BY JON CRONIN
For those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, Jim Henson and the Muppets were a constant part of the holiday tradition and, this year, Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) will share that magic with today’s children with a series of Happy Henson Holiday screenings.
The screenings—which run from Dec. 2 to Dec. 30—will feature some of Henson’s most-celebrated tales at MOMI’s Sumner Redstone theater. It kicks off on Dec. 2 at 1 p.m. with John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together and an episode of The Muppet Show with John Denver. In 1979, John Denver appeared on The Muppet Show, collaborated with the Muppets on a Christmas record album and rounded out the year by joining the Muppets for an ABC television special inspired by the album. Denver’s appearance with the Muppets is well remembered for the singer-songwriter’s Muppet version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
On Dec. 17 at 1 p.m., MOMI will present A Muppet Family Christmas, which unites the Muppets, Fraggles and Sesame Street characters in one big family reunion at Fozzie Bear’s country cabin. This version is uncut and will be followed by rare behind-the-scenes home movies from the production and a compilation of some memorable moments from other Henson holiday productions.
On Dec. 16 at 1 p.m., MOMI will present The Muppet Christmas Carol, a retelling of the Charles Dickens classic that is recast with Muppets, including Gonzo as Charles Dickens, Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Fozzie Bear as Fozziewig. This faithful adaptation is as full of Christmas spirit as the original.
There will be a 40th-anniversary screening of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas with a live event to follow on Dec. 23 at 1 p.m.
The children’s film features original songs by Paul Williams. It is the story of Ma Otter and her son, Emmet, who both secretly enter a talent contest to win money for each other’s Christmas presents. This restored presentation includes Kermit the Frog’s segments. After the show, Jim Henson Legacy President Craig She-min—who is producer of the award-winning documentary Behind the Scenes in Frogtown Hollow—will be joined by Marilyn Sokol, who is the voice of Ma Otter, to present outtakes from the special and excerpts from the documentary.
On Christmas Eve, MOMI will show Christmas Eve on Sesame Street at 1 p.m.
In this Emmy Award-winning special episode of Sesame Street, Big Bird camps out on his roof to prove to Oscar the Grouch that Santa Claus does, in fact, deliver the presents to every house on Christmas Eve. The episode will be preceded by a compilation of clips from Sesame Street holiday programs.
In honor of its 20th anniversary, MOMI will present Bear in the Big Blue House: A Berry Bear Christmas on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. The museum will screen the two-part episode A Berry Bear Christmas, which will be introduced by Noel MacNeal (Bear) and Tyler Bunch (Treelo, Pop and Doc Hogg). In the episode, Bear sets out to find the traditional Winter Berry, while he and his friends prepare for the holidays.
MOMI will present the ABC holiday special Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy/The Bells of Fraggle Rock on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m.
Featuring the familiar theme of toys coming to life when kids leave the room, this Henson classic tells the story of last year’s favorite gift, Rugby Tiger’s (Dave Goelz) becoming nervous about the arrival of a new toy and planning to sneak under the Christmas tree so he can once again be a new gift. In The Bells of Fraggle Rock, Cantus arrives for the Festival of the Bells and Gobo sets out on an adventure—to find out if the mythical Great Bell of Fraggle Rock is real.
Tickets for each event are $15 general admission, $11 for seniors and students, $7 for youths between the ages of 3 and 17, and free for children under 3 and museum members. Order tickets online.