A Muppet Family Christmas
December 12, 2017
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. We're all aware of The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine, as seen in this clip...
(Cut to 1987 BBC footage of Sir Michael teaching the art of acting to five young actors)
Michael Caine: What I often see in television or cinema...
(He is also addressing the newly-shot Kermit the Frog; his parts are cropped to 4:3 definition)
Caine: ...is people who are looking at someone else and they change eyes. Just I'm changing eyes. (blinks eyes) And I'm blinking.
Kermit (Doug): Oh, yes, I see. It's very realistic. I–
Caine: That is two of the worst things to do.
Caine: You never change eyes, you pick an eye. Now, which eye do you pick?
Kermit: I guess I go with–
Caine: I look with this eye, (blinks eyes) and if I keep blinking...it weakens me. And I just keep going. And I don't blink. And I keep on going. And I don't blink. You start to listen.
Kermit: Well, I'm listening because I'm wondering why you're not blinking. I wish I could blink. By your definition, I should be the greatest actor in the world!
Caine: As opposed to someone who is sitting there going... (blinks his eyes repeatedly)
Kermit: Who even blinks like that? You'd have to concentrate to blink like that. (looks toward camera) Merry Christmas.
(Back to the NC)
NC: Though it's fine for what it is, it is a shame that not a lot of people are aware of the Muppet Family Christmas special.
(Clips of this special are shown)
NC (vo): Airing on TV in 1987, this special was released on VHS, but sadly, never on DVD or Blu-ray. Part of the reason may be that it's the biggest gathering of all the Jim Henson characters, with the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, even the Muppet Babies make it in there somehow! But sadly, with copyrights being bought and sold among the properties, they never came together to sort out a digital release.
NC: And I'm here to ask: should they?
NC (vo): Is this something we deserve to see past YouTube and busted VCRs? If everyone came together to push (a shot of the Muppets Warburtons commercial is shown) crumpets and (a shot of Kermit drinking Lipton tea is shown) tea, why can't everyone come together for this?
NC: Well, I'm gonna quickly look over this holiday special to see if it's worth it. This is The Muppet Family Christmas.
(The opening is shown, showing the Muppets (that is, Kermit's personal crew) all crowded into a pickup truck (Fozzie Bear is at the wheel) that drives through snow, at a relatively fast clip)
NC (vo): It starts off with the gang singing the only Christmas song legally allowed to be played as a polka. (which is...)
Muppets: (singing) Yes, we need a little Christmas, / Right this very minute. / It hasn't snowed a single flurry. / Fozzie, we're all in a hurry...
NC: Actually, it's snowing many a flurry, and you should be driving slower.
NC (vo): It looks like they're driving up to give Fozzie's mother a surprise Christmas visit. Which is a shame, because she apparently had other plans.
(Ma Bear is shown wearing a panama hat and sunglasses)
Ma Bear: Christmas in Malibu! Ah, I'm going to lie on the beach and catch some rays! Wocka Wocka!
NC: Okay, is "Wocka Wocka" to bears what "Shalom" is to Jewish people?
(Someone knocks on the door. Ma Bear opens it, and it's Doc (Gerry Parkes) with his dog Sprocket)
NC (vo): It looks like Doc, the owner of the house the Fraggles live in, is renting the house while Fozzie's mom is out.
Doc: Are you my landlady? (Sprocket howls) No, Sprocket, I didn't know I was renting from a bear.
NC: Whoa! Did a bear kill your family?! (thinks for a moment) Actually, it's totally possible. But still, whoa!
(Ma Bear hears another knock on the door)
Ma Bear: Now, who could that be?
(Behind the door is...Fozzie)
Ma Bear: Son!
Ma Bear and Fozzie: Ooooaaaahh!
NC: Anyone getting a feeling this is an older version...
NC (vo): ...of Linda from Bob's Burgers? (The clip of Linda Belcher from that show is played briefly)
Ma Bear: California in three hours! Ho-ho!
Linda Belcher: (from an episode Bad Tina, dubbed over Ma Bear) Mommy doesn't get drunk. She just has fun.
(The other Muppets go inside the house)
NC (vo): But Fozzie brings the Merry Men, much to his mom's surprise.
(Sprocket growls angrily)
Doc: Be careful, Sprocket! These could be from some foreign planet.
Ma Bear: Actually, they're from television.
NC: Oooh! Hide your genitals! I read the news!
Ma Bear: Plenty of room for everybody.
Doc: (trying not to lose his composure) Excuse me. You promised me a nice, quiet Christmas.
Ma Bear: You're disappointed? I just took three months of surfing lessons for zip.
NC (vo): Okay, she's taking all of this much better than she should be.
NC: (arms crossed) I would sell half of them to Lamb Chop's Sing-Along!
(Cut to Miss Piggy at her photo session, calling Kermit and informing him and everyone else she'll come later)
NC (vo): But Miss Piggy calls and says she'll be showing up late.
Miss Piggy: Teensy-weensy photo session I just scheduled.
Photographer: (offscreen) Okay, now give me more over the shoulder, honey. (Miss Piggy makes a pose) Hold it.
NC: This photographer says he wants these for his personal collection. (smiles nervously)
NC (vo): I'm not even kidding. Listen to this guy!
Photographer: (offscreen) Oh, yeah, couldn't be nicer. (takes a photo) Oh, beautiful! (takes another one) Oh, oh, oh, now do that pouty thing.
Miss Piggy: (comes closer to the camera) Oh, yes.
Photographer: (offscreen) That pouty thing... Ohhhh, oh! (takes multiple photos)
NC: (as the photographer, pretending to be holding a camera) Don't judge me! We're all animals! (turns to his right and continues taking photos eagerly)
(Back to Ma Bear's farmhouse, the Swedish Chef shows up with his kitchenware)
NC (vo): And even more quirky characters seem to keep popping up.
Fozzie: Swedish Chef!
(The Chef, as always, speaks some gibberish)
NC: Wow, that's what his friends even call him? Swedish Chef?
Fozzie: Swedish Chef!
Chef: ("translated" via subtitles) It's Sven, you asshole! (slips and falls) Shit!
(Gonzo greets the arriving (and still living) turkey, who was apparently convinced by the Swedish Chef to come for a nice vacation)
NC (vo): But it looks like he invited a turkey, too, and Gonzo tries to save him from Arma-gobble-geddon.
Gonzo: Don't you realize it could be very dangerous for turkeys around here?
Turkey: Not to worry. I'm a survivor.
NC: (as the turkey, adjusts his jacket) I'll survive like all the other famous turkeys, like... (realizes in horror) Oh, my God, there aren't any... Did anyone see Free Birds? (The screenshot of the two main characters of this movie is shown) Please tell me you saw Free Birds! My life depends on it!
NC (vo): Kermit, meanwhile, has a relaxing chat with his nephew Robin.
Robin: We always come together at Christmas.
Kermit: Yeah. Life would just pass in a blur if it weren't for times like this. Hmm?
Robin: (suddenly starts singing) Jingle bells, jingle bells...
NC: You know, there was a reason you were replaced by...orange you. (Walter from the 2011 movie is shown)
(Dr. Teeth and his band The Electric Mayhem join them)
NC (vo): But the band livens things up by singing "Jingle Bell Rock".
The Electric Mayhem: (singing) Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, / Jingle bell swing...
NC: (shaking his arms and dancing) Yeah, there's no point to it, but it'll shut up...
NC (vo): ...Pepe the Frog stool sample!
(Outside, Fozzie finishes making a snowman. At the same time, Rowlf and Sprocket play the piano)
NC (vo): Meanwhile, Fozzie makes a snowman outside while Rowlf plays inside.
Fozzie: (singing) I feel it's lovely weather for a bear and a snowman like you.
Snowman: (suddenly coming to life and singing like Fozzie) Up here, the snow...
NC: (scared) Aaah! Kill it with literal fire!!
Fozzie: Time for Santa Claus and his eight prancing reinbear.
Snowman: That's "reindeer".
Fozzie: No. (throws around some snow) It's snow, darling! (They both laugh)
NC: ...I refer you to my last joke.
(He swipes the screen to...)
NC: Aaah! Kill it with literal fire!!
(In the house, the Chef is tricked by the turkey into believing that Sprocket is an even bigger turkey)
NC (vo): Meanwhile, the Swedish Chef tries to cook...the dog.
NC: (confused) That old Swedish stereotype?...
Doc: He is not a Christmas turkey!
Chef: (subtitled) Don't make me go Seventh Seal on your meatballs!
(Scooter stumbles upon an old home movie, so the Muppets sit down to watch it)
NC (vo): After that, they find some old home movies of their first Muppet Christmas together.
The Muppet Babies: (singing on video) Santa Claus is coming to town!
NC: Ah. The last-known footage of Skeeter before she went to join Avenue Q.
Offscreen voice (Doug): I told you we don't talk about her anymore!
NC: (nervously) Sorry.
NC (vo): Anyway, we know this isn't the earliest Muppet Christmas get-together.
NC: It goes back ages ago. Again, for the Muppet Christmas Carol.
(Back to Michael Caine's acting class)
Caine: If you're fair and you've got blonde eyelashes like I have...
Kermit: Did you just call yourself "fair"?
Caine: ...you wear mascara, because if you have blonde eyelashes, and you're in a movie, you might as well be in a radio play.
Kermit: That's, um...more of a makeup department issue, isn't it? And why does it matter if you're not gonna blink? They're not gonna see it anyway!
(Caine is shown blinking five times)
Kermit: ...I'm afraid of you.
(Caine continues blinking while Kermit just sits there watching. We go to a commercial, but in a total silence. After coming back, we fade to the turkey flirting trying to woo Camilla the Chicken)
NC (vo): So it looks like the turkey is putting the moves on Gonzo's feathery girlfriend.
Gonzo: Bu-bu-but, Camilla's my girlfriend!
Turkey: You gotta be kiddin'. You're not even a bird!
NC: (as the turkey) Let's just say (points up, then down) the attic matches the basement, okay?!
NC (vo): But before feathers fly, the Sesame Street gang pop by to sing carols.
(The characters from Sesame Street, including Big Bird, appear outside)
Bid Bird: (singing, but only moving his right hand) Deck the halls with boughs of holly...
Muppets: (singing) Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
NC: (as Big Bird, singing) Not with this hand, though, it's faulty. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
Bert and Ernie: (singing) Sing the joyous song together...
Muppets: (singing) Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la!
NC: (as Bert, pointing to his right) Big Bird should be dead in this weather. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
(Bert and Ernie are shown talking to Doc)
Bert: Did you know that "Doc" starts with the letter "D"?
Doc: Why, yes.
Ernie: "Yes". "Yes" starts with the letter "Y".
Ernie: And "true" starts with the letter "T". (Bert chuckles)
Doc: What is this?
Bert: Where we come from, this is small talk.
NC: (shrugs) Why'd you come back to me? That joke was perfect.
NC (vo): Just when it looks like the Chef found his turkey, the turkey introduces him to an even bigger delicious helping.
Turkey: Look at this!
(He points out Big Bird to the Chef, with the thunder rumbling in the background)
Chef: (subtitled) IKEA'S NUTSACK! (throws his dish away) Ingmar Bergman Volvo Moose Meat!
NC (vo): While it looks like is getting worse and Miss Piggy still hasn't shown up, Fozzie's mom still tries to figure out where to put everybody.
Ma Bear: Blue monster said he'd sleep in the bathtub.
Fozzie: (puts a tick in the pad) Check.
Ma Bear: And, uh...Ernie and Bert will bunk out with the lizard here.
NC: (as Ma Bear, adjusts glasses suspiciously) I'm assuming they share a bed.
(The Muppets sit down to watch The Night Before Christmas pageant)
NC (vo): Speaking of which, they act out their highly-prepared Sesame Street pageant next.
Ernie: Come on out, Bert.
Bert: (behind the curtain) I won't.
Ernie: Come on, Bert.
Bert: Ernie, please don't make me.
NC: (as Bert) Fozzie and Kermit are over there, and we all know we're doing their voices!
(Eventually, Bert comes out, wearing a white dress. Ernie snickers)
Bert: Ernie, why must you always humiliate me?
Ernie: Come on, Bert. Somebody has to play Mama.
NC: (as Ernie) Our female cast is limited, and we still don't know what sex Elmo is.
Ernie: But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight...
(The Two-Headed Monster finishes the poem with its trademark balderdash)
NC: This has been a Two-Headed Borat Christmas, everybody.
NC (vo): Then Fozzie wants to show Kermit his new comedy partner, the snowman he made earlier.
(The snowman comes inside, guided by Fozzie)
Fozzie: Hey, hey! Hey, everybody! Would you like to see our new act?
NC: Just as long as you're not giving a 20-minute short before a Pixar film, you'll be tolerated. (The poster for Olaf's Frozen Adventure, the Frozen short that was played before the movie Coco, is shown)
NC (vo): But they got some not-so-friendly friends to perform in front of.
Fozzie: Statler? Waldorf? Wh-where'd you guys come from?
Ma Bear: They're friends of mine, Fozzie. They come visit me every Christmas.
NC: (as Ma Bear) And seeing how this Christmas I was gonna be out of town, I'm gonna check and see if I have Alzheimer's. (gets up from his chair)
Snowman: Hey, Fozzie!
Fozzie: Yes, Mr. Snowman?
Snowman: Did you hear about the church that burned down?
Statler and Waldorf: Holy smoke! Do-ho-ho-ho-ho-hoh!
(NC imitates Statler, crossing his arms and imitating his laugh)
NC: (as Waldorf, offscreen) A hundred people burned to death!
NC: (as Statler) O-o-o-okay, Waldorf, keep it cynical, but upbeat.
(Big Bird, completely unaware of the Chef's culinary intentions, gives him a handful of homemade chocolate-covered birdseed)
NC (vo): They boo them off the...um, stair, as the Swedish Chef tries to knock out his meal, but keeps getting knocked out himself. But Big Bird gives him a gift reminding him of how difficult it must be to be away from his home in Sweden.
(Crying, the Chef blows his nose into his sleeve)
Big Bird: Tell me, exactly, what are you going to fix for Christmas dinner?
(After thinking for a bit, the Chef takes his dish)
Chef: (subtitled) Man. Sweet, buttery, delicious man.
Big Bird: My absolute favorite!
NC (vo): As the storm gets worse, Miss Piggy tries harder to get there while Kermit worries. Doc, having befriended them, though, decides to go look for her.
Doc: Now, what's your friend look like?
Kermit: Uh, well, uh, to begin with, uh... She's a pig.
Doc: Well, up to a short while ago, I would have thought that strange.
NC: (as Doc) I mean, I have problems with women, too, but I never called them that.
(Kermit heads down to the cellar to find that his nephew, Robin, has found a hole leading to Fraggle Rock)
NC (vo): Funny enough, as he leaves the house, Robin discovers a Fraggle hole in the basement.
Kermit: These are beautiful caves. Woo!
Robin: (catches up) Hey, Uncle Kermit, wait up.
Kermit: Huh? Okay. (continues walking around the cave)
NC: Oh, no, you took a wrong turn!
(The screenshot from the 1982 movie Dark Crystal is shown)
NC (vo): Now you're in Dark Crystal! LOOK OUT!
NC: (points to a camera) They'll result in mixed opinions! (slams the table) MIXED OPINIONS!
(The Frogs soon stumble upon the Fraggles)
NC (vo): They, of course, come across the Fraggles sneaking through the tunnels.
Kermit: Oh, well, actually, we just came down here to wish you all a merry Christmas!
(The Fraggles nod in approval and says "Thank you", "It's nice", etc.)
Wembley Fraggle: Uh, what's Christmas?
Red Fraggle: Yeah.
Robin: Oh, don't you have Christmas?
Wembley Fraggle: Nuh-uh.
Red Fraggle: No.
NC: Have none of you seen (poster of...) a He-Man/She-Ra Christmas Special?
Robin: You wish each other peace on Earth.
Red Fraggle: We have a time like that.
Mokey Fraggle: I'm giving Boober this nice yellow pebble.
Gobo Fraggle: That pebble's been a gift 37 times.
(Cut to a clip from a movie Clerks)
Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran): Thirty-seven?!
(Back to the Muppets)
Muppets: (singing) When I give a gift to you, / I know you're gonna give it, too...
NC: Forget it. (crosses arms, pouting) I'm not saying "Happy Holidays". Your celebration exists not.
(Kermit and Robin return just in time to witness Miss Piggy's arrival on a dogsled driven by Doc, who's wearing a Mountie-style uniform)
NC (vo): It looks like Doc not only found Miss Piggy, but he used a bunch of sled dogs to get her home.
Miss Piggy: Merry Christmas, Kermie.
Doc: I was searching through the snow, and suddenly, there was Miss Piggy with this costume for me.
NC: (grinning) I've concerning questions about all of this!
(All the Muppets gather at home together)
NC (vo): Well, now that everyone is finally together, they sing.
Rowlf: (singing and playing the piano) Happy holiday...
Muppets and Doc: (singing) Happy holiday!
NC (vo): And sing...
Scooter: (singing) Ding-dong, merrily on high, / In heav'n, the bells are ringing...
NC (vo): And sing...
Count von Count: (singing) I saw three ships come sailing in...
Muppets and Doc: (singing) On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day...
NC (vo): And sing...
Gonzo: (singing) Good King Wenceslas...
NC: How long is the rest of this?
(The caption "10 Minutes" pops up)
NC: Yeah, the rest is literally singing, folks.
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong, though, this is exactly how a special like this should end. Muppets singing, Doc comes in dressed as Santa, even the big JH himself making a rare appearance.
(As the Muppets sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", Sprocket and Jim Henson himself watch them from the kitchen)
Jim Henson: But I'll tell you what. Somebody's gotta do something about these dishes, Sprocket. (puts on the apron) Come on. I'll wash, and you dry, okay?
NC (vo): It warms the friggin' heart. See, that's what kind of special it is, though. It's not really story-based, it's just a warm location for characters to drop by with season's greetings, like a lot of holiday specials that aired. This isn't supposed to be a cinematic three-act structure.
NC: Like I said before, we have The Muppet Christmas Carol for that.
(We cut back to Michael Caine teaching acting in front of the students and Kermit)
Caine: The camera is like somebody who loves you deeply.
Kermit: Well, you definitely think it loves you deeply.
Caine: It's the most incredible of mistresses or lovers, whichever sex you are.
Kermit: What...what...the camera's my lover now?...
Caine: It will love you forever, in spite of the fact you ignore it.
Kermit: Like I'm trying to do to you.
(Cut to a student listening attentively to Caine)
Kermit: Don't look at him that way. This guy's nuts.
(The clips from A Muppet Family Christmas are shown once more as NC continues his closing thought)
NC (vo): Muppet Family Christmas is delightful from beginning to end, as long as you know what you're getting going in. It's a warm and fuzzy special that relies more on atmosphere and friendliness than laugh-out-loud moments, though they certainly have a few of those, too. It's meant to be had on at a family get-together with kids running around and adults talking and looking at the TV once in a while, going, "Man, that's Christmas."
NC: Sadly, like I said, though, a lot of families can't do that, because it never got a DVD or Blu-ray release. However, you can sign a petition to make it happen.
(The screenshot of said petition posted on Change.org is shown)
NC (vo): Yep. You can go to Change.org and add your name to the list. Will we finally make it happen? Who knows. Whatever the result, we have a charming special on VHS and YouTube we can still watch every holiday. It's a good one to check out, so don't miss it.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I reme–
(The door opens to reveal...Michael Caine, played by Walter Banasiak)
Caine: Not so bloody fast!
(NC gasps in amazement, stands up and goes to Caine)
NC: Wow! Michael Caine! You look...exactly like you do on film.
Caine: Thank you, but I don't a-appreciate how you a-treat my ability to teach acting to those who a-doubt me.
NC: Oh, it's nothing personal, it's just...you're very easy to make fun of.
Caine: If you're gonna make fun of me, you have to do it the right way.
NC: (shifts eyes) Right way?
Caine: Let me teach you. (touches NC's shoulders with both his hands and points at his left eye) Look at this eye here.
NC: Okay, why–
Caine: Your right eye.
NC: My right eye–
Caine: My left eye.
NC: Your left eye. Why–
NC: Okay, yeah?
Caine: (points at something off-camera) Now, look here at the camera.
NC: (turns head back) What? What?
Caine: It's your lover.
NC: A what?
Caine: It's your mother.
NC: What– That's my mother?
Caine: And they're watching you at the same time!
Caine: Now, what you do...
Caine: ...is never blink.
NC: Why would I never blink?
Caine: Because it weakens me. (blinks eyes several times)
NC: Well, if I blink like that, sure.
(Caine starts adjusting NC's hat, and then goes to do the same to NC's glasses)
NC: (overlapping) You think blinking's not good. I-I'm human being and ought to blink. Why...why are you doing this? No, no, no, what...
Caine: (overlapping) Come on, come on. I think you ought to keep your hat like that over here. And I'm gonna have you to ditch the glasses–
NC: (slaps Caine's arms away) Stop that!
Caine: Listen to me!
Caine: If you want to be a good actor...
NC: (confused) A... A what...
Caine: ...you can't blink, you have to make love to your camera!
Caine: I suggest you invest...
Caine: ...in Avizor eye drops, because you're never supposed to blink, ever, you understand me?
NC: You've blinked, like, five times, and you still think–
Caine: I never blink. (blinks some more)
NC: (overlapping) You blinked right there! You blinked twice! You blinked twice!!
Caine: (overlapping) No, I didn't! No, I didn't! Put your hand down.
NC: Oh, okay. (does so)
Caine: We're gonna go back to the basics.
NC: You're really scaring me.
Caine: You blinked. (slaps NC on the cheek)
Caine: Listen...to me.
(He shows clenched fists, which makes NC shudder and gasp)
Caine: You blinked! (slaps NC again)
NC: OH!! (gets really angry and points the index finger up) Now, look–
(Caine takes hold of NC's finger and BREAKS IT! NC cries out in total pain)
Caine: Repeat after me.
NC: (at the verge of tears and fear) Does this involve going to the hospital?...
Caine: A, B, C, D...
NC: A, B, C...you're going too fast, but–
Caine: ...E, F, G.
Caine: H, I, J, K...
NC: Why are we doing the alphabet?
Caine: And guess what?
Caine: L, M, N, O, P.
NC: That was a word. Those weren't even letters.
Caine: Q, R, S...
NC: I know the goddamn alphabet.
Caine: ...T, U, V.
NC: How's this helping?
NC: I just asked a question!
Caine: ...X, Y and Z.
Caine: Now you know...the ABCs...
NC: Yeah, I already knew it.
Caine: ...next time...
Caine: ...won't you sing with me?
(Caine suddenly shows his fists, startling NC, slaps him on the cheek again, and leaves without saying a word. Completely confused and scared, NC addresses the camera)
NC: What was that?!
(And we go to the credits!)
Channel Awesome tagline - Caine: And if I keep blinking...it weakens me.
- A Muppet Family Christmas actually was released on DVD in the United States in October 2001, though it went out of print after the Jim Henson Company sold The Muppet Show franchise to Disney in 2004. Additionally, due to the full rights to the songs only being secured for television broadcasts, all of the special's home video releases in the US were missing a few scenes. (This does not apply to its video releases in the UK, though.)
- Contrary to the Critic's joke, Skeeter (Scooter's twin sister from Muppet Babies) does not actually appear in the Muppet Babies scene.