Emmet Otter (Jerry Nelson) and his mother Alice (Marilyn Sokol) live on the river in the town of Frogtown Hollow. They are very poor and rely on odd jobs and doing other people's laundry to get by. Emmet uses his late father's tools to make repairs, while Alice sells baked goods and does laundry in her washtub. But they love each other and love to sing.
|Emmet & Alice sing "The One Bathing Suit."|
The otters observe a group of toughs known as the Riverbottom Gang. They're led by a bear named Chuck (Frank Oz) and they wreck havoc in the music shop.
|The Riverbottom Gang, led by Chuck the Bear.|
|Charlie, Harvey, Emmet & Wendell talk about forming a jug-band|
|Alice Otter discusses the upcoming talent show with her friend Hetty Muskrat (Eren Ozker).|
|"Carrots, the Dancing Horse," one of less successful acts in the talent show.|
|Alice sings "Our World" at the talent contest.|
|The Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug-Band performs "Brothers."|
The talent show seems to be over, but a last-second entry arrives--the Riverbottom Gang, performing as a rock band called The Nightmare.
|Riverbottom Nightmare Band!|
Will Emmet's band or Alice win the contest? How will they survive without their washtub and tool chest?
J.A. Morris says:
It's very difficult to be objective about Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. I first saw it when aired on ABC in 1980 and I've been a big fan ever since.
|The band rehearses the song "Barbecue."|
|Emmet brings home the "Christmas Branch."|
|Emmet uses his tool chest to rebuild a fence.|
Nelson also performs Stanley Weasel, villainous guitarist for the Nightmare band, who is as nasty as Emmet is nice. It's a tribute to Nelson that it took me years of viewing before I noticed both characters were voiced by the same person.
Marilyn Sokol is also great as the voice of Emmet's mother Alice.
Her lovely singing voice on "Where The River Meets The Sea" and "Our World" has brought tears to my eyes on just about every viewing of this special. Sokol is a highly accomplished Broadway and TV veteran and has won an Emmy and an Obie award for her work in other shows.
|J.A. Morris meets Emmet & his mother at the Smithsonian.|
|Chuck on stage.|
|Alice meets Harrison Fox (Henson), Mayor of Waterville and MC of the talent show.|
J.A. Morris' rating:
4 candy canes!
I also find it impossible to be objective about this special. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas is one of my all-time favorite holiday programs. I love it for many reasons - the wonderful puppeteering (which allowed the Henson workshop to practice and develop techniques they would go on to utilize in various feature length Muppet movies), the beautifully designed naturalistic sets, and the sweet story, for starters.
|The Waterville Town Hall all ready for the Christmas Eve talent contest|
|Here's the cover of the original book (I still have my battered and be-stickered copy).|
|The Riverbottom Nightmare Band wails out their number during the contest.|
|Kermit gets harassed by the Riverbottom Gang at the beginning of the original version of the special.|
|Kermit would like to be restored to the home video releases of the special, please!|
|Harvey Beaver plays washboard and kazoo!|
|Goofy dancing rabbits in the talent show.|
Sadly, when I mention Emmet Otter to most people, they stare at me blankly. That is a shame since this special is utterly charming and deserves to be much better known, with or without the inclusion of Kermit.
|RigbyMel has a moment with Emmet and Alice Otter in a special exhibit at the Smithsonian during 2006.|
4 candy canes!!!!