Amoeblog


Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas

Posted by Miss Ess, December 26, 2008 05:21pm | Post a Comment
Somehow since I wasn't allowed to watch much TV when I was little, I missed ever seeing what has now become my favorite Christmas-themed special: Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.

emmet otter's jug band christmas

I realize it's kinda late, seeing as Christmas was yesterday, but this little movie is so extraordinary and unique, it really could be watched any time, year-round. It was created in 1977 by the much missed Jim Henson, features his imaginative and irresistable puppetry and sets, and was based on a children's book by Russel and Lillian Hoban. The special also features music by the inimitable Paul Williams, including such classics as "When the River Meets the Sea." If you've never seen it before, you can get a great idea of what the production and characters look like by watching this YouTube video which features clips from the special edited together with Emmet and Ma Otter (plus John Denver, who does not appear in any form in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas but who covered the song with the Muppets on their Christmas album -- A Christmas Together!) singing "When the River Meets the Sea":


The storyline focuses on the simple but happy lives that Emmet Otter and his Ma lead in their small home by the river. They have no money because Pa died a few yeaemmet and ma otterrs back, but they remember the good times and still find meaning and joy in life despite the loss. Each have odd jobs to make ends meet: Emmet does carpentry work and Ma is a laundress. They long for more security and both love music. When they hear about a talent contest in a neighboring town, Ma and Emmet both scramble to compete independently of one another. They each want to win the $50 prize in order to buy one another special Christmas presents. But they each have to sacrifice mainstays of one another's job to have a chance at winning: Emmet needs Ma's washtub to make his washtub bass for his Jug Band and Ma needs to sell Emmet's tools to buy fabric for a new costume. They put everything on the line in order to hopefully bring some Christmas happiness to one another. But what if they both lose?

The story is sweet and well-told, but my favorite parts are all the little details put in just for kids (and adults) to enjoy -- the inexplicably and fabemmet otter's jug bandulously expressive faces of each of the puppets; the slide into the river that Ma and Emmet enjoy; the ducks that curiously paddle by as the otters row along the river; Ma and Emmet's fantastic and ultimate talent show competition, The Nightmare band, and their apparent enjoyment of Glam Rock. These charming details are the hallmarks of a Jim Henson production. I see something new and endearing each time I watch this special. It's especially great for kids, I think, with its touching songs, winning message and cool bad guys.

If you enjoyed watching this as a child, you'll be pleased to know (if you didn't already) that there's a special edition DVD of Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas that includes a making-of documentary. It definitely makes Christmas merrier...and post-Christmas too...

Relevant Tags

Paul Williams (4), Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas (2), Muppets (8), Jim Henson (4), Christmas (76), 1980s (50)