Muppet Classic Theater Is the Perfect Christmas Carol Follow-up

Only released on VHS, Muppet Classic Theater combines The Muppet Christmas Carol and ’90s Nostalgia to make a unique movie yet forgotten movie.

Many characters reside among the greatest of the American entertainment pantheon. Superman and Batman, Spider-Man and Hulk and even Mickey Mouse himself grace TV screens as often as Ronald McDonald graces bags full of food. But among this great group sits an unsuspecting frog made of felt who, along with the others in the famed puppet troupe, comprise the Muppets. Jim Henson’s wacky critters have long been a staple of entertainment, with a timelessness that makes them appeal to fans of all ages. The Muppets are equal parts hilarious and hopeful, as their narratives often center around the good guys winning simply by being as good as they can be.

But despite the recognition of the Muppet brand, there are several instances where the group of felt fiends was difficult or impossible to watch. Home video releases of The Muppet Show have only been fully available within the last decade, and licensing and distribution deals have had the Muppet brand scattered about for quite some time. Though most Muppet shows and movies are available on Disney+, some remain unavailable. One such release was a little-known straight-to-video Muppet movie released two years after the much-beloved The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Classic Theater. Though currently unavailable to watch anywhere legally, Muppet Classic Theater deserves to be made available so that Muppet fans are able to watch an important moment in the series’ history.

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Muppet Classic Theater Follows a Winning Formula


Muppet Classic Theater‘s two most important Muppets are Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo the Great, a winning chemistry that began in The Muppet Christmas Carol. The two introduce a set of six classic tales from centuries past, with stories like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Emperor’s Clothes” serving as the narrative jumping-off point. Seemingly inspired by the success of The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Classic Theater is almost entirely a period piece, with only brief segues between the stories interrupting the illusion.

In addition to its hosts and setting, Muppet Classic Theater emphasizes the other winning part of a Muppet performance: original songs. Whether it’s Ms. Piggy’s aggressive musical assertion that she deserves respect or Kermit’s denial of Gonzo’s legitimate plea for vulpine salvation, the music is original and silly with a unique Muppet turn and strongly inspired by the stories in which they appear. Each tale has at least one song and can tackle things like the “Midas Touch” tale or an Elvis-inspired take on “The Cobbler and the Elves.”

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Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992).

The classic was unique because it was the first straight-to-video Muppet production. It came during the mid-’90s when Disney and others were heavily experimenting with direct-to-video releases. This production followed the typical structure of a direct-to-video release in being short, keeping a lower production value and acting as a bit of a sequel. Additionally, it was presented in an episodic format, a trend also seen in Hercules: Zero to Hero and Tarzan & Jane. These trends were typical of films from the mid-’90s until the mid-’00s, meaning Muppet Classic Theater acts as an interesting time capsule of ’90s entertainment.

It’s unlikely that Muppet Classic Theater will get a release on Disney+, as it never made the jump from video to DVD and would serve as little more than a curiosity. However, it stands as a marker of a lot of ’90s nostalgia in a funny, unique package that still holds up reasonably well. If nothing else, it’s worth restoring to see Gonzo and Rizzo’s narration continue from The Muppet Christmas Carol.

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