The most recent addition to the long list of Muppet programs is "Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa", which was for the holiday season last year. The Muppets, along with several celebrities, returned for the television special, which follows the Muppets as they make sure their letters to Santa make it in time for Christmas.
“A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa” opens with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Gonzo standing in line at the post office to send their letters for Christmas. There, the group start discussing their plans for Christmas and how it will be their first time apart for the holiday season. As Miss Piggy grows impatient, Kermit starts to sing a song about taking the time to slow down and enjoy the season. Jesse L. Martin (“Ally McBeal”, “Law and Order”) offers his vocal talents here as a postal worker. Unfortunately, Gonzo causes some trouble at the post office, which causes a mess and gets the group thrown out.
After being thrown out of the post office, the Muppets run into Claire (Madison Pettis, “The Game Plan”, “Cory in the House”), who wants to make sure Gonzo delivered her letter to Santa. Gonzo realizes that several letters to Santa, including Claire’s, got mixed up in his bag at the post office. So, instead of taking their trips, the Muppets decide to spend their time making sure all the letters to Santa are delivered. Together Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie, Pepe the Prawn and Rizzo the Rat try their best to get to the letters to the North Pole including asking some carrier pigeons and two mobsters (Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa from “The Sopranos”).
When all else fails, the group decide to take the letters themselves and deliver them to Santa. On the way, they take a ride in a cab with a driver played by Whoopi Goldberg, run into some trouble with airport security officer, Officer Meany (Nathan Lane) and catch a ride on an airplane (or rather, on the wing of an airplane) with the assistance of ticket agent Joy (Uma Thurman) - finally making it to the North Pole where they meet an Elf (Paul Williams) who informs the Muppets that Santa already left. Thankfully, Santa (Richard Griffiths, “Harry Potter”) comes back and helps the Muppets after all.
While “A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa” isn’t up to the classic "Muppets Show" and earlier specials, it does manage to provide some laughs, some heart and some memorable songs from Paul Williams. The celebrity appearances are an enjoyable and traditional addition. Other celebrity appearances include Jane Krakowski as Claire’s Mom, Petra Nemcova as Beaker’s Girlfriend, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg as himself. Thankfully, the special also included several other memorable Muppets throughout such as my personal favorites, the two critics who originally sat up in the balcony, but here are looking out a window, while commenting on the other Muppets.
The puppeteering work here is enjoyable to watch and the voice acting for the Muppets is also great. While the special may not hold up to previous "Muppets" efforts, it's still a charming, fun holiday special.
VIDEO: Disney presents the special in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Sharpness and detail are mostly strong, as the presentation consistently offered a very pleasing level of definition and clarity.
There were a few minor issues, but they weren't much of a concern - a little bit of edge enhancement was seen on a couple of occasions, and some scenes did present a couple of trace instances of pixelation. Colors remained bright and vibrant, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation offered some minor use of the surrounds for reinforcement of the music and minor effects. Aside from that, this is a pretty forward-oriented sound mix, which isn't surprising, given the material. Audio quality was fine, as the dialogue sounded crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: BONUS FEATURES:
You have to search for the special features once you click on “The Muppets Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord”. The features are hidden throughout the decorated living room. Features can be found on stockings, ornaments and gift tags. The features include: an interview with Jane Krakowski about her experience, an interview with Madison Pettis, some deleted scenes/moments, interviews with Kermit, Miss. Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzie, and finally a brief collection of images from the special. The deleted scenes are humorous and are worth a look for fans of The Muppets, and the interviews are fun as well.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Toy Story 3”, “Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving, 10th Anniversary Special Edition”, “Santa Buddies”, Disney Movie Rewards, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo Choo Express”, “Ponyo”, “UP”, “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”, “Prep & Landing”, and “Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse”.
Final Thoughts: While “A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa” isn’t close to the classic Muppets Show and earlier specials, it does manage to provide some laughs, some heart, some memorable guest appearances, as well as some memorable songs from Paul Williams. While the special may not hold up to previous "Muppets" efforts, it's still a charming, fun holiday special.