Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thanks Jim Henson !

Last week I blogged about one of my all-time favorite Christmas specials - "A Charlie Brown Christmas". In that blog, I mentioned that there were two other specials (in addition to "Charlie") that rank as my top 3. So here we go with another of them... "Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas"!

Emmett Otter is one of the many amazing creations of Jim Henson (who left us too soon). If you've seen it, I'll go out on a limb and guess that you probably had HBO back in the early days of cable TV. I know that's how I came across it...and everyone I've ever known who has seen it saw it on HBO too. For as good as this special is, it never really became mainstream - for whatever reason. But I can say that I've never met anyone who has seen it and NOT loved it! My sister Christine and I probably watched "Emmett Otter" together every Christmas season till the time we both moved out of my parents' house. It's a Christmas tradition for me...and one I hope to pass on to my two little girls!

"Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas" is the timeless story of young Emmett and his Ma. Emmett's Pa (a snake oil salesman!) had passed years earlier. Emmett and Ma don't have much. They live very modestly. Ma makes money from selling pies and doing laundry. Emmett takes on odd jobs whenever he can find them using his Pa's old tool chest. As Christmas approaches, both Emmett and Ma want to buy something special for each other...but neither of them has much money. Without the other knowing, they each enter a talent contest in hopes of winning the money to buy that special gift. "Emmett Otter" is about sacrifice and taking chances. I know it's a cliche', but this special is a real heartwarmer. It's loaded with memorable songs sung by Emmett, Ma, and of course Emmett's Jugband. There's plenty of humor to be found too - as there is in all Jim Henson's work. Considering it was produced in 1977, there's some pretty impressive "Muppetting" going on in this special - including a guest spot by Kermit riding a bike...and Emmett and Ma rowing a boat in actual water. And since it was produced in 1977, of course there's some NOT so good muppetting too! - But that's OK - it all adds up to one really great family-friendly Christmas special!

You're not likely to come across "Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas" on TV - but lucky for us it IS available on DVD. Do yourself a favor and pick it up this weekend!

I'll get to the other Christmas special in my "BIG 3" before Christmas...but that's a blog for another day!


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