Archive for the ‘Jim Henson’ Category

Channel Flippin’ – "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa" Review

December 23, 2008


The Muppets’ renaissance to stardom continues with a much-needed breath of fresh air in their new Christmas special, “Letters to Santa.”


By Blake

Originally posted December 22, 2008.

It’s been a long time since I was completely content with a new Muppets production. The short new videos appearing lately on YouTube and on the new Muppets.com have been great, but if the Muppets are supposed to have really won audiences over by the time their new movie hits theaters in 2010, I knew it was going to take a lot more than short Internet clips to make viewers want more Muppets. The Studio DC specials that aired in August and October of this year did their job to get younger audiences interested in the Muppets, but were somewhat painful for longtime Muppet fans to watch.

Thankfully, Kermit and the crew were back to their classic flair and charm in the superb new Christmas special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, which aired Wednesday, December 17, 2008 on NBC.

In the new special, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, and Rizzo the Rat are getting ready to embark on a tropical vacation for Christmas, but put their plans on hold when they accidentally forget to mail a letter to Santa written by Gonzo’s friend and neighbor Claire (played by Cory in the House’s Madison Pettis). Since it’s Christmas Eve and the post offices have closed for the holiday, the Muppet bunch decides that the only way that Claire’s Christmas wish can come true is if they deliver her letter to Santa personally. You can imagine the hilarity that comes from them as they make their way to the North Pole on a quest to find Santa.


It seems that every Muppet imaginable has come out of extinction to make an appearance in Letters to Santa. It actually reminded me a lot of the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s California Adventure theme parks. The two productions’ plots are completely different, but it seemed like they were very similar in making sure that each Muppet character had their own bit of screen time, even if it was brief. We get a great short sampling into each character’s personality that I hope will be repeated in more force in the upcoming Muppet feature-length film. Sam the Eagle’s quick and random appearance was hysterical.

Even the lesser-known characters that have been absent for several years returned, including Kermit’s nephew Robin, Lew Zealand (with his boomerang fish), Beauregard the custodian, Crazy Harry, Bobo the Bear, and a few others. The only smaller characters that I didn’t spot were Sal Minella and Johnny Fiama, who I didn’t even notice were gone until I really thought about who was absent.

Muppet veteran Kirk Thatcher serves as director for Letters to Santa, and he has previously directed It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and written Muppet Treasure Island, as well as episodes of Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs.

Another Muppet favorite, Paul Williams, wrote the four original songs that appear in Letters to Santa. Williams first worked with the Muppets in a guest appearance on The Muppet Show, and later wrote the songs for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppet Movie, and The Muppets Christmas Carol. I’m not sure why, but it had somehow registered in my head that this new special wasn’t going to be a musical, so I was very pleasantly surprised when Kermit started singing the opening song, “Delivering Christmas,” which turned out to be my favorite of the new songs.

The writers of the special include Paul Williams, along with Saturday Night Live writers Hugh Fink, Scott Ganz, and Andrew Samson. They add mature, but definitely not inappropriate, jokes and gags that make the special appealing to any age group. Pepe and Rizzo especially seemed to be given extra care when being written for – they’re the center of many of the jokes and apply most of the comedic side of the special.

As with any Muppet production, celebrity cameos are around every corner in Letters to Santa. Embarrassingly, the only cameos I recognized were Madison Pettis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Nathan Lane. However, many other celebrities appeared that I didn’t recognize, including Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, and more.

Not too lengthy to prolong itself or its storyline, though not too short to leave us wanting much more, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa is honestly one of the best Muppet productions I’ve seen in years. Filled with all of the favorite Muppet characters and featuring a healthy balance of comedy with heartfelt emotions, there’s not much to criticize. And considering the relatively quick amount of time that it took to pull the special together, it’s amazing that it turned out the way it did. If this rate continues in the quality that the Muppets’ works are producing, then I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves – er, paws – for 2010.

How do I rank A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa? (Bolded is my choice.)
  • Utterly repulsive
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa will most likely please: Muppet Fans – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7) – Older Kids (ages 8-10) – Young Adults – Adults – Old Folks

If you missed A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, you can catch it again on Hulu through December 31, 2008. So hurry if you missed it or if you want to see it again!

By Blake; originally posted December 22, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

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