A sweet little, probably lesser known Jim Henson (Muppets creator) gem – “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.”
One of my favorite Christmas joys is watching and sharing my favorite animated Christmas specials. This month will be dedicated to these wonderful specials and films.
The story is based on the children’s story of the same name which was written by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Jim Henson’s production of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas premiered on HBO on December 17, 1978, as an hour long TV presentation. It’s the charming tale of Emmet Otter and his loving mom’s dream of presenting each other with the perfect Christmas gift. But unfortunately, Emmet and his Mom, a widow, scrape by on the small amount of money she gets from doing laundry and that Emmet gets from doing odd jobs around their home in the town of Frogtown Hollow.
As Christmas approaches, they hear of a talent contest in the nearby town of Waterville and separately decide to enter to afford that perfect present: the guitar Emmet dreams of, and a beautiful piano for Ma. However, in a twist on The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, they must sacrifice each other’s livelihood for the talent contest. Mom hocks Emmet’s tools for dress fabric while Emmet turns Ma’s washtub into a washtub bass for a jug band.
The special received a very positive review in The New York Times on December 15, 1980: “Jim Henson and the Muppets are on a dazzling winning streak these days… Mr. Henson has produced and directed one of the most charming Christmas specials of the last several years.
Emmet rehearses diligently for the contest with his bandmates and mom secretly practices her solo, However, a local band, Rivertown Nightmare Band enters the contest as well. I won’t spoil it, but the Nightmare Band is awesome!
The songs by singer/songwriter Paul Williams are wonderful and Jerry Juhl’s story is simple and sweet. I loved Jim Henson and miss him and his talent for capturing the imagination of not only children but of us all!