Saturday, December 13, 2014

Announcing Christmas Muppetfest 2014!

We've mentioned before that we grew up the 1970s and early 80s.

Emmet Otter shows off his new Christmas Branch.
This means that the Muppets were a major part of our childhood.  Sesame Street, The  Muppet Show, various movies and tv specials of that era featured Jim Henson's wonderful creations.
Mr. Hooper brings Christmas gifts for Ernie & Bert.
The Muppets also appeared in quite a few Christmas specials and movies as well.  We've reviewed some Muppet programming, but haven't featured any of their Yule-themed offerings...until now!

The cast of Sesame Street at the time of Christmas Eve On Sesame Street
During the past two Decembers, we focused on adaptations of A Christmas Carol.  This holiday season we will feature reviews of several of the Muppets' holiday film and tv appearances.

Michael Caine as Scrooge with the Muppets in A Muppet Christmas Carol.
We will start our Muppets Christmas tribute at the beginning...or at least the earliest that's readily available.

The Muppets first came to fame through appearances on variety shows in the 1960s.  They were featured frequently the Ed Sullivan Show appearing more than 20 times, including two of Sullivan's Christmas episodes.

December 24 1967:

Santa, played by Arthur Godfrey, is at the North Pole, getting ready to deliver toys.  He's singing a song called "It's Christmas Tomorrow" when several monsters show up.  Their leader Thudge (Jim Henson) tells Santa they are "a bunch of thugs, crooks and burglers."  They tell Santa they've come to steal toys.

Santa says they can't do that, because he is giving these toys to the monsters.  The would-be thieves are moved to tears by Santa's generosity.  The sketch ends with the monsters joining Mr. Claus for a song.

It's interesting to note that the Muppet monster Gleep would later change color and morph into Grover.

Santa with Gleep
A year later, the Muppets returned for another Christmas musical number.
"Christmas Reindeer" premiered Dec 22 1968.

Dasher (Henson), the boss reindeer says they have a problem -- it's 3 days before Christmas and it hasn't snowed yet.

The other reindeer respond with bad jokes and worse puns about snow and references to Christmas songs.  Finally, one of the reindeer mentions that Indians perform rain dances and suggests they should do a snow dance...

...which makes it rain!

Eventually, we get a happy ending.  The Christmas snow arrives and the reindeer sing a happy song called "It's Christmas Time And We Need Snow." One of the reindeer has a voice that sounds very similar to that of Fozzie Bear, right down to telling silly jokes.  Of course the reindeer is voiced by the great Frank Oz, who would later perform Fozzie.

Immediately after the sketch, Henson makes a rare on-screen appearance.

These sketches can be found two dvds:  one titled A Classic Christmas-The Ed Sullivan Show, and another DVD called Muppets Magic from the Ed Sullivan Show, which is out of print (and VERY expensive).

These two sketches are less than five minutes each, so we won't apply our usual "Candy Cane" ratings in this case.  However, both are well worth seeking out if you're a fan of Henson and the Muppets.

We'll be back soon with more Muppet-themed reviews!

J.A. and RigbyMel

No comments: