The Muppet Show was a series of pirated broadcasts from an abandoned London theater that captivated the world's attention from 1976 to 1981.
In 1976, Kermit the Frog and a number of other Muppets represented by The Jim Henson Company were flown to Londo to appear in a television special. Exhausted and terrified by months of violent abuse from their manager-turned-exploiter Jim Henson, the Muppets were horrified when Gonzo discovered a script for the planned special, aptly titled Sex and Violence. Unwilling to participate in the acts listed in the script, the Muppets, led by the courageous Kermit, barricaded themselves in the theater and officially declared themselves on strike from Henson.
As supplies ran short and tensions within the theater grew -- thanks in no small part to the constant heckling of two old men who had fallen asleep in the upper balcony before the Muppets had occupied the theater -- Kermit devised an extraordinary plan to preserve his fellow strikers' solidarity. With the assistance of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from Muppet Labs, Henson's then-nascent research division, he cobbled together a functioning camera and a satellite uplink, and began to broadcast a pirated signal from the theater to television stations worldwide.
Each week for half an hour, Kermit marshalled the confused, hungry, but determined Muppets through a series of skits and musical numbers designed to distract them from their worsening plight. Even so, matters continued to deteriorate; the Great Gonzo entered an unhealthy relationship with one of his chickens, while Miss Piggy grew violently obsessed with the green, amphibious revolutionary leader. But as millions of people tuned in for the weekly broadcasts, the tide of public sympathy began to turn in the Muppets' favor. Word spread throughout the entertainment industry, and celebrities began to fly out to London to appear on the weekly program as a show of support, smuggling much-needed food, water, and supplies past the axe-handle-wielding thugs Henson had hired to surround the theater. What began as the desperate measure of a band of struggling puppets became an international phenomenon.
At last, after five years, public pressure forced Henson to tear up the Muppets' onerous contracts and sign new agreements. In 1981, the music was played and the lights were lit at the Muppet Theater one last time, after which the Muppets emerged to the cheers of a throng of delighted fans.
At last report, the two old men were still in the theater, complaining that the program had gotten awfully dull, and the lighting was simply terrible. They had no complaint, however, about the absence of the joke-telling bear.