Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 6

          I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Let's find out what the sixth pick is.

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)

           This Muppet special is one that my family used to watch almost every year. I am pretty sure that we recorded it off of television the year it aired and then later acquired a copy when it was officially released on VHS. I have strong memories of eating Schwan's Christmas Ice Cream Squares while watching this very special. Regardless, the point is that we all watched this enough times that we still make references to it to this day. However, despite how much I enjoyed this growing up, with the decline of VCRs, it has lapsed out of our family rotation. Therefore, I am very excited to watch it for the first time in well over a decade.


           A Muppet Family Christmas opens with the Muppet gang headed to Fozzie's mom's farm house for a relaxing country Christmastime. Fozzie has insisted that they not tell his mom as bears love surprises. Meanwhile, Fozzie's mom was planning a trip to California and was renting the house to Doc and Sprocket (of Fraggle Rock fame). These plans change with the arrival of the Muppets and soon the house is packed for holiday festivities. Kermit is saddened somewhat because Miss Piggy is the only one missing as her photo shoot went long and she won't arrive until the evening.
           Not long after the Muppets arrive carolers are soon heard approaching. To the surprise of everyone it is the Sesame Street gang. After their musical interlude, they are invited for the holiday celebration and the farm house is filled even closer to bursting. The Sesame Street crew puts on a performance of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. News comes over the television that a fierce storm is headed in their direction. This troubles Kermit even more as Miss Piggy still isn't there and is likely caught in the storm. Doc, who has come to regard the Muppets as friends, heads out to see if he can locate Miss Piggy.

Grover as a mouse who is clearly not stirring.
           After Doc begins the search, Kermit's nephew Robin finds Kermit to tell him that he has located a Fraggle hole in the basement of the farmhouse. Kermit and Robin proceed down it to see if they can meet some Fraggles. They do indeed meet Fraggles and soon teach them about Christmas while the Fraggles teach them about their winter celebration. Heading back to the farm house, Kermit and Robin are soon drawn outside to see Miss Piggy arrive with Doc in spectacular fashion. With everyone finally accounted for, they all gather in song and the holidays are complete.

Piggy makes a dramatic appearance.

Final Thoughts

           This special was one of the ones that I was most excited to watch going in to this project. But, while I did still enjoy it, it is a much weaker special than I remembered. Six features in, I am realizing that sparse plots are common with Christmas fare, but the plot to A Muppet Family Christmas is extraordinarily so. Easily half the special is taken up with songs. This is not necessarily a bad thing but when you are working with only 50 minutes it doesn't leave a lot of room for story. That being said the special still has a lot of enjoyable aspects. For one, it is extremely cool to see every Muppet based project that was in production at the time cross over; puppet versions of the Muppet Babies even make a cameo. By far the most fun part of this is seeing the Sesame Street Muppets interact with their non-educational programming counterparts.
           I will definitely watch this again in the future as I do still enjoy it. However, it also serves as a cautionary tale on the power of nostalgia. I hadn't seen it in so long and had such powerful happy memories built up around it that there was no way that it could live up to them. Rare is the thing that given that kind of space and time can. I still give A Muppet Family Christmas a recommendation because, while there was some disappointment for me, it is undeniably charming and, if you go in to it without preconceived notions of what you are getting, I think you will find it enjoyable if slightly mindless holiday viewing. Today ended up a bit shorter but that is what the special gave me to work with. Besides I've had a headache all day so I'm not going to stress out about that too much. Join me tomorrow when I hopefully won't have to grapple with nostalgia lying to me. See you then.

P.S. - Watch out for the icy patch.

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