I watched It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie tonight. It's not as good as my favorite Muppet Christmas special, A Muppet Family Christmas, but it's still highly enjoyable. And one thing that it has, which my favorite does not, is Pepe. I discovered Pepe in Muppets from Space and he quickly became my favorite Muppet. And that ain't an easy task! But of all of the Muppet Show Muppets, he's the one I now love best. (For the Sesame Street Muppets, Grover is still my favorite. And Ernie is my inner-Muppet.) He's so romantic, okay? And he parties with Ricky Martin, okay?
This most recent of the Muppet Christmas specials spoofs so many Christmas specials, I lose count while watching. Plus it's got the "Crocodile hunter" and the cast from Scrubs. Joan Cusack is great as an evil bitchqueen from hell, and her cat fight with Miss Piggy is worth it for the bad dubbing alone. But I probably still rank it third of the three Muppet Holiday specials that I have on DVD. (The only one I don't yet have is The Rocky Mountain one with John Denver. Have the soundtrack to that one, at least.)
The Muppet Christmas Carol was the first post-Henson movie, and at first I wasn't sure I liked the new Kermit voice. But the musical itself was enjoyable, and was partly responsible for my turnaround opinion of Michael Caine. (I used to really dislike his performances. Now I rather enjoy watching him in a production.) Gonzo and Rizzo did a fabulous job in carrying the Muppets through the production, and they continued this role during their next movie, Muppet Treasure Island. The music is very catchy (almost too catchy - becomes part of my Jungian radio, even when it's not Christmas time). I'll probably watch this one as we get closer to Christmas.
But by far, of all the Muppet productions (even surpassing The Muppet Movie, in my book) is A Muppet Family Christmas. This story resonates so well with my immediate family that it was a tradition to watch it every season. The poor off-air VHS copy that we have of it is particularly worn (but still watchable), so I was pleased when I found it available for sale. Only to be GREATLY disappointed to find that they cut out one of the songs and the "live action" Muppet Babies video. (Probably a rights problem, but dammit, I wish they'd get that sorted out.) I bought the DVD hoping that it was the full version, but it, too, was expurgated. Alas! Still, with or without the cuts, it's a piece of pure magic. It's less than an hour long, but it's funny and touching and has lots of holiday favorites sung with glee. And the Fraggles and Sesame Street crowd all show up too! The final scene, of Jim Henson having to do the dishes with only Sprocket the dog (from Fraggle Rock) to help him, is especially touching now that he's gone. Thanks Jim, for the magic you gave us all!