Few things say “1970s” like the pairing of John Denver and the Muppets! In 1979, not only did John Denver appear on episode 401 of The Muppet Show, he would also costar in John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together on ABC. An album of the same name was also released that same year. Being a child of the 1980s, my introduction to this special was when I stumbled upon the album during an after Christmas sale at Kmart nearly 10 years ago. It is hard for me to pass up ANY Christmas CDs, let alone one featuring the Muppets! Although it boasts the same name as the special and does contain several of the same the songs, it does not serve as an accurate soundtrack to the special. Songs like “Little Saint Nick,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Where the River Meets the Sea” makes the CD a wonderful addition to an eclectic Christmas music collection, but when I found them missing from the special, I felt like the Grinch had edited it! I am not sure exactly why I had not watched this special until now, but I have really been missing out. Denver’s voice matches and harmonizes with the Muppet beautifully. He also plays a perfect straight man to the gang whether it be joking along with Fozzie or being on the receiving end of Miss Piggy’s advances, Denver was one of the stars who really knew how to interact well with the Muppets. When he looked at them, it was as though he were looking at any other costar and not watching foam and felt being manipulated while waiting for his next line. Unlike other Muppet Christmas specials, in full 70’s fashion, this is a variety style show with some “behind the scenes” plots of the Muppets and Denver putting on the show. This special is all about the music! If you are not a musical fan, you may need to drink a lot of eggnog before tuning in! The talented singing voices of Muppet performers Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson really shine throughout the show. Denver proved himself to not only be a gifted songwriter and singer, but also as a talented dancer as he taps and joins kicklines in multiple show-stopping numbers. The only song that seemed out of place was “Christmas is Coming,” performed by Miss Piggy (I hope that diva doesn’t read this!), Beaker, Janice, Gonzo, and Fozzie. While peppy and a perfect earworm, the song serves nicely to maintain the pacing and reengage the children in the audience, but does not match the rest of the tone of the show. One of the reasons this variety Christmas show is so enjoyable is the fact that it serves as an entertaining layering of themes related to Christmas such as hosting a Christmas show, homesickness, toys and Santa Claus, Biblical allusions, the history of beloved carols, and the magic of Christmas for children. Some of these themes are blatantly spelled out while others are subtly implied. This is complex and pretty good writing for a variety special. Of course, there are several talented people behind this special that made it so great. In addition to the John Denver, Jim Henson, and the talented Muppet performers, Sesame Street writer, director, and producer Jon Stone, and the infamous Ray Charles helped shape this special with their talents. The secular songs build up to a recitation of the story of Jesus’ birth. This special contains more Biblical references than any other Muppet work. Throughout the special, Denver made several Biblical allusions, making the reference to the nativity story not as forced at it otherwise may have seemed. Denver constantly referred to peace on Earth and good will to man, bears, and chickens during the show. The nativity puppets that were used along with Denver’s narration were gorgeous. The realism of the puppets and the details were a sharp contrast from the abstract, bright, and colorful Muppets. They were phenomenal. The special was tied up neatly at the end when Denver and the Muppets sang “Stille Nacht,” with Denver reciting the history of the song as the Muppets hummed, then the camera pulled back to reveal the set and an audience of adorable children singing the English version of “Silent Night.” Watching this special really made me nostalgic and mourn John Denver’s sudden and untimely death along with my favorite Muppet performers. The skits and songs quickly re-charged my Christmas spirit and were a delight to watch! I give this one 3.5 out of 5 rubber chickens! See larger image A Christmas Together New From: $5.46 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.