The Ultimate Christmas Special

During our first Christmas together as a couple, Carrie introduced me to a movie and unwittingly started a family tradition. Even though it involved the creative genius of Jim Henson and his crew, somehow I missed Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas as a kid. The television special came out in 1977 on HBO–I was 6 years old and programmed to plop down on shag carpets and watch singing muppets. So watching it as an adult for the first time was a unique experience.  I was amazed by the craftsmanship and touched by the characters but there was no meddling nostalgic force painting my perceptions. It was just pure, childlike enjoyment.  We watch it every Christmas now and I’m always excited to dig it out of the bottom of the entertainment center each December.

 Emmet and Ma Otter live in Frogtown Hollow and they survive by performing odd jobs in the community. There is a bleak back story here but Emmet and his mother are die-hard optimists and their singing and compassion outweigh the negativity that surrounds them.  There are sweet, musical interludes that need to be heard and seen to fully appreciate and no blog musings will do them justice.  Written by the brilliant Paul Williams, the songs are both touching and whimsical, deep yet accessible, and catchy enough to surface in your mind at odd times between Christmas seasons.  And matching the achievement of the music are the wonderfully designed creatures, the magnificently detailed miniature sets, the clever and funny writing, and the timeless theme of giving when there’s barely anything to give.  As a bonus feature there are outtakes, and let me tell you: muppet bloopers are hilarious.

This DVD would be a nice stocking stuffer for just about anyone. I can’t wait for my son to get old enough to learn this story and sing these songs and be as moved as I have been. Below is a link to Emmet and some of his pals rehearsing for Frogtown Hollow’s Talent Show. Happy Holidays!

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