The MuppetCast is the original podcast dedicated to the work of Jim Henson and the Muppets. Its mission is to present weekly Muppet news, entertainment, and information to fans of Jim Henson and the Muppets worldwide.
“It’s in the singing of a street-corner choir, it’s going home and getting warm by the fire, it’s true wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas…”
The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to spend it than with all your favorite Muppet movies, TV specials, records, and more? There’s so much to enjoy! I don’t know about you, but every year I try to watch “everything”, and every year it seems like I miss something. Once January comes around, and the decorations go away, I remember, Omigosh! I totally forgot to watch [insert name of thing here].
So in an effort to combat my own forgetfulness – and maybe yours too – let’s put together a list of everything you should watch/listen to this holiday season from the Muppets. And just so we’re clear: this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of everything ever produced by Jim Henson & company for the holiday season. There’s a different website for that. It’s called The Muppet Wiki, and it’s amazing.
But just for us, let’s see what needs to be seen (and heard) this year.
Muppet Christmas Movies
There aren’t many Muppet feature-length Christmas movies, and even fewer which were released in theaters. Two of these are made-for-TV movies, but they still get counted here.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie
Letters to Santa
You Must See: Muppet Christmas Carol is the best, if you ask most Muppet fans. It feels the most like a Jim Henson-made Muppet production, possibly because it was the first major production undertaken after his death, and the fact that it was directed by his son, Brian Henson.
You Can Skip: Letters to Santa is the most recent Muppet Christmas “movie”, and as much as I want to love it, I don’t. What’s interesting is that the music for both Muppet Christmas Carol and Letters to Santa were written by the same person, Paul Williams, yet one set of songs connects with me so deeply, and another almost completely misses the mark.
Muppet TV Specials
This is where things start to get a little tricky. These are productions that aired on TV (not screened in theaters), have a shorter running time than a feature-length film, and are not counted as a regular episode of any Muppet TV series.
Muppet Family Christmas
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas
A Special Sesame Street Christmas
Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together
The Christmas Toy
The Great Santa Claus Switch
Elmo’s Christmas Countdown
Elmo Saves Christmas
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree
You Must See: Muppet Family Christmas, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, and Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. All 3 are essential viewing for Muppet fans of any age.
Muppet Family Christmas is arguably the most Muppet-y thing ever created, let alone the Muppet-iest Christmas production. It includes nearly the entire cast of characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and even Fraggle Rock, all singing Christmas carols in one huge living room. Need I say more?
You absolutely must watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street if you grew up watching Sesame in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a wonderful walk down memory lane, and attempts to solve one of the great Santa Claus mysteries with Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, Oscar, Mr. Hooper, and even Kermit the Frog.
Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas is a touching take on the classic Gift of the Magi story, told with woodland creatures created by Henson solely for this production. The music was written by Paul Williams (see a trend?). After just one viewing this will become part of your yearly Christmas rotation.
You Can Skip: Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree is a half-hour special starring a singing Robert Downy Jr, based on a children’s book of the same name. And it’s just…weird.
Muppet TV Episodes
Moving right along, these are Christmas/Holiday productions that appear as part of a Muppet series. Some of these are difficult to find, or at least aren’t streaming online anymore, unfortunately. But your efforts in searching them out will be greatly rewarded!
Fraggle Rock: The Bells of Fraggle Rock (Season 3, Episode 1)
Furchester Hotel: A Furchester Christmas (Season 2, Episode 16)
Bear in the Big Blue House: A Berry Bear Christmas (Season 3, Episodes 25 & 26)
Dinosaurs: Refrigerator Day (Season 2, Episode 5)
The Muppets: Single All the Way (Season 1, Episode 10)
You Must See: The Bells of Fraggle Rock tells the “Fraggle” equivalent of a holiday story, in which Gobo goes off to find the Great Bell of Fraggle Rock. Cantus the Minstrel (performed by Jim Henson) appears as an unlikely guide, and the Fraggles find the true meaning of the holiday season within themselves. That sounds like something you’d read on the back of the VHS box, doesn’t it? But I really wrote it myself, just now.
You Can Skip: Single All the Way. Honestly, I haven’t seen Berry Bear Christmas or Furchester Christmas to rate them, but most of The Muppets’ ABC series wasn’t incredibly “Muppetational”, so this gets the bottom spot. And incidentally, you need to watch the Refrigerator Day episode of Dinosaurs…Hilarious!
Music has been an essential ingredient in nearly everything the Muppets have ever done, so naturally there are some great Christmas collections out there. Too many, in fact, to list here (psssst, that’s what The Muppet Wiki is for). Here are several highlights, some albums that make into my must-listen list every year.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Soundtrack)
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (Soundtrack)
John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together
Merry Christmas from Sesame Street
A Green and Red Christmas
Letters to Santa (Soundtrack)
Keep Christmas With You (Featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
Bob! From Sesame Street: Christmas Sing Along
Elmo Saves Christmas: Holiday Favorites
You Must Listen To: Almost all of them.
John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together is just about the most heartwarming Muppet Christmas collection you’ll ever hear. It includes “The 12 Days of Christmas” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, both of which usually make it onto radio holiday playlists.
Merry Christmas from Sesame Street will feed the nostalgic kid in you. Must like Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (which also has an excellent soundtrack), you’ll love hearing your Sesame pals sing the Christmas hits as only they can.
A Green and Red Christmas isn’t necessarily at the top of every Muppet fan’s list, but it’s a Grammy Award-winning album and features much of the modern-day Muppet cast of performers voicing the characters. Fans of all ages can appreciate the humor and music in this collection.
Well…maybe eventually they do. But until then, JD Hansel joins me for a riveting episode of The Backstage Podcast. We discuss life, maturity, immaturity, philosophy, Muppets, and of course, Sam Harris.
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