Long before “Otters Holding Hands” went viral on YouTube, Jim Henson made otters adorable in Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, HBO's 1977 holiday heart-tugger mixing Muppets, marionettes and kazoos. Set in a world of anthropomorphic riverbed animals (the saloon tycoon frog dude, the crotchety muskrat lady), the story opens with widowed Ma Otter and young son Emmet lamenting yet another impoverished yuletide: “Don't talk about Christmas all the time, there's no point. We don't have enough for regular days,” says Ma, before breaking into song about how it's all good as long as there “ain't no hole in the washtub.” It's not long before Emmet puts a hole in that very washtub to make a bass and join his pals' jug band, just as Ma hocks Emmet's odd-job toolkit for a fancy dress, both hoping to win top prize in the local talent contest, reverse Gift of the Magi style. Mother and son ultimately lose to glam-rock jerks the Riverbottom Nightmare Band, but love saves the day. Warning: Unless you're a hipster who's O.D.'d on irony, bring Kleenex.

Sat., Dec. 25, 4 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly