Plot: What’s it about?
Emmet Otter and his Ma have very little in terms of money, but they do have a lot of love and more often than not, that’s enough. With Christmas around the corner however, Emmet wishes he could purchase some nice gifts for his Ma and his other friends, but without a decent amount of cash, he knows it will not happen. Ma works as a clothes washer and Emmet does odd jobs with his tools, but they only make enough to allow ends to be met. But when a talent contest is announced, Emmet decides to take a chance and enter, even if it means they could lose what little they have left. Emmet joins up with a jug band and in order to be a member, he’ll need a bass and of course, he doesn’t have one. But he takes Ma’s washtub and modifies it into a bass, while Ma sells Emmet’s tools to buy herself a costume for the contest. In other words, Emmet and Ma have put all they own on the line here and if they should lose, the consequences would be dire indeed. But can Emmet’s jug band manage to outperform the Riverbottom Nightmare Band, a group of wealthy youngsters with expensive, well tuned instruments?
This is not the usual Christmas kind of story, but Emmet and his friends know how to put on a good show, without a doubt. The story is a warm, well written one and as far as children’s specials go, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a terrific program. The adventures of Emmet and his loved ones has heart, spirit, and a great sense of humor, as well as some terrific musical numbers. It has some corny moments, but even they seem genuine here, thanks to the excellent storytelling and likable characters. The use of Muppet-esque puppets works well here, as Emmet and his crew all look pretty good, while the movements seem as fluid as you could expect. I have always enjoyed this show, but it has grown on me more as the years pass, so I like it now more than ever. I used to break out the VHS edition a few times over the holiday seasons, but now I can retire that tape, as Columbia has issued this program on our favorite little disc. I think this is one of Jim Henson’s lesser known and underrated efforts, so I hope it finds a wider base on DVD and I think it will, as people will have more access to the title now.
Video: How does it look?
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I wasn’t expecting too much from this disc here, but I was still a little let down with the end result. The image looks worn and dated, but I had figured on that and it never becomes extreme, so I see no reason to complain too much there. As this was a 1977 made for television project, it has some age on it and wasn’t made with endless resources, which is more than evident here. I also saw some bad halo effects at times, as well as edge enhancement, both of which are distracting in some cases, so I was not pleased. The colors & contrast remain stable and on the whole the image is watchable, but I had hoped for a better treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
The new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is solid, but is very thin at times and as such, I wasn’t too pleased with the results. As often happens, it seems like surround presence was forced and even in the musical numbers, the audio has a hollow sound. Not to say this mix is terrible, but it should have been more natural, even if it meant less surround effects. The music should be more fluid and rich also, but because of the approach used, it also seems thin and unimpressive. The dialogue is clean and easy to understand however, so no worries on that front. This disc also includes 2.0 surround options and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.