Muppetized spoof of The Dukes of Hazzard theme song, Wopat and Schneider would be enjoying a cold beverage at The Boar’s Nest where, just like on Dukes, Daisy/Piggy is a waitress. Miss Piggy is chatting up the guest stars, who are seated a booth. Roaring engines, followed by screeching tires, would be heard from outside, and Bo and Luke Pig would come dashing in. They make a beeline for the booth and sit down opposite Wopat and Schneider. “What in the world is going on?” Piggy asks.
Before the Pig Boys can reply, Hogg Boss and Roscoe run into the bar, shouting. “Where are you at, you rascals?” Sweetums/Roscoe bellows. “Come on out, Pigs, you can’t hide from the long arm of the law!”
Roscoe and Hogg Boss stop in front of the booth, astounded. “Oh my,” grunts Hogg Boss, “there are two of them?” He and Roscoe are genuinely confused—they can’t tell the Pigs of Hazzard and the Dukes of Hazzard apart. This leads to a series of traditionally Muppetastic jokes, riffing on the Pigs/Dukes’ adversaries inability to distinguish between the pig Muppets and the real live humans.
Finally, Hogg Boss and Roscoe decide to arrest all four of them. Miss Piggy takes both of them out with a double karate chop, and Wopat, Schneider, and the Pigs Boys flee the bar. An engine roars to life outside, followed by squealing tires. The front of the Pigs of Hazzards’ bright orange hot rod, “The Generally Speaking”, crashes through the wall of the bar and into frame.
“Maybe you should drive,” Bo Pig says to Wopat.