While it may not be as well-known as the North Pole, Whoville, or Bedford Falls, for many no holiday season is complete without a visit to Frogtown Hollow.
That is, of course, the rural home of “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” the TV special created by Muppet master Jim Henson that celebrates its 41st anniversary this week.
Narrated by Kermit the Frog, the program tells the story of two dirt-poor otters, Emmet and Ma, neither of whom has enough money to buy the gift they want to give. (A guitar for Emmet, a piano for Ma.) Known for their musical aptitude, the otters separately learn of a local Christmas talent show.
“’It’s a charming quiet holiday special, it isn’t big, flashy, and filled with pop culture references. It’s like Jim Henson was testing himself to see if he could make a Christmas classic without the typical ‘Muppet Show’ craziness and explosions,” says Joe Hennes, co-owner and editor-in-chief of ToughPigs, the go-to website for -Muppet fans.
Jim Henson loved the way the special turned out. It had a down-home feel without any of the spectacular aspects of The Muppet Show. Unfortunately, none of the big TV networks picked up the show, but HBO recognized a winner, and they made it a part of their holiday line-up for many years.
To make the special, Jim teamed up with songwriter Paul Williams. Together they created jug band music tunes that have a world-wide appeal.
The signature song is “When the River Meets the Sea.” It is a soulful melody, extolling the value of patience to achieve truth, justice, and purpose for life.