For the longest time that I can truly remember, I didn't miss this Christmas special if I knew it was on. My first memories are watching it on HBO, but it's most likely that I first watched it in 1981 since I was born in 1977. This, THE MUPPET SHOW, SESAME STREET, and FRAGGLE ROCK made up many of my childhood days. Is it any wonder with the amount of television and feature film work The Jim Henson Company managed to put out every day during those 20 years for children that anyone that had been born OR grew up in the 70's and 80's were nicknamed "Jim's kids?" I think not.
EMMET wasn't original material, it was based on a children's book first published in 1969. This is one of those rare cases where the filmed version of a book not only stays true to the source, but completely adds its own magic. This is in no small part due to the wonderful filming techniques they developed specifically for this special, which would later be utilized on a grander scale in THE MUPPET MOVIE. Not only that, but there is just a magic that seems to radiate from the TV screen as the obvious puppets suddenly seem to be living and breathing just as you or I.
For it's 30th anniversary, Philfrog has taken all the alternative versions and deleted scenes to compile the most complete, original version possible, mirroring the original cut of the original HBO broadcast run between 1977 and 1979. Until now, the ABC broadcast version had been the most common version of EMMET...that was, until Disney bought The Jim Henson Company and Kermit's original narration had to be edited away. Although his part is brief and small, he is a welcome sight.
Normally in my reviews I skip rating audio and video because as long as there's nothing that distracts, I see no reason to rate it. Either it works...or it fails. There is no in-between. In creating this edit, Philfrog put his best foot forward each time, always asking himself "What would Jim do?" when faced with fixing the problems (he mentions his efforts throughout his IN THE WORKS thread...sometimes at the sake of his own sanity). In keeping with the spirit of these efforts AND for the first time since I've been writing reviews I WILL now rate the audio and video:
That's right, you'd have to be a cold-hearted nit-picker like Gretchen Fox in order to try to even remotely find even a blemish for either the audio OR video. It's. That. Perfect. The audio and video taken from the VHS sources are so well captured, balanced and polished up that unless you do a "frame-by-fame" step OR close your eyes while wearing earbutton headphones with the volume jacked way up...you will not see nor hear a difference. PERIOD. Even the sole extra, Philfrog's trailer for his 30th anniversary hybrid, is so well done it starts to spin the mind...making you wonder just how professional an editor can be if he just takes a few extra moments.
Philfrog, to sum up all the hard work you've done on this 30th anniversary hybrid of EMMET OTTER'S JUG-BAND CHRISTMAS I'll simply quote from this song:
If you look to the good side
Fallin' down's a free ride
Slippin' and a-slidin' in the mud
So it twists and contorts you
The barrel supports you
You can feed and clothe yourself
With a rub-a-dub-dub!
When there ain't no hole in the washtub
Ain't no hole in the washtub
Ain't no hole in the washtub :lol: