It is once again time for my annual crusade to educate and inform the public about the wonder and joy that is Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.
There are many Holiday TV classics to enjoy this time of year. My absolute favorite is Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. This Jim Henson-produced treasure has somehow managed to fly very much under the radar since its premiere on December 17, 1978 o n HBO (which, at the time, we called “Home Box,” and there was, in fact, a big unsightly box that went on your TV and a button on that box which one pushed to access “Home Box”).
Clocking in at 50 minutes (the original version was longer, Kermit the Frog introduces and narrates the story, but legal access to Kermit was denied by Disney for the DVD), the Christmas special is based on the children’s book of the same name by Russel Hoban. The program has several wonderful original songs, written by Paul Williams, who also did the music for The Muppet Movie (the band My Morning Jacket did a nice cover of one of the Emmet Otter songs for Muppets: The Green Album). Incidentally, Paul Williams can recently be found playing the part of “The Butcher” in Baby Driver.
The story centers on Emmet and Ma Otter, who struggle to make ends meet since the passing of Pa Otter. Emmet and Ma, who are talented musicians, hear of the Christmas Talent Show in nearby Waterville. Each one secretly opts to enter the contest to vie for the $50 prize so they can buy the other a proper Christmas present. However, in a Gift of the Magi twist, each one must sacrifice the other’s cherished belonging (Emmet must put a hole in Ma’s washtub to make a washtub bass, and Ma has to sell Emmet’s tool chest to get fabric for a presentable dress) in order to participate in the contest. Emmet joins Wendell Porcupine, Harvey Beaver, and Charlie Muskrat as the Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band, and Mom sings solo. To find out what happens you will have to borrow the DVD!!
The show is funny, touching, and all-around marvelous (I am so sure that you will enjoy it, I am offering a money back guarantee).
The DVD also includes a “making of” documentary, and outtakes, both of which are well worth watching. The documentary is quite fascinating, seeing all the effort that went into the production and how very hard they worked to make Emmet Otter’s world as lifelike as it is. One of the outtakes hilariously shows several of the 200+ takes they had to film in order to get a drum to roll out of the music store in just the right way, Frank Oz’s banter during this scene is priceless.
With only a few weeks until Christmas, and several copies of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas on the shelf, now is the time to reserve your copy!