Some may argue that it's a little early for Christmas DVDs to be hitting store shelves. To them I say "Bah, humbug," particularly if the DVD in question is last year's Muppets Christmas special, A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. The hour-long special is by no means the Muppets' first Christmas piece (either on the big screen or small), but it is a new story for the characters and has all the little enjoyable moments one expects from Henson's creations.
Letters to Santa features Kermit and company wreaking havoc at the post office on Christmas Eve, after which Gonzo finds several letters addressed to Saint Nick sitting in his backpack. With the post office closed early due to the holiday, Gonzo, Fozzie, Kermit, Rizzo, and Pepe have no choice but to venture to the North Pole and hand deliver the Christmas lists.
Of course, as this is the Muppets, there are a plethora of diversions, obstacles, and insanity along the way. The best of these include the Swedish Chef's brief appearance and Beaker and Honeydew displaying their newest invention. The film also features several enjoyable new songs by long-time Muppet collaborator Paul Williams.
The film is full of cameos, including ones from Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowsi, Nathan Lane, Jesse L. Martin, Steve Schirripa, Tony Sirico, Richard Griffiths, Petra Nemcova, Uma Thurman, and Michael Bloomberg. It's an impressive lineup of stars for a special which aired on network television (during the 2008 holiday season) – and, not all the stars are NBC personalities, which is the network the special originally aired on.
Muppet fans will instantly recognize that several of their favorite characters have apparently "aged" from their last appearance to this one. While said characters – Fozzie and Scooter to name two – still appear almost exactly as they did before, the very clear difference in their voices certainly indicate that these characters, some of whom have who have been around for more than three decades, have changed over the years. It is certainly understandable that Muppets who are as old as these Muppets are would undergo some sort of aging process. It may disappoint some, but if the alternative is the characters stopping to produce new works, it seems as though allowing the characters to age and grow is a small price to pay.
The new DVD sports some deleted scenes, bloopers, and behind the scenes discussions with members of the cast. Some of these bonus features are placed in a "Muppets Stocking Stuffer Smorgasbord" (the others simply air after the main feature), which is a menu that depicts a Christmas hearth scene and where various elements of the scene are selectable (ornaments, presents, stockings, etc.). None of the items are labeled, but each does give some sort of indication of whom will appear when it is clicked (clicking the "J" on the tree leads to an interview with Jane Krakowski, the Kermit looking stocking leads to an interview with the frog). It's an odd way of presenting bonus features, but somehow fits in with Muppet sensibility.
At this point, the Muppets' canon is so large and varied that people will always have their favorite moments and stories. Whether A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa becomes a favorite for anyone has yet to be seen. What is clear however is that the characters are still funny, are still enjoyable, and are still clearly viable several decades after their first appearance.
Here's looking forward to their next appearance.