Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

emmet otter jug band christmas dvd cover review
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nice story, fun Muppets

The Gift of the Magi story has been done a lot

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Studio:  Jim Henson Associates

Genre(s):  Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 4, 1977

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

emmet otters jug band christmas river mother

Emmet…living on the river pretty much sucks

Emmet Otter wants this Christmas to be special.  Since his father died, he and his mother have struggled to get by.  When Emmet and his friends learn about a Christmas Eve talent competition, Emmet decides to take a risk and enter the competition to get his mother a piano.  What Emmet doesn’t know is that Emmet’s mother is also taking a risk and entering the contest to buy him a guitar.  Will Emmet or his mother win and will Christmas be saved?  Plus, what is rumbling coming from Riverbottom and what could it mean for the competition?

Directed by Jim Henson, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas was made for HBO with music by Paul Williams.  It was based on a children’s story by Russell Hoban and his wife Lilian in 1969.  The first airings of the show had Kermit the Frog intro the story, but when Kermit became tied up in legal issues, the intro was dropped.  The show has since been aired on Nickelodeon regularly during the holiday season.  It was nominated for four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children’s Program, Outstanding Individual Achievement—Children’s Programming (Costume Design), Outstanding Individual Achievement—Children’s Programming (Song “When River Meets the Sea”), and Outstanding Individual Achievement—Children’s Programming (Lightning).

emmet otters jug band christmas river bottom gang chuck stoat hungry

Don’t mess with the Lord of Hell!

There is a lot of nostalgia for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. The special is just nice and wholesome…and pretty different than a classic Muppets episode.  I did not have cable growing up so I have no nostalgia for the special, but it makes me wish I had grown up with it.

The story is based on O. Henry’s 1906 classic The Gift of the Magi with Emmet sacrificing his mother’s washtub to win the contest and his mother sacrificing Emmet’s toolbox to win.  Both entries kind of cancel each other out when a bad rock band called The Riverbottom Nightmare Band enters the race.  Of course Emmet and his mother are so kind and nice that they don’t have to worry about realizing the real meaning of the holiday and eventually are rewarded with real work.  It is a bit weird that they sacrificed each other’s things instead of their own prized possessions…

emmet otters jug band christmas performance

Oh yeah…let’s have a hoedown!

Some of the exterior stuff is really great, especially when you consider that there isn’t any computer animated stuff.  Emmet and his friends are all great looking, and the evil Nightmare Band are typical scowling evil Muppets.  It is a bit problematic however that the actors who do the standard “Muppets” also do the voices here (and multiple voices at that).  It is weird to have something like Rolf’s voice coming out of another Muppet, even if it is tweaked a bit.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a fun holiday special.  The story is nice and the visuals are good.  The special definitely holds up among some of the best holiday shows you can find for the season.  Go down to the river and have Christmas with Emmet (if nothing else it will make you feel better about how your life is).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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