The Snerfs, though rarely seen on The Muppet Show are actually a classic type of Muppet creature that had often been featured in sketches of the Ed Sullivan type variety, as a type of Frackle in "The Great Santa Claus Switch" and even in some early episodes of "Sesame Street" Their most notable characteristic is the ability to extend their bodies into a long pole or contract into a small roundish creature. The horns-as noses were added for this appearance. When toy puppets of Rowlf and Kermit were manufactured in the '60's, the ads indicated that a Snerf puppet existed also.)
Both opening acts demonstrate the black background style of puppetry often used by the Muppets where the characters are manipulated by the puppeteers behind them dressed all in black and rendered practically invisible due to the black sets and effective lighting, making the characters appear to move about on their own. The Gawky Birds are among some of the largest puppets in the Henson arsenal (a related type of creature known as The Bossmen, being the largest).
Both the Snerfs and the Gawky Birds were planned to be performed live in a Muppets on Broadway idea Jim Henson had wanted to explore. He finally gets to use both ideas on screen here. Twenty-five years later, his idea finally hits the live stage as the Bossmen, huge characters similar to the Gawky Birds join the grand finale of MuppetFest's Muppet Show Live.
This is an important step in the evolution of Miss Piggy's ascent to superstardom. Even though Miss Piggy has insisted on her being the show's resident female singer, up until now she's mostly just been in the chorus (with the notable exception being her taking the solo from the ranks of the chorus in the first episode).
Her duet with Bruce is the first time she's featured prominently in a serious number (aside from last episode's UK sketch) and she holds her own, even managing to upstage Bruce with her big finish. Two episodes from now, she'll finally get her first solo number (though it's through her forceful insistence).
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