“Jim had wanted to do a heavy production number on a river, since rivers are where otters live. Bill Beeton, the set designer, prepared a tank the full width of the studio. The river set was the focus of the entire show. The script called for Emmet and his mother to row down the river in a boat while singing a song.
At a production meeting, it came out that the special effects people intended to achieve this by rigging heavy chains along the bottom of the tank. I suggested to Jim that we could render the boat entirely independent by controlling it with radios. 'How,' said he, 'could a puppet row a boat?' Each oar had its own little reversible electric motor, controlled by radio from a remote location. Emmet's body was sprung so that it leaned over backward. His arms pulled his body into the natural rowing positions. The only difference between Emmet and a real rower is the source of the motive power.
The other person in the boat was, of course, Emmet's mother. I made the bodies myself but Don Sahlin made the heads, and he had not yet finished with Mama. That is why her head looks more like a block of wood!”