Forty-one years after it debuted on Canadian television, and forty years after it debuted on US television, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is finally making it to the big screen. On December 10 and 16, select theaters will be playing this homespun Christmas special (Click here to see if it will be playing in your area.) It will be playing as a double feature with “The Bells of Fraggle Rock, ” a holiday episode of the popular children’s show Fraggle Rock. The two Christmas specials are being introduced to a new generation under the title Jim Henson’s Holiday Special, and will include a new featurette Memories of the Jug-Band, with Cheryl Henson and a surprise celebrity guest. This reporter is predicting the surprise celebrity guest will be a certain green-skinned reporter turned theater manager, none other than Kermit the Frog.
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is based on the children’s book by Russell and Lillian Hoban, and features music composed by long-time Muppets friend Paul Williams (Virgil in Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Swan [and composer] in Phantom of the Paradise). The Jug-Band Christmas is a pleasing blend of Walt Kelly’s Pogo and O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi. Ma Otter, an impoverished widow, wants to provide her son Emmet with a proper Christmas. Young Emmet wants to do the same for his hardworking mother. Jerry Nelson, the voice of Count von Count in Sesame Street, provides the voice of Emmet Otter. Marilyn Sokol (Doris in Crocodile Dundee II, Linda in The Goodbye Girl) voiced Ma Otter. Jim Henson himself voices Kermit the Frog, who serves as the film’s announcer.
In a marketing coincidence as surprising as E-ticket rides at Disneyland ending up in gift shops, the soundtrack to Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas has, after forty years, also finally been released. It is available as a CD or digitally, through Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music. You can hear some of the songs here at SCIFI.radio during Christmastime. The album includes a bonus song that was cut from the film, Born in a Trunk.
You may have seen this bloopers reel from Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas making the rounds on social media, Parents, cover your children’s ears if you don’t want them to hear Frank Oz cussing. Despite escaping props, the puppeteers remain perfectly in character.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.