Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In order to keep up with consumer demand, The Middle Room is starting a new series on Christmas specials. Rather than astound you with descriptions of those specials you already watch five times in December, we thought we would instead consider exceptional specials you've never seen or, perhaps, haven't seen in a long time.
Sure, we love "It's Christmas, Charlie Brown" and "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" as much as the next conglomerate of geeks, but there are benefits to exploring less traveled paths.
The first installment will not be the only time we discuss the Muppets in this series, but we consider it the best of the Muppet specials. Occurring in the home of Fozzie's mother, A Muppet Family Christmas is fundamentally the essence of whimsy and joy condensed into a hour-long television special.
Like Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, A Muppet Family Christmas is a massive crossover event, incorporating the casts of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. As any geek knows, the success of any crossover is primarily a factor of how well the characters are portrayed. Despite the massive cast, the integrity of the characters is consistently maintained. The attention to detail is as stunning as the special is clever.
From Sprocket and Rowlf's untranslated discussion to the brilliantly arranged medley at the end, this is a work of astonishing care. But the high point of the special is a showdown of sorts between the Swedish Chef and Big Bird that plays out precisely the way it should.
Various versions of this special have been made available on DVD, though you'll be hard pressed to find one that hasn't been truncated due to copyright issues. Fortunately, there exists a solution.