Sunday, October 09, 2005


Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

I've been absolutely buried the last few weeks, trying to finish Celestial Empire: Fire Star, but having a nineteen-month old daughter means that I have enforced periods of rest, for which I'm grudgingly grateful. We play around, roll on the floor, drink juice, and stage massive games of hide-and-go seek in our small kitchen, and when it's time to rest for a while, we hit the Tivo or the DVD player and see what we've got to watch. Lately Noggin's new Jack's Big Music Show has been a real hit, but unfortunately only four episodes have been aired in as many weeks, and we've seen each of them many, many times. The same can also be said for the other perennial favorite, Play With Me Sesame, every episode of which we must have seen now at least a dozen times. Luckily for me, the copy of Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas that I ordered a few months back arrived last week, and so we were able to introduce a bit of variety into our afternoon.

Amazon is selling the title at their standard discount, which means you can get it for 8 bucks and change. A bargain, no question. I watched the show a dozen times on HBO as a kid, and I really wanted to have it in Georgia's library for when she's older. She and I just watched it over the weekend, and it really holds up well. Made right before The Muppet Movie, with most of the same cast and crew, it was really a trial run for a feature. Paul Williams on the score, Jerry Juhl on script, all of the regular Muppeteers--Henson, Oz, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, et al--in the cast. The supplemental stuff is great, too, with a full hour of new documentary featurettes, some truly hilarious bloopers with Jerry Nelson and Frank Oz, and a spate of alternate and deleted scenes, by which one can chart the slight differences between this release and the original HBO broadcast (less the absence of Kermit the Frog introducing the story, since he's now been sold off to Disney), the primary difference being that this version is longer by a few minutes, with more verses in most of the songs.

Any child of the seventies and eighties who saw this in their youth owes it to themselves to pick it up, and anyone who hasn't seen it is in for a distinct treat. I've been whistling the tune to "Brothers" nonstop for the last two days, and I don't mind at all. It's served to push out "Miaow, Miaow, Says The Dog Mel" for a few minutes, at least, and that can't be a bad thing at all.

Never saw the Henson adaptation of this, although I've *seen* the DVD/VHS in the stores and been tempted to pick it up. I did have the original book as a kid (and think it managed to work its way into the kids' library--but I'm not sure). I always found it interesting and unusual, as there's a kind of bleak, melancholy lonliness throughout the book. Not in a negative sense, but they're out in the cold, dark winter night, and it *feels* like a cold, dark winter night. There's a tangible sense of isolation at work, and that's unusual for a children's book.
I haven't read the original books, myself, but I think much of that sense of bleak isolation comes through in Henson's adaptation. I was struck in watching it again just how dirt poor virtually all of the characters are, how close to the absolute bottom everyone seems to be (even the "rich" characters, who seem only marginally better off than their poorer neighbors).
Holy crap.... I hadn't thought of this in at least 10 years, but it was easily one of my favorite holiday time-consumers (two weeks off from school in the winter can produce a lot of downtime), right up there with A Christmas Story (which has been effectively ruined by TNT's 24 hour run every Xmas eve). Must go to Amazon and buy now.....
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by 

Blogger. Isn't yours?