Christmas Countdown: A Muppet Family Christmas & Olive, The Other Reindeer

There are so many Christmas specials that would have disappeared had it not been for YouTube.

A Muppet Family Christmas

There are a great number of Christmas-related episodes and movies featuring The Muppets, but A Muppet Family Christmas is my favorite. It first aired in 1987 and featured Muppets from all the major Muppet-affiliated properties — The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock so there’s something for everyone here. The plot features all the Muppets converging on Fozzie’s mother’s house, which has been rented out to Doc for the holidays. The house-crashers aren’t exactly welcomed by Doc (especially as more and more Muppets keep showing up). It’s the Muppets and it’s Christmas, so there is a lot of singing and jokes. The whole thing culminates in an extended melody of Christmas songs and a bittersweet appearance of Jim Henson at the end.

While it was released on VHS and DVD, due to rights issues, several songs and scenes were cut. “Rights issues” are probably also why this is not officially streaming anywhere, but YouTube copies exist and are rarely taken down.

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Based on the book by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold, the 1999 animated special is about a dog named Olive (voiced by Drew Barrymore) who, after mishearing “all of the other reindeer” as “olive, the other reindeer,” she and her pet flea, Fido, decide she’s not good at being a dog because she’s actually a reindeer. Along with Martini (voiced by Joe Pantoliano), a con-artist penguin who’s escaped from the zoo, she travels to the North Pole to help Santa while evading an evil postal carrier (voiced by Dan Castellaneta).

I really love Olive, the Other Reindeer. It’s so inherently sweet while not being cloying. After all, this is a special where Michael Stipe of R.E.M. voices a reindeer named Schnitzel and producer Matt Groening also is uncredited as an elf.

The special bounced around several channels (including Cartoon Network) for several years and has been released on VHS and eventually DVD (which still seems to be available) but it’s not officially streaming anywhere (probably those pesky “rights issues” once again). Much like A Muppet Family Christmas, copies of it on YouTube don’t seem to disappear too often. That’s good because if you haven’t seen this, you should watch it.