Written by Ryan Dosier.
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
Best known role…
Hard working, odd-job doing young otter living in Frogtown Hollow; washtub bass player in the Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band
Alice “Ma” Otter; Pa Otter (deceased)
Wendell Porcupine; Harvey Woodchuck; Charlie Muskrat
WHO IS EMMET OTTER?
Emmet Otter is the protagonist of the 1977 classic Christmas television special Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. He lives in Frogtown Hollow with his beloved mother Alice Otter. We catch up with Emmet days before his first Christmas since his Pa passed away. Emmet and his Ma travel down the river doing odd-jobs for their neighbors such as laundry, making pies, mending fences, and more. Despite their slim finances, Emmet and his Ma are always in good spirits, singing joyous songs like “The Bathing Suit That Grandma Otter Wore” and “Ain’t No Hole in the Washtub.”
When Emmet and Ma go into town to do their errands, Emmet spies a beautiful used guitar with a mother of pearl inlay for $40 and tells Ma that he wants the guitar for Christmas. While admiring the guitar at the music shop, Emmet has his first run in with the Riverbottom boys, who are destroying the shop. Later, Emmet’s friend Wendell Porcupine tells him about a contest on Christmas Eve with the grand prize of $50. Wendell, along with Harvey Woodchuck and Charlie Muskrat, wants Emmet to join their jug band to enter the contest and try to win the prize. Emmet is hesitant because joining the jug band would mean having to make a washtub bass to play, and the only way to do that is by putting a hole in the washtub, which would ruin Ma’s business.
After much consideration and singing Pa’s favorite song, “When the River Meets the Sea,” and using Pa’s ice slide with Ma, Emmet decides that Pa would have put a hole in the washtub to enter the contest and win the money so he can buy Ma a Christmas present. The next morning, Emmet nails a hole in the washtub to make his bass and goes to join the formation of the Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band. During their first rehearsal, the band performs “Barbeque” and decide that they’re ready for the talent show.
On Christmas Eve, the talent show begins and after the first few acts disappoint, Emmet and his band decide they have a good chance of winning… until Yancey Woodchuck performs “Barbeque” before the jug band gets to. Emmet and his friends panic and decide to go rehearse another song for the talent show. When they come back in, they see Ma Otter performing the song “Our World.” Emmet is blown away by Ma and is convinced that she will win. When the jug band finally gets onstage to perform “Brothers,” they really impress the crowd–and Ma, who tells Emmet she’s sure he will win.
However, the Riverbottom Nightmare Band takes the stage and steals the show, winning the prize money. After the show, Emmet, Ma, and the rest of the jug band are walking home when Ma has the idea to blend their two songs, “Our World” and “Brothers” together. They sing the songs together and they meld perfectly. Luckily, they happened to be singing outside the Riverside Rest, Frogtown Hollow’s favorite cafe and night spot owned by Doc Bullfrog. They draw a crowd from the restaurant, including Doc Bullfrog himself, who hires Ma, Emmet, and the band on the spot to entertain his guests.
Finally with steady, good-paying jobs, Emmet and Ma can have a merry Christmas. Emmet and Ma sing a reprise of “When the River Meets the Sea” before going home to celebrate the holiday.
WHY DOES FROGTOWN HOLLOW NEED EMMET OTTER?
Frogtown Hollow needs Emmet Otter because he is helpful and friendly and beloved by most of the folks on the river. His odd jobs have been a big help to many of his neighbors and his charm brings smiles to the faces of many of the denizens of Frogtown Hollow. Now that he, Ma, and the jug band work at the Riverside Rest, Emmet is even more important to the town.
Beyond that, Emmet Otter is a wonderful character from an even more wonderful television special. He is good and honest and kind. He is also one of the greatest characters performed by Jerry Nelson.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org