Muppet Retro Reviews: Elmo Saves Christmas


Michael Wermuth – Elmo Saves Christmas is a Sesame Street special from 1996. The special begins with Telly, Zoe, and Baby Bear spending Christmas with Maya Angelou, for some reason. When they express a desire for every day to be Christmas, Maya tells them the story of “the time Elmo saved Christmas, and almost lost it again.”

In the story, Elmo decides to stay up on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus come down the chimney. He falls asleep, but does wake up to find Santa stuck in the Chimney. This was the first time Santa had ever gotten stuck in a chimney (and he’s been delivering presents since before Elmo was born), due to his young reindeer Lightning stowing away in his sack of toys. In gratitude for Elmo getting Santa unstuck and therefore saving Christmas, Santa gives Elmo a choice of gifts. Elmo chooses a magical snow globe with three wishes, and wishes for every day to be Christmas.

Once the news of Christmas being every day hits the North Pole, Santa instantly figures out what happened and goes to Sesame Street to convince Elmo that having Christmas every day won’t be as good as it sounds. When Elmo remains unconvinced, Santa has Lightning the Reindeer, who can travel faster than the speed of light and time, to take Elmo to the future, to see what it will be like to have Christmas in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and then finally the next December 25th (Santa can’t join them, due to having to go down chimneys every night).

At first, most of Sesame Street is happy having Christmas every day, but eventually they all get tired and annoyed by it. Grover has trouble selling Christmas trees (as there is now a worldwide Christmas tree shortage), Big Bird misses Snuffy, who is visiting his Granny in Cincinnati for Christmas (and he can’t even send him a letter, due to the post office being closed).  Maria and Luis are tired of not working. The only one happy with this is Oscar, since it annoys everyone else. However, by December 25, the street has pretty much become a ghost town, Bob and 14 Karat Soul lose their voices from singing Christmas carols every day (oh, did I forget to mention that Bob sings with 14 Karat Soul in this?), and the Count even gets annoyed with counting all the Christmases. But in the end things get back to normal.

This special has quite a bit for me to nitpick about. If Santa was able to give Elmo a gift that could grant wishes, couldn’t Santa manage to wish for Christmas to not be every day (especially since it’s mentioned that he had given away three wishes in the past)? Everybody treats every day like Christmas because it is Christmas every day, but couldn’t they all just treat every day (besides the 25th of December) like a regular day (especially when they all tire of it)? And due to it being Christmas every day, the only program on TV is It’s a Wonderful Life. But since when is that the only Christmas program to air? There’s hundreds of other Christmas movies and specials that could be broadcast (A Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street…).

But ignoring those nitpicks, there’s a lot to like about this special, including the scenes with Grover and Mr. Johnson, a short scene where Ernie and Bert watch a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life where that movie’s Ernie and Bert are referred to by name, a news report from Kermit, and so much more. Most of the songs are great, including “It’s Christmas Again” (appropriately sung every day by Bob and 14 Karat Soul), Big Bird’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” (no, not the Mariah Carey song), “Every Day Can’t Be Christmas” (whether sung by Santa or Elmo), and a new performance of “Keep Christmas With You”, sung by Elmo and the cast (though I prefer the original from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street). The only song I don’t like as much is “Give Your Friend an Easter Egg for Christmas” sung by the Easter Bunny (played by Harvey Fierstein). Charles Durning (who you may remember as Doc Hopper from The Muppet Movie) does a great job as Santa Claus, and Lightning is a great character. This is my second-favorite Sesame Street Christmas special (after Christmas Eve on Sesame Street).

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

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