Review

  • "A Muppet Family Christmas" is not only the greatest Muppet Christmas TV special ever made, but it is also the greatest Muppet TV special bar none. Some may even consider it the greatest Christmas TV special ever made.

    "A Muppet Family Christmas" is so delightful to watch that you may not find yourself caring that the special really doesn't have a plot. Most of the adult Muppets (i.e. the ones from "The Muppet Show" (1976-1981)) accompany Fozzie Bear to his mother's country house, and they spend the rest of the special settling in and getting ready for Christmas.

    That's pretty much the extent of the story. What makes this special . . . well . . . special is when more Muppets appear and crowd the house. First, there are most of the "Sesame Street" Muppets who come a-caroling, only to later make themselves at home.

    Later, the Fraggles from "Fraggle Rock" appear below Ma Bear's house. Oh yeah, and those Muppet fans who are relatively unfamiliar with "Fraggle Rock" may not notice that the human who intended to rent Ma Bear's house for the holiday is none other than Doc (Gerard Parkes), who brought his dog Sprocket with him.

    Muppet fans who are familiar with all three Muppet universes (or at least two) will find some surprising poignancy in these different characters interacting. I especially treasured scenes like Bert & Ernie engaging in "small talk" with Doc, or the Swedish Chef trying in vain to cook Big Bird only to reconsider after receiving a special gift. I also laughed when Rowlf and Sprocket speaking "dog".

    To fully enjoy this special, it helps if you know most of the Muppet characters beforehand, which is a prerequisite almost all children of the 1970's and 1980's fulfilled effortlessly. I imagine children born after 1990 will know the "Sesame Street" characters, but not the others as much. Undoubtedly, they will wonder why Elmo didn't get more screen time.

    "A Muppet Family Christmas" was actually one of Jim Henson's favorite specials on which he worked, and was even described by Henson biographer Brian Jay Jones as "one of (Henson's) finest, and most under-appreciated, productions". It's under-appreciated for a good reason: it has rarely been seen on TV in years, and is out of print on VHS and DVD.

    Also because of music royalty issues, and because the "Muppet Show" Muppets are owned by Disney, the "Sesame Street" Muppets are owned by Sesame Workshop, and "Fraggle Rock" is owned by HIT Entertainment, the best chances of seeing this special are unfortunately by spending $50+ on a DVD copy on eBay or Amazon.

    A special like this one, which Muppet fans love and some have even worn out their old VHS copy they taped from TV, deserves to be seen perennially, and obtaining a copy of it should not be difficult. In fact, there is a Facebook group dedicated to getting the special the DVD release it deserves, and the page is already "liked" by several cult followers (Campaign for Eventual "Muppet Family Christmas" DVD Release).

    This special is very much like the holiday season: craziness and chaos abound, but it is nothing that good company, song, and the comfort of love and companionship can't make worthwhile. Just like the holiday season is one to which people look forward, they may have to wait longer to own a copy of this movie. However, if you find yourself lucky enough to get your hands on an uncut copy, consider yourself lucky.