The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970)This is the first Muppet holiday special made and not many folks seem to know about it. Even I haven't seen this special. The Great Santa Claus Switch was created by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl as a TV special. Ed Sullivan produced and narrated it. According to MuppetWiki, a villain named Cosmo Scam plots to kidnap Santa and take his place. Cosmo also plans to abduct the elves and replace them with his own workers (which includes some nifty looking Frackles).
* Psssssst! The Great Santa Claus Switch can be found on Youtube.com. Just type in the title and it pops up as a 6 part video series.
|Some of Jim Henson's Frackle doodles.|
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas is about Emmet Otter and his mother Alice. Each tries to find a way to buy a Christmas gift for the other. In the end, they both enter the local talent contest which has a winning prize of $50. Emmet performs with his buddies in the Frogtown Jubilee Jug Band, and Alice sings solo.
* Jim Henson always wanted to be in a rock band and therefore lived vicariously through the villains, Riverbottom Nightmare Band. (I can't recall where I learned this, but perhaps it was from the extra features on the DVD.)
John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)Admittedly, I don't recall seeing all of this, even though it is one of the more popular Muppet specials. Perhaps I never gave it much thought in the past because John Denver never really appealed to me. This special was based off of the Christmas album of the same name. The Muppets and Denver combined to perform multiple holiday songs and sketches. From this mix, we get the original Muppet cover of the "12 Days of Christmas."
A Christmas Toy (1986)The Jones' toys come to life when no one is around, and every year on Christmas Eve, the toys prepare to welcome new toys into the playroom. One toy in particular, Rugby Tiger, attempts to get under the Christmas tree as a gift once again.
* Netflix currently has A Christmas Toy streaming for free right now, so I plan on checking it out before Christmas.
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Perhaps one of the biggest Muppet specials ever, A Muppet Family Christmas combines the casts of the Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. It is also the last Christmas special Jim Henson ever worked on. In a nod to all of his creations, Henson even makes a guest appearance at the end, noting to the dog Sprocket how nice it is to see them all together.
* This special was released on DVD in 2001. Unfortunately, A Muppet Family Christmas is difficult to find and it is obviously highly desired due to its extreme prices (up to $79.99!) on e-Bay.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)Jim Henson died in 1990. Despite this, I believe Brian Henson and the other fine folks who worked on The Muppet Christmas Carol did a beautiful job maintaining Jim's style. This was the fourth full-length feature film starring the Muppets. Much like the other full-length Muppet movies, the cast was a combination of Muppets and humans. The main role of Ebenezer Scrooge was played by actor Michael Caine rather than one of the Muppets.
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)I don't recall seeing this one at all. According to various summaries, the movie is a Muppet-like take on It's a Wonderful Life. The Muppet Theater is going to be lost to a greedy banker who intends on turning it into a nightclub. Fozzie loses the loan money and Kermit loses hope, thus taking on a the role similar to the character of George Bailey.
A Muppets Christmas: Letter to Santa (2008)In this television special, the Muppets find a few children's letters that need to get to Santa Claus, thus they take a journey to the North Pole. I did not watch this all the way through when it aired because it was so disappointing. It felt cheap and skeevy. There were too many celebrities and the humor was horrible. I remember thinking that kids would not get it and adults would not watch it. The Muppets were struggling, and the Walt Disney Company (who had taken them over in 2004) were doing a horrible job. Mind you, I was in my "Disney has become a money-grubbing company and just ruins everything wonderful" phase. So that could have something to do with my take on it.