Any true blue Henson Head knows that if you ever wanted to rewatch A Muppet Family Christmas in its entirety after its initial broadcast in 1987, you had to tape it yourself on ABC. Once it was released on home video, many of its best musical moments were omitted due to rights issues: Fozzie Bear duetting “Sleigh Ride” with his new snowman sidekick, the Muppet Babies—in live action!—sweetly singing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” the list goes on.
But as 2020 continues to remind us, all good things come at a terrible price. News of a coronavirus vaccine is accompanied by rising death tolls. A new president is preceded by a cloud of stinky fast-food farts. And the Muppets’ caroling medley is cut short by the harvesting of organs from sick infants.
In a viral clip from a bygone airing of the special shared on Twitter by Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Mike Scollins, the epic finale of the special ends happily enough, with beloved characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” in the living room of a farmhouse owned by Fozzie Bear’s mother. The music ends and they all do that Muppet thing where they nod rapidly in satisfaction while looking around at each other. But then, as soon as the credits roll, the festivities are interrupted by a Nightline report from Dr. Timothy Johnson. He’s no Muppet, and the things he says were not meant for sweet Muppet ears.
See for yourself:
To quote Sam the Eagle, “Is nothing sacred?” Here we are, thinking that the biggest conflict of A Muppet Family Christmas was getting Miss Piggy home safely in a snowstorm or Robin the Frog yearning to prove the existence of Fraggles to his Uncle Kermit. We don’t know the date of this particular airing, but the emotional whiplash of a cherished holiday special ending with talk of dying babies and their precious body parts is just so distinctly 2020.
After Scollins’ initial post, several other Twitter users chimed in to confirm that their ripped VHS copies also had Dr. Johnson’s ultimate killjoy playing over the end credits.
Was the promo tied to a specific region, or was this aired everywhere in the United States via the national broadcast? Does this mean there’s a deleted scene where Dr. Bunsen Honeydew stalks the Muppet Babies through the farmhouse with a scalpel?
A quick Wikipedia search tells us that Dr. Johnson retired in 2012 after a distinguished career as a physician and journalist. That’s great and all, but the man must answer for his sins. So Dr. Johnson, if you’re reading this, please comment and let us know why you had to piss all over The Muppets’ special brand of yuletide cheer. And why did we all have to be reminded of it now? Because this, friends, is 20/20. We mean Nightline.
You can watch the Muppet Christmas Special—with that special outro—in full below.
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