TV Club: The Muppets reaches a perfect seriocomic balance in an episode all about Gonzo

Ever since debuting as a background Frackle (that’s Henson-speak for anonymous monster) on The Great Santa Claus Switch back in 1970, Gonzo has slowly grown into one of the most complex characters in the Muppets’ ranks. Although The Muppet Show presented him as a daredevil from the very beginning, he had a strange sense of defeatism about him in season one, largely due to his downcast eyes and low energy. Whenever one of his elaborate stunts failed (which was always), he looked disappointed in himself. Jim Henson picked up on this and, worrying Gonzo’s sheepishness was too similar to Fozzie Bear’s, asked puppeteer Dave Goelz to give the little guy some more pep. Goelz more than rose up to the task, outfitting the Muppet with mechanical eyelids that allowed expressions of surprise and excitement as well as moroseness. He then threw in an attraction to chickens, and …

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