From the vault: Talking ‘A Muppet Family Christmas’ with Henson biographer Brian Jay Jones

It's the greatest Christmas special ever — but you can't watch it on Disney+ or any other streaming service. Here's our conversation from 2022 diving into the mystery surrounding this classic.

From the vault: Talking ‘A Muppet Family Christmas’ with Henson biographer Brian Jay Jones
A scene from A Muppet Family Christmas. / Jim Henson Productions

This chat originally ran in the Dec. 12, 2022, edition of Popculturology. I’m republishing it here as a standalone article for this holiday season. Once again, my huge thanks to Brian Jay Jones for spending an evening talking A Muppet Family Christmas and Jim Henson with me.

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I adore A Muppet Family Christmas. It was my first entry into the world of Jim Henson. My mom taped it off TV, and our family would watch it on VHS year after year after year. Now, you can watch several bootlegged versions on YouTube.

Why YouTube and not streaming or Blu-ray, you ask? Surely, someone could be making money on this thing.

A Muppet Family Christmas, in its original form with all its songs and characters, does not exist on any official streaming service or physical media.

Brian Jay Jones was kind enough to chat with me about that last week. If you’re not familiar with Brian’s work, he has written several biographies, including ones on Washington Irving, George Lucas, Dr. Seuss and — most importantly for us here — Jim Henson. (It’s fantastic and you should check it out.)

We talked about how we watch Muppet Family Christmas, why there’s no official version available and what the special might’ve meant for Henson’s future had he not passed away. We talked for an hour and a half about so much more than this Christmas special.

As such, this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Jim Henson and Sprocket in A Muppet Family Christmas. / Jim Henson Productions

Everyone, especially this past week since it’s the 30th anniversary, talks about Muppet Christmas Carol. But to me, A Muppet Family Christmas — that’s my Muppet movie. And I think that’s actually how I was first introduced to Muppets.

I actually came to Muppet Family Christmas late. I have to tell you I actually came to Muppet Family Christmas, I think, when I was writing the bio.

My Christmas production was always [Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas]. That’s why even when we come down to those contests over what’s the greatest Christmas special, when it gets down to Emmet Otter and Muppet Family Christmas — as well it should, in my opinion — I have to give the edge to Emmet just because of the nostalgia thing. But I love Muppet Family Christmas. I think it’s probably [Jim Henson’s] finest hour.