Friday, Dec 23, 2011
by Ned Wazowski
Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas, 1977
Muppets and Christmas - what could be better?
Kermit and piggy may be the most famous Muppets, but little Emmet Otter has got to be the most adorable (just watch him play the washtub bass and try not to be charmed). The story of Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas, based on the children's book by Russell Hoban (who wrote Bread and Jam for Frances), is a heart-warming tale illustrating that it really is the thought that counts, with a nod to the classic take The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry.
This pre-Muppet Movie special served as a testing ground for the puppetry techniques that Jim Henson Studios would later use for their full-length features. Full-sized, three-dimensional "platformed" sets were constructed and elaborately dressed, really bring Frogtown Hollow to life. Songs were composed by Paul Williams (who worked with Henson on The Muppet Show and wrote the songs for The Muppet Movie), and Jerry Nelson, known for playing Kermit's nephew Robin, performed Emmet Otter, with Frank Oz puppeteering and Marilyn Sokol providing the voice of Ma Otter.
The special makes you wish Emmet's jug-band had released a full album, or that The Riverbottom Nightmare Band would go on tour.
Ma: 'Bout all I got left is a sense of humor and a washtub.
Emmet: Well, at least there ain't no hole in the washtub.