It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of The Muppets. In fact, it’s safe to say that if it has the Jim Henson stamp on it then I’ll buy it, wear it, eat it or watch it. I can’t say for sure where my love of Kermit and co. stems from, but I’d like to think it’s got a lot to do with a certain Christmas special.
Every year my sister and I would wake up on Christmas morning around 4:30 a.m., because that’s when all the best TV shows were on. Once our parents woke up, we’d shoot off downstairs to open presents, but before then we’d sit on our beds with the lights out watching Christmas special after Christmas special. None were more important to us though than A Muppet Family Christmas.
Filmed in Toronto and originally screening on ABC in 1987, A Muppet Family Christmas brought together all of Henson’s most beloved characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock for a festively fun filled TV special. Heck, Uncle Jim himself even has a cameo towards the end, washing the dishes after the great Muppet feast*
*No Muppets were eaten during this feast.
The premise of A Muppet Family Christmas was simple enough. Fozzy invites his friends for a good old fashioned family Christmas at his mother’s cabin, completely unaware that she’d booked herself a dream trip to Malibu. Spoiling any chance she had of sun, sea and sand, Mrs. Bear – known as Emily – reluctantly agrees to have everyone stay over, much to the chagrin of Doc and Sprocket who were renting the cabin from her in her absence.
Slowly, more and more Muppets arrive, including a gang of carol singers from Sesame Street. But, when a blizzard hits they are forced to seek refuge in the cabin, further disrupting the peaceful retreat Doc had planned for himself and his dog
Combining the various Muppet franchises makes for some unforgettable moments, from Fozzy and Elmo lighting the tree to Bert and Ernie irritating Doc with the Sesame version of small talk. There’s also sheer slapstick moments, like when Swedish Chef tries to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner, mixing the zany Muppet Show humor with the sweetness of the more kiddy-centric Sesame Street. We were even introduced to new characters, such as Fozzy’s wisecracking new buddy, the Snowman, and a Christmas Turkey that takes a shine to Gonzo’s girlfriend, who’s a chicken. Because, well, Muppets.
The chaos soon turns itself around when everyone fears Miss Piggy may be lost in the snow. She’s spent much of the special being her typical Diva self, but as she finally tries to make it to her beloved frog all looks lost. In typical Muppet fashion, though, everyone pulls together, lending a shoulder for Kermit to lean on, when all seems lost, and reuniting him with his one true love.
Looking back I think that’s exactly why I love A Muppet Family Christmas so much. Not just because it’s a Muppet film, but because it proves deep down it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, the only thing that matters at Christmas is family – however you define it – and this crazy lot are all just that, one big Muppet family.