A Chradvent Carolendar #15: A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)

The bar’s been set pretty low, folks.

Let’s skirt past the fact that the Flintstones are celebrating the birth of Jesus several thousand years before he was born, even less adapting a story written in 1843. The Stone age had its own Victorian age and we just need to accept that. Moving on.

We are not handed another Mickey Mouse/ Muppets/ Rich Little character-for-character adaptation. Instead, the good people of Bedrock are staging their own one night community production of A Christmas Carol with Fred Flintstone as Ebonezer Scrooge. 


And boy, is Fred happy to be playing Scrooge. Despite still learning his lines on the afternoon of opening night he has sick delusions of making it big on Broadrock. Caught in the throes of acting he becomes neglectful of his family, rude to his coworkers and negligent at work. He forgets to buy any presents, he forgets to pick up Pebbles from daycare and he’s dismissive and demanding of Wilma. Poor Wilma. In addition to being stage manager she’s also had to pick up the wardrobe manager portfolio due to illness, the mysterious “Bedrock Bug”. Fred doesn’t deserve her. At the very least we can take solace in the fact that in the Flintstones, unlike The Honeymooners on which the show was based, she’s not constantly under threat of domestic abuse


Who the fuck is this character? She says she wants to rehearse the “love scene” with Fred. In A Christmas Carol? What? 


There’s a wiki dedicated to Christmas specials that I just discovered and their description of this scene is great:

“It is implied here that Fred is in a secret relationship with Maggie behind Wilma’s back”

Fred… you bastard.

He rushes out to buy emergency Christmas presents (which he pays for on his Mesozoic Express card) and gives them to a stranger, a tiny child, to stand in the gift wrapping line so he can go get ready for his play.

After setting up that Fred’s a big dickhead and everyone hates him we jump into the production of A Christmas Carol. Barney is Bob Cragit and the firm is Scrooge and Marbley.


They get around the narration issue nicely by having an actor off stage reading in the lines. The next 15 or so minutes are… a pretty faithful line for line adaptation of the original text. There isn’t any meta commentary and we almost forget that they’re staging a play. This becomes incredibly confusing later on .

We meet the chuggers and Fred.


I’ll assume we’re meant to know who they are. The Flinstones wiki is insistent that these are named characters but I have absolutely no idea who they are. Look, I watched The Flintstones as much as anyone did as a kid and even though I tuned out when they started introducing aliens I guarantee I have never seen these people before. Maybe that’s why they didn’t do a straightforward adaptation? Because there aren’t enough memorable Flintstones characters to fill all the requisite roles?

Across the whole show I can only think of maybe five or six adults and I just watched a 70 minute long Flintstones movie.

There are some kids outside having a snowball fight despite the fact that we just established that the stage snow was comprised entirely of animal feathers.

This inconsistency is pushed to its limit in the next scene. The Marley knocker.


What sort of fantastical stone age technology are they using to physically morph a tangible object into a translucent human head LIVE ON STAGE? If it’s meant to be the actor’s actual head, why is it considerably smaller than Fred’s?

This becomes a running theme. Scrooge has retired to his chambers and is about to be visited by Marley. I don’t know where on the stage they managed to fit his room but all four walls are clearly visible.

Marley’s entrance:


Again, this is a one night community theatre play. 

Wilma takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Past as the actress comes down with that mysterious Bedrock Bug. She too is translucent. Fred turns translucent when he touches her. Wish I had this show’s production designer but he probably died 6000 years ago.


As you may have noticed, the animation is slightly better than the usual Flintstones fare. This is probably because it was made 30 years later with a higher budget. If you wanted to get a sense of what it’s like in action, think Tom and Jerry Kids. Probably same people involved, both were early 90s Hannah Barbera things. 


How big is this fucking set? How are they changing it?

Immediately before they enter the schoolhouse, we have an act break. The curtain goes down. After a bit of backstage nonsense, it goes up again and Fred is playing Young Scrooge suddenly. How does that work? Never mind, we’re off to Fezziwig’s.



In this scene we see Old Scrooge (intangible, played by Fred Flintstone) watching Young Scrooge (tangible, played by Fred Flintstone).


We meet Belle (played by Wilma because the original actress caught the Bedrock Beg) and then Belle breaks up with Scrooge as per the original. We then get ANOTHER act break. Barney specifically mentions this one is 10 minutes because Fred rushes back to the store to pick up his gift wrapped presents. No dice, Fred. He breaks into the department store (!!!) and is approached by a police officer called Philo Quartz, also the only black man in Bedrock. Philo lets him off (???) having also earlier let him off a charge of crossing a red light over the speed limit because Bedrock has modern era Zimbabwe levels of corruption.

They race through the next two ghosts. Lots of reality-breaking stage effects complimented by verbatim Dickens dialogue. It’s extremely surreal to watch. 

At the epilogue now, Wilma has been cast one of the chuggers (Bedrock Bug) and ad libs with Fred. Fred admits he was being a right dickhead earlier on the film and that he’s a changed man. Wilma asks why? I also ask why. He says the events of the play changed his mind. Ok. 

Tiny Tim was Bam Bam and he tries to deliver the “God Bless Us, Every One” line but gets stage fright and Pebbles jumps in and delivers it instead. Fred (Scrooge) and Wilma (that one male chugger, now wearing a dress) have a celebratory hug with Pebbles (one of Bob Cratchit’s children) and we end the play on the line:

“I’m not a Scrooge any more, I understand what’s really important. You and Pebbles and Barney and Betty.”

Yeah, fuck you Bam Bam. Can’t even say your lines right.

The film ends like this. Fred isn’t ever punished for leaving his Christmas shopping to the last minute, putting it all on the credit card and then delegating it to a seemingly orphaned child. At least he thanked Wilma. Still doesn’t deserve her though.

This was an odd one. It was a terrible film, an average Flintstones episode and a fairly accurate reproduction of the Christmas Carol story, beat for beat, line for line.

3 John Goodmans and Rick Moranises out of 10

I’m getting my second wind, I can feel it. This may change because I know what I’m watching next.

A Chradvent Carolendar #14: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Happy now?

The principal reason I did Chradvent was because I kept on hearing people say “the Muppets’ version is the best version”. That seems like quite a bold claim considering it’s been adapted literally thousands of times for virtually every medium and performance genre. How can you be sure of your claim unless you’ve seen them all? I used to joke.

But you’re not laughing now, are you?

I’ll be upfront; I’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol more times than I’ve seen the Blackadder one. I watched it endlessly on VHS as a child and it’s always repeated on Christmas Eve. Cinemas all over the country host sing-along screenings every week of last third of the year.

Why do people like it so much? It received moderate praise when it came out but didn’t smash any records. I think I’ve broken down the reasons why so many people consider it the definitive Christmas Carol:

  1. It’s a recent mainstream Hollywood release
    (It’s easily accessible, it’s well publicised, a lot of people have watched it)
  2. It’s family friendly
    (All the dark stuff is balanced out by lighthearted Muppet stuff)
  3. It’s a musical
    (The songs are good & catchy. It’s fun to rewatch.)
  4. It’s a comedy
    (Who wants to take their kids to see a depressing, didactic, grown up film at Christmas? This will probably be the version most people grew up with)
  5. It’s adapted by an existing, well known franchise
    (Brand recognition. Muppet-lovers.)

The film is more than just these bullet points though, it’s a good film in its own right (but it’s not… incredible). I will go into depth here and will probably drop 2000 words but my summary is that while it is the most fun I’ve had so far this month, it’s a works much better as a broader Christmas film than specifically an ACC adaptation. So then the question is: how do you measure what is Superior? Star Wars might be more fun to watch than Citizen Kane but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. Hm.


This is one of those cast-characters-as-other-characters deal like Mickey Mouse or… Rich Little. The main muppet guy – Kermit – is Bob. Same as how Mickey – who I believe is the main Disney guy – was also Bob. We see more of Bob in Muppets than we do in most versions and he even gets his own song where we see his legs. And not in a weird way like in the George C. Scott version.

We start on a nice long take where we’re showed that muppets and white people coexist and are then introduced to Gonzo (a self-aware Charles Dickens, also the narrator) and Rizzo (who is a sort of comic relief Greek chorus). We establish pretty quickly that the fourth wall is going to be broken a lot. This is a really inventive way of side stepping the narrator issue I’ve been waiting so long for someone to address. The story works best with narration, especially at the start, but no film yet has fully committed to it, either using it at the very end and beginning or not at all. Having Gonzo there to contextualise Scrooge’s thoughts and actions is really nice touch. It adds texture and… Dickens writes well. It’s nice to listen to.

Scrooge is introduced in shadow and we kick into a song.


Gonzo’s narration interspersed between lyrics makes it all feel very ominous.

Michael Caine’s face isn’t revealed until the very last beat of the song and it’s very effective at setting Scrooge up as an antagonistic presence.


We sail quickly through the chuggers (Bunsen & Honeydew), an orphan caroler (Bean Bunny) and Fred (some man) then Scrooge begrudgingly gives Bob and his army of rodent bookkeepers the day off.


We can assume from the fact that Scrooge is employing about 8 extra people that this is the most successful branch of Scrooge and Marley across the Christmas Carol Multiverse.

At this point we usually get a few crucial lines that tell us how Scrooge is going to be played. Surplus population is one, boiled in his own pudding another, let me keep it in my way a third. Michael Caine Scrooge delivers them at face value but it is quite possible that an Alastair Sim or a George C. Scott delivery would not work here. There’s not room for an ironic twist on the original story that isn’t already covered by the inclusion of muppets. This Scrooge needs to be a faithful, static anchor in order for the rest of wacky stuff around him to work. In the man’s own words:

“I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.”

You probably couldn’t get away with a 1951-style deep dive into Scrooge’s character because that version relies on subplots about domestic abuse and maternal death which might conflict with expectations for a muppet movie. Outside of the first scene, Michael Caine plays a very emotionally available Scrooge who is humbled by his visions.

There’s a nice moment as Kermit and the rats try to convince Scrooge to give them the day off – it will cost to burn coal, no-one else will be open.

First live action knocker morph. Scrooge’s reaction also very good.


Scrooge wanders around the house for a while with a candle and poker. The incidental music is really creepy. After a bit, we settle in for the arrival of Jacob Marley and his brother Bob Marley.

Scrooge seems genuinely distressed by their appearance, like he’s about to burst into tears.


He takes his poker to bed and sleeps above the covers, cute touch.


I really like their depiction of the Ghost of Christmas Past; it’s not literal, interpretive, muppet or human. It’s weird and ethereal and I don’t know quite what it is apart from its own thing.


They fly out of the window as Gonzo throws a grappling hook around Scrooge’s ankle to follow them. The logistics really don’t matter.

We’re in Scrooge’s old schoolroom now and he gets really nostalgic and sad. When he sees his younger self alone on Christmas he looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


Scrooged could’ve done with some of the gravitas Michael Caine brings to the table here. This scene has almost no impact because of how much they preempt the crying by talking about it. Like the film was almost ashamed for having a bit of drama.

In contrast, Rizzo and Gonzo are good at keeping the comedy and drama together but separate. They often interject with gags or a fourth wall break but during the more emotionally tense scenes, like the one above, they largely steer clear. There’s loads of crazy muppet stuff at the beginning but this slowly fades as the story escalates. At the film’s conclusion Rizzo and Gonzo completely vacate the Ghost of Christmas Future stave, saying to the audience that they’ll meet again at the finale.

We then cut to Fezziwig, played by Fozzie Bear and renamed Fozziwig. Rizzo and Gonzo are present but did not travel with Scrooge and the spirit so we can only assume that they waited out the intermediate 10 years in real time.

Young Scrooge really looks like Michael Caine, wow.


I checked and it’s not an Albert Finney situation – that’s a different actor. He’s in Emmerdale now. I hope he’s still playing young Scrooge.

He is introduced to Belle who is, reassuringly, confirmed as just a friend of Fozziwig and not his daughter. During this scene, Scrooge looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


The Ghost of Christmas Present is one of the jolly types. This has a number of immediate advantages. It lightens up the middle of the film, gives Scrooge a more varied range of experiences and makes the “boy will die/ then let him do it” line more effective in comparison. They also made him absent minded, which is good twist on his nature as a literal embodiment of the Present.


A song is an extremely efficient way to show Present taking Scrooge to see people from all walks of life celebrating Christmas. It’s also a good song.

Scrooge and Present are almost friends. They joke around, Scrooge seems to be having fun and tries to engage with the spirit. He wants to see family. The spirit takes him to Fred’s house where we get the parlour game in which he’s the punchline. Scrooge looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


Tiny Tim is played by this frog. Presumably he couldn’t get all the way down those stairs because of neglectful Victorian doctors.

He gets his own song which is a little bit too cloyingly sweet for me but I suppose it’s right for the film.

It’s just not quite God Rest Ye Merry Mr Blackadder.

You really get a sense that Scrooge believes that Tiny Tim is remarkable. After that song, he looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


He asks if Tiny Tim will live and the spirit delivers a line which I’d missed from other versions:

“That is the future. My realm is the present. However, I see a” etc

The spirit turns into early 90s CGI stars and we meet the Future Ghost with a dramatic musical sting, a dutch angle and yaoi hands.


The Future ghost is one reason why I’m happy they didn’t do a total Mickey Mouse and have every character represented by an existing one. Originally Animal was going to be Christmas Future. Can you imagine?

Gonzo and Rizzo turn up briefly, again implying they have been living through the visions in real time for decades. Gonzo’s narratorial omnipotence is all over the place and deserves a film of its own.

Future time now. I like that Scrooge remains perfectly dry while standing in the rain.


I won’t bore you with the Old Joe segment again but we are given a line of clarification from Scrooge that suggests he at least isn’t a total moron.

“I understand spirit; he case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way now. Merciful heavens.”

At this point Scrooge looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


Then we go to the Cratchit house, find Tiny Tim dead and Scrooge looks like he’s about to burst into tears.


We cut straight to the graveyard scene, where Scrooge

finally bursts into tears.


And so his character arc is completed. For a few moments there I thought he wasn’t going to do it. What was this movie about again?

That’s basically it. It ends as you’d think. We’re reintroduced to the characters we met earlier and we go to dinner at Bob Cratchit’s house. Everyone’s at the Cratchit’s for dinner, even Fred! Not his wife though…


At least this time Scrooge brought some food.

It’s a solid film, this. Scrooge’s character transformation is consistent and it doesn’t feel like a total 180 by the end! This is entirely down to performance (with a couple of helpful lines thrown in here and there). This version, muppets aside, is actually incredibly faithful. It hits the story beats effortlessly. It’s entirely likely that the writers did their own mini-Chradvent leading up to this, as it takes lots of small cues from 1951, 1970 and 1984. I still believe it’s a better Christmas film than it is an ACC adaptation – it’s sanitised and depoliticised – but you don’t have to be grimdark to be good. It’s definitely the most fun adaptation and one that you can easily come back to again and again.

8 “I love you, Mr Batman”s out of 10

I did it. I watched it and I can say equivocally it’s not the best, just very good. Cue a thousand facebook comments. It’s all downhill from here…

A Chradvent Carolendar #13: Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)

Now we’re in familiar territory.

I have watched Blackadder’s Christmas Carol more times than I can count to the point where it’s lost all meaning to me. I know it line for line and have done since I was 15. I’m sure this won’t affect my judgement of it.

Whereas Scrooged was the first parody this Chradvent, Blackadder is the first to do it with an ironic twist (Rich Little does not count). As a TV special, we go in knowing the main characters already. The Edmund Blackadder of the past two series of the show is a cynical, cowardly opportunist who’d make a good candidate for his own Scrooge-like redemption. So we know we’re in for a treat when Hugh Laurie’s narrator says:

‘In the reign of good Queen Vic there stood, in Dumpling Lane in old London town, the moustache shop of Ebenezer Blackadder, the kindest and loveliest man in all England.’

Maybe it’s just a fever dream but does the set here look like the set from Rich Little’s Christmas Carol?


God, I hope it is a fever dream. 

Ebenezer Blackadder bursts in with a “Humbug! Humbug! Humbug, Mr Baldrick?“. (As the lyrics to the theme song state, he’s sickeningly good). This is not the Blackadder we know and love.

Also like Rich Little, Baldrick manages to spell Christmas without any of the constituent letters, an achievement for which Blackadder commends him. (I spent many German lessons when I was 12 trying to work out how. The closest I got was Kwyznuz, which is how you spell Christmas in Russian.)

But how Ben, I hear you ask, do you sustain the established format of Blackadder when your main character is the complete polar opposite of himself? As you can see, Blackadder’s lines are broadly unchanged.

“I fear, Mr Baldrick, the only way you’d get a big wet kiss at Christmas, or any other time, is to make a pass at a water closet.”

I spent a while trying to work out what it was that Rowan Atkinson was doing. Whatever it was it was very clever. I think it’s a couple of things; the first he’s a lot more patient with Baldrick, whom he calls Mr Baldrick, always finding a positive spin and acting as as somewhat an educator, taking an interest in his activities. The second is that while a lot of Blackadder’s lines are mean spirited, Rowan Atkinson delivers them with complete innocence. You almost get the feel he’s not really saying them. (You can notice this during regular episodes of Blackadder too. Edmund will often insult General Melchett to his face and Melchett won’t hear him.)

Incredible how well this works, actually. How many other sitcoms could you completely inverse and yet not change the fundamental dynamics of the main characters? I think it’s a testament to Elton & Curtis as much as Atkinson, though I’m not sure it would work outside of the confines of this one-off special.

All characters introduced in the Victorian segments are original; we don’t get, for example, Hugh Laurie’s George popping in. The airheaded Prince Albert and the irrepressibly horny Queen Victoria are throwbacks to Broadbent and Margolyes’ roles in the first series but they’re basically completely different characters. We also get Mrs Scratchit (collecting for her overweight son Tiny Tom), a young urchin (wanting money for gin), Mr Beadle and his enormous orphans (straight from Oliver Twist) and Blackadder’s irritating niece Millicent. 

They con Blackadder out of his money, food and presents. They even take the Christmas Twig. 


W-where was he keeping that?

The Royals arrive in disguise complete with footman.


They are on a mission to reward the kind and the generous and, as such, demand Blackadder hand over his Christmas turkey for the kind and generous old woman next door. There are no good reasons to be charitable in this world.

We never see our Marley, but Baldrick does.

‘Ooh, I forgot to mention, when you were out there, there was this enormous ghostly creature come in saying, “Beware, for tonight you shall receive a strange and terrible visitation.” I just thought I’d mention it. It come through the wall, said its piece, then sodded off.’

Robbie Coltrane preempts his role as Hagrid 13 years early.


The Ghost of Christmas Past Present All Three is a grey-bearded Scottish alcoholic. Why? Why not.

Robbie explains that, while his job usually involves getting crooked misers to reform their ways, he just wanted to say stop by and say hello. How does Robbie make them reform? He shows them visions of their ancestors. This does bring into question how exactly showing someone their ancestors gets them to realise the errors of the ways but then this is borne out in the special as it has the opposite effect on Blackadder.

The little clips we get from Elizabethan and Regency Blackadder are nice little 6 minute condensed sitcom A-plots with all the faff cut out. They’re shallow but very good for what they are.

The third segment is set in distant future after Blackadder asks what his life would be like if he became bad:

And then, if he didn’t: 


That’s enough for Blackadder. He un-reforms and sets out to be bad. He starts immediately the next day with the intentional murder of a child.


Our boy’s back!

(This is funny and it is what Blackadder would do but it represents a broader issue with A Christmas Carol; by the end there are literally no residual elements of Scrooge’s former personality left whatsoever. This is a bigger issue in the dramatic adaptations like 1951 or 1984 where the Scrooge we get to know effectively dies on Christmas morning. Maybe  Dickens just meant for Scrooge to be a metaphor without detailed characterisation.)

We’re confronted with Millicent, Scratchit and Beadle once more and each time Blackadder tells them, in a unique and charming way, to fuck off.

The way Rowan Atkinson delivers the line at the end of this clip specifically might be one of my favourite line deliveries of his ever. 

I’ve seen this special 10, maybe 15 times and I still laughed at that moment.

The Royals come back, this time to offer Blackadder a peerage and £50,000. He doesn’t believe they’re the real deal and insults them out of the house. Despite the message throughout of “bad guys have all the fun” we are eventually reminded that this is not the case and the final shot is of Blackadder realising that that really was Queen Victoria.


A lesser sitcom would see Blackadder chase the Queen out of the house with a gag punchline.

This is the kind of neat, alternative retelling of the story that Scrooged so desperately lacked. It completely reinvented itself to suit the needs of the main characters. Less concerned with hitting the story beats as interpreting them. This is how you do pastiche.

7 1/2 novelty death warrants out of 10

I hope my pre-Chradvent knowledge of this one didn’t spoil the overall experience. The truth is, there’s not too much to write about. It’s very solid and the gags are great. If it had been as bad as Rich Little’s Christmas Carol I might have taken more issue with the contrived situations.

Also; the correct viewing order for Blackadder is: 

Back & Forth up to the point where Blackadder makes Baldrick’s life flashes before his eyes

The Black Adder

Blackadder II

Blackadder: The Cavalier Years

Blackadder the Third

Blackadder Goes Forth

The rest of Back & Forth.

I’ve experimented with this formula in marathon setting and using Back & Forth as a framing device really works. Best enjoyed with a casserole made from three beans and that one.


A Chradvent Carolendar #12: Scrooged (1988)

I felt this one. I really felt it. The film’s about 1 hr 40 but it took me over 3 hours to watch because I had to keep pausing to breathe. Turns out that when you spend a full two weeks doing nothing but watching A Christmas Carol you get pretty fucking sick of it. Who’d have thought?

Scrooged (1988) is an average Bill Murray film and a poor ACC adaptation. The end.  

Fine, okIn Scrooged Bill Murray plays a mean spirited television executive who was born and bred in New York despite having a thick Chicago accent. It was directed by Richard Donner who did the original Superman.

The first thing I thought when watching the opening (below) is that this is the first big Hollywood film I’ve watched so far this month. The score, the showmanship, the production values, the terrible trite ending.

We start in the middle of a parody Christmas action movie starring Lee Majors, before immediately cutting away to Robert Goulet. If only Leonard Nimoy was narrating, could’ve had ourselves a hat trick.

Our Scrooge is Frank Cross. He is the youngest executive in television history which is convenient because that allows Bill Murray to play him. It’s not mentioned again.

He wields near omnipotent power over his board of executives. He shows them a recut trailer for a live televised version of Scrooge he’s producing and then fires Bobcat Goldthwaite for doing his job. What’s the point of employing people to have opinions if they can’t express their opinions? Maybe I’m being naive.

(Over the following 24 hours Bobcat Goldthwaite becomes an agitated homeless drunk who seeks revenge on Murray. This pays off when, given his job back at the end, he holds a room full of line producers hostage at gun point so Bill Murray can deliver a speech about the true meaning of Christmas. He gets his job back so he can help Bill Murray help him lose his job again? I think it’s meant to be taken at face value.)

Murray also bodily harms his subordinate colleagues.

He flicks Goldthwaite’s earlobe shortly after this

Bill Murray is a cartoon villain who never stops talking. He’s not acting, he’s behaving. There is no differentiation between his characters here and in Ghostbusters or Groundhog Day. I’m sure this is hugely entertaining but the effect of this is that it I have no idea if his character is good at his job. He also delivers every line with a deadpan dry sarcasm that makes me doubt that he believes anything he’s saying. Is he bluffing? Does he hate being an executive? I have no idea what he’s thinking.

He also shouts a lot. He shouts when he’s angry, when he’s confused, when he’s stressed, when he’s trying to be intimidating, it’s exhausting.

There are lots of good jokes here and I won’t list them all. I like the fake 80s sitcom “Father Loves Beaver”, I like that they have Mary Lou Retten as a backflipping Tiny Tim in the movie-within-a-movie version of Scrooge. But all the fun vignettes are overshadowed by a strange, inconsistent tone that is half really grim and half irreverent ad libs.


Best “do you believe me now” scare yet and a good demonstration of how inconsistent the film is. There is a point earlier in this scene where Bill Murray takes out a gun and tries to shoot Marley. This obviously fails but, as he’s firing the gun, Bill Murray dispassionately yells “Bang! Bang! Bang!”. Did he not want to do this movie?  I completely zoned out at this point. If you don’t care what you’re doing then why should an audience want to invest their time into your performance? That is not normal behaviour, even for a sociopath like Bill Murray(‘s character).

On that topic, from Wikipedia:

[What About Bob’s] producer Laura Ziskin recalled having a disagreement with Murray that led to him tossing her into a lake. Ziskin confirmed in 2003, “Bill also threatened to throw me across the parking lot and then broke my sunglasses and threw them across the parking lot. I was furious and outraged at the time, but having produced a dozen movies, I can safely say it is not common behavior.

Onwards. There are big gaps between ghosts. The next one was promised “tomorrow at noon”.

Bill Murray’s apartment looks pretty similar to Patrick Bateman’s.1988b

Both are high flying narcissistic businessmen living in 80s Manhattan so they’ve almost certainly done coke and fucked. 

Our Fred here is Bill Murray’s estranged brother, James. James invites him over for Christmas Dinner and sends Scrooge a framed photo of them as children at the end. That’s basically all the interaction we get.

Bob Cratchit is Grace, Bill Murray’s PA, and Tiny Tim, Calvin, is her mute son. Instead of a Christmas bonus she gets a branded towel stressing more than anything else how desperately in need the Americans are of a proper labour movement. Her empoverished life in Harlem and Murray’s affluent lifestyle in Manhattan are a good parallel to the situation in Victorian London on which they were based.

We learn that Tiny Tim stopped talking after seeing his father killed in front of him. Jesus Christ. Sounds to me like some sort of PTSD but in the film it is dismissed offhand as a confidence thing.


The Ghost of Christmas Past is a New Yawk cab driver. He takes Bill Murray back to Christmas 1955 when he was 4 years old. His cartoonishly evil father gives him five pounds of veal as a present. 

If this fucked Scrooge up so much then why is his brother so well adjusted and normal? Who knows.

We then fastforward to 1968 when Scrooge is…. old enough to have a job in an office? And live alone in an apartment in lower Manhattan with Karen Allen? But we just established that he’d be 17? It’s a weird scene and I don’t know what it accomplishes narratively. I suppose it establishes that Murray is too much of a workaholic to attend the office Christmas party but not so workaholic as to alienate Karen Allen, this film’s Belle. We then get an intensely boring and unnecessary romance scene. It’s not really ever clear why Karen Allen likes Bill Murray so much, he routinely gets angry with her and ends almost every interaction in a shouting argument. Still, for no reason, Karen Allen keeps coming back.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is insanely irritating.

And yet still only the second worst Ghost of Christmas Present.

Bill Murray doesn’t really show any pre-emptive signs of reformation whatsoever. The first two spirits are completely pointless and we may as well just skip to the Future Ghost.

The ghost is pure 80s practical effects joy. Look what Murray sees when he opens up the spirit’s coat, thinking it’s a guy in costume.


Lots of really nice shots here, including this terrifying sequence where Bill Murray is cremated alive (dead).


Having now fully reformed, Bill Murray then interrupts the live version of A Christmas Carol he’s been producing for television and has a nervous breakdown where he begs Karen Allen for sex and everybody sings Put A Little Love In Your Heart. Bill Murray breaks character and turns to the audience, quotes Little Shop of Horrors and wishes us Merry Christmas.

Oh, and Tiny Tim finally talks. It took a man having a psychological collapse on national television to get over his PTSD. A lesson for us all, I think, despite the fact that Scrooge and Tim barely interact in this film.

I do not like Bill Murray as an actor and I think his ad libs are tacky and overplayed. They’re as bad as any modern Paul Feig film. I will give Scrooged credit for being the only adaptation so far to wrap up Scrooge’s romance plot line. The only problem is that it does that at the expense of everything else.

5 instantly forgettable Bill Murray characters out of 10.

Today’s Chradvent felt mercenary and short. It’s taken me 6 hours to write these 1400 words and I never want to watch another movie again.

A Chradvent Carolendar #11: A Christmas Carol (1984)


George C. Scott stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in a 1984 made-for-TV movie sponsored by IBM.

Today was difficult guys, I really, really felt it. I put it off right until the last moment. I won’t keep you in suspense – it was good – but right now it feels like it’s the only story in the world. And I’m barely halfway through. No matter. Onwards.

We start with some narration, but not with “Marley was dead to begin with”. An odd choice because it’s specifically the only line in the entire piece that works when narrated. Never mind. Who’s in this?


The first Noel.

Aaaand SCROOGE! No messing about. Here he is. A nice, totally original exchange with Bob that establishes his character succinctly.

I may end up clipping quite a few good bits in this post, so pay attention will you?

This Scooge is another one of those Scrooges who isn’t a miser. He’s a sarcastic businessman and is so far the only Scrooge who delivers this line as a joke:

“Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

A fresh take! This has the advantage of making Scrooge feel like a human being. We begin, then, to see a pattern here. Films that treat him like a cartoon character (with the exception of the cartoons) are less good than those that don’t.

The actor who plays Fred is very good. His speech about Christmas that usually ends with

“I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

is not delivered like he’s humouring his Uncle but instead as an earnest, passionate defense of family and Christmas. “Come. Dine with us tomorrow.” Like it’s the least Scrooge could do. Fred is completely confused as to why Scrooge doesn’t like him. They even add a line in at the end “Why can’t we be friends? We’ve never had a quarrel so far as I know.” Lots of nice, subtle touches that hint at a deeper, complex relationship. He leaves upset. This, I will say now, is the most Superior depiction of Fred. I think him and the guy from the fucking awful 1954 version should fight.


Tiny Tim is introduced early. This was a good decision. In the book he isn’t introduced until halfway through Present and some earlier attempts to add in a line where Fred wishes Bob and Tim well usually feel forced. 

Scrooge heads to the stock exchange and, like in 1951, is shown to do business. Some gentlemen approach him about buying a warehouses full of corn (?) and Scrooge upsells them confidently. He’s established in-film to be a money changer so I have no idea what he’s doing with a warehouse full of surplus corn. Maybe it’s cheaper to throw on the fire than coal.

We meet the chuggers at the exchange, another nice, natural change, and once again Scrooge’s “surplus population” line is read to be a weary, dismissive opposition to the taxes he is forced to pay to support the workhouses.

We then spend a bit of time with Bob and Tim to establish Tiny Tim’s disability. There’s a lot of footage of people using their legs, running around using their legs, having a fun time with their legs etc. They put so much emphasis on other people’s legs it feels the kind of like really specific fetish writing where you can tell the author had a thing about glasses.


Now it’s time, yet again, for the part of the film with the Marley knocker. Every day feels the same. Now I know how Bill Murray’s character felt in Groundhog Day and, to a lesser extent, Erik von Detten’s character in Christmas Every Day. Actually maybe to a greater extent.


There are two ways to do the Marley knocker that I’ve seen so far. Either they superimpose an image of the actor’s face over the knocker or there is a physical morph. Most films go for the superposition with almost no difference in technique between here and 1935.

There’s a lot of build up to Marley’s appearance. Maybe too much build up. We spend a good six minutes in the company of strange noises and tense music. (Side note – this is the first time where I have actually noticed the incidental music. It’s very good and is employed to great effect consistently throughout the film.)


Marley appears. He is the first Marley to unhinge his jaw, as per the book, and the effect is unsettling. All done through acting as well! No special effects here. 


Hmm. It looks a lot sillier in gif form.

Some Marleys promise spirits at 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock and others promise  ghosts at 1 o’clock and then 1 o’clock the next day and so on. The second is what Dickens wrote, the first is what makes sense. Time travel as we understand it today wasn’t really a fully formed idea in 1843 so the way Dickens navigated the issue might not make immediate sense to our brains. This, I feel, is one thing that a film version of the story could bring to a modern audience. If you can recontextualise the ideas to more easily communicate the message of the story then go for it, Buster.


Christmas Past! The effects aren’t bad considering they probably blew the entire budget on George C. Scott.

Scrooge is given the most detailed backstory yet: his mother died during childbirth and he boards over Christmas because his father resents him for it. We then meet his father, Silas Scrooge, for the first time. We never find out if Fan died in childbirth like her mother but we still draw a quick parallel between Scrooge and him and Scrooge and Fred. How “Little Fan” managed to be born despite being the younger sibling is never addressed.

Lots of nice subtle bits of dialogue. Silas Scrooge talking to his children:

“Carriage, Fan. Carriage, boy.”

In this version it was Silas who got Scrooge his apprenticeship with Fezziwig. This film does a good job in linking the vignettes across time skips. For instance, we later find out that the job Bob finds for Peter Cratchit came about through Fred. I think this kind of thing is called film making.


I like this Fezziwig because a) he gets some dialogue and b) he doesn’t look like Eggman.

Fezziwig from the 1970 musical
Fezziwig from the 1970 musical

Belle jokingly accuses Scrooge of being too serious and Scrooge remarks that he doesn’t feel worthy enough to be with her and won’t until he has the means to support her financially. This is nice. Later, when she breaks up with him he is clearly now a workaholic but still not yet the miserable neocon we meet at the beginning of the film.


Edward Woodward!!!


Edward Woodward on stilts.

Funny moment at the Cratchit house when Scrooge joins in saying grace.

Tiny Tim’s “god bless us” isn’t totally shitty and pretentious and it even charms Scrooge a bit, leading to my favourite speech of the film:

Really great scene between great two actors at the top of their game.

During Bob’s toast of him, Scrooge says:

“He’s made a point Bob Cratchit has. Without me there’d be no feast; no goose at all. My head for business has furnished him with employment.”

He’s technically correct, of course. The Spirit simply says “Is that all you’ve learned from observing this family on Christmas Day?” and Scrooge’s muted response suggests that it is not and is a really excellent way of foreshadowing the completion of his character arc.


We get a new scene here, an impoverished London family living off scraps. Scrooge is directly confronted with effects of his Classical Liberalism. He is outraged by what he sees and says

“There are institutions!” 

“Have you visited any of them, these institutions you speak of?”

“No, I’m taxed for them, isn’t that enough?”

“Is it?”

It seems there are two ways to do the Ghost of Christmas Present. Either jolly Father Christmas or discourteous giant. I like Edward Woodward’s large rude man best.

The introduction to ignorance and want is my favourite yet. We are reminded that Present is a spirit and has no corporeal presence.


Nervous half-smirk when his “workhouses/ prisons” line is thrown back in his face.


He’s slowly learning. We never see this process as clearly as we do with George C. Scott. He admits his mistakes and actually tries to negotiate with Present when abandoned. He is a man now willing to change.


What a fucking cool introduction to the Future Ghost. For the first time, you really understand why Scrooge might be scared.

We’re taken to the stock exchange and hear the businessmen talk about someone who’s recently died (I wonder who?). Because we were introduced to both them earlier the scene is given renewed context and its placement in the film is better justified.


Liz Smith! She alone lifts the whole Old Joe scene which is, mercifully, shortened. Halfway through Scrooge sees his watch and goes into total denial. It can’t be him. It’s a coincidence. No. He asked to see some emotion around this man’s death and all the spirit has shown is greed and avarice! The irony is not lost on the audience.


That gravestone is still in the graveyard in Shrewsbury where they filmed it. St Chad’s church. Go along and see if you can find it.


He wakes up etc etc. He orders the Turkey to be delivered to Bob’s house and, when asked who it was from, replies “I wish to remain anonymous.” Aha! A callback!!

We’re shown the Cratchit’s receiving the Turkey for the first time and my god does Tiny Tim look ill. 


He looks like one of the kids from Akira.

Scrooge spends lunch with Fred and we are treated to Scrooge apologising to Fred and his wife in a scene that really cements this as my favourite Fred/ Scrooge relationship yet.

Bob comes in late the next morning, of course. I much prefer this to versions where Scrooge goes to the Cratchit house on Christmas morning, it all feels much more like something he would do. Scrooge tells Bob that he’s 18 1/2 minutes late. 

Hang on.

Is… is that a reference to Rich Little’s Christmas Carol? It almost certainly isn’t, but my god, if it was…

It struck me at this point that Bob isn’t really much of a character. He’s basically a bit part in a story that has no real secondary character. It’s just Scrooge and several people that he knows. Bob exists to have his salary raised and to be Tiny Tim’s father, really, and many versions don’t really know what to do with him.

The narrator comes back for the last couple of lines. The narrator is another role that many adaptations struggle to work around. It is one thing for which I will give the Muppets credit.

We finish on the same closing shot as the 1951 version. Cute.


Altogether then, really strong. What struck me, having watched 10 previous A Christmas Carols in a row, is that while this hit all the same story beats as the others it felt very fresh. Gotta applaud constant use of reintroduction, sharp funny dialogue, and pathos.

Like many this film is guilty of Scrooge feeling like a completely different character on Christmas Day. I understand this is sort of the point but it’s almost like he’s undergone a complete personality purge. There is nothing left of his pre-Christmas Eve self. I suppose this cannot be helped but I wonder if any future versions will address it. 

8 1/2 mine shaft gaps out of 10

Best one since Alastair Sim for certain. Was trying to work out whether it was actually better but the striking cinematography of 1951 and Sim’s natural charisma just push it above the mark.

A Chradvent Carolendar #10: Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Yesterday’s Chradvent left me completely emotionally drained. It was very kind then of Disney to make theirs the next chronologically. Mickey’s Christmas Carol is typical cartoon fun; it’s nothing special but I’d say it’s probably the best family friendly, 25 minute long adaptation you could make bearing in mind the source material.

Let’s see who worked on this, then.


Ah, Glen Keane. He’d go on to do some incredible character animation during the Disney renaissance and recently went viral for an appearance on The Late Late show where he drew a 3D picture of Ariel in real time in VR. Who else?


Joh- ah. Never mind.

Can you guess which beloved Disney character is playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge? Let’s just throw a dart at something. There isn’t a W. C. Fields Mouse which immediately throws the whole thing into contention. Let’s us probe the depths of the Donald Duck universe, which apparently exists and is distinct from the Mickey Mouse universe. But who? Who??

Ok enough it’s Scrooge McDuck.


Considering the title is Mickey’s Christmas Carol I thought Mickey might be our Scrooge. It seems obvious now that Scrooge McDuck would play Ebenezer Scrooge but bear in mind this was a good four years before Ducktales came out and McDuck was not a well known character outside of the comic books.

The premise here is very similar to Duck Dodgers or… ugh… Rich Little’s Christmas Carol in that established characters are actors in the story of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge and is referred to as such. Mickey Mouse is Bob Cratchit, etc.

Right away we can see why each character was cast; Mickey Mouse makes sense as the good natured Bob Cratchit. Donald Duck is maybe the most obvious casting, being both the real (read: in Duck Universe) nephew of Scrooge McDuck and the fictional (read: fictional within Duck Universe) nephew of Ebenezer Scrooge; Fred. Makes Rich Little’s characterisations look even more arbitrary and stupid. Paul Lynde for Bob Cratchit? Inspector Fucking Clouseau as the Ghost of – no, no. It’s over now. I can stop.

Fred invites Scrooge over for Christmas dinner. He specifically mentions that they’ll be eating goose. Fatalistic. I presume this cartoon is set in the same universe, where famine has driven the desperate Donald to avian cannibalism. It’s even worse because later a named sentient goose shows up at Fezziwig’s party.

The animation is really smooth and pleasant to look at. Paused on some really good inbetweens that show great squash and stretch


Next up are the chuggers. Who do we think, Chip and Dale maybe?


I, uh – who? Is that… Rat and Mole from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad? Christ, it is. Ok. I didn’t even think anyone at Disney had seen that.

There’s a nice bit where Scrooge palms them off by saying:

“You realise if you give money to the poor they wont be poor anymore, will they? And if they’re not poor any more then you won’t have to raise money for them anymore. And if you don’t have to raise money for them anymore then you’d be out of a job. Please gentlemen, don’t ask me to put you out of a job – not on Christmas eve.”

At least it’s something a bit different. It’s also closer in line to the sarcastic, witty Scrooge of 1951 than any version since.

Bob Cratchit goes home at 7pm (10 hour workdays, 6 days a week, thank god for the labour movement) and asks for half the day off for Christmas. This is the first version where he asks rather than being offered and where he only wants half the day rather than all of it.

Now, who did they choose to play Marley?


Goofy? Why the fuck would anyone want to go into business with Goofy? I literally can’t imagine anyone worse as a business partner. He’s got a massive gambling problem for a start.

I disagree with this casting; Goofy is playing out of type here and is not by nature a Jacob Marley. Oh well, at least he gets to do his signature yell.

Jiminy Cricket is the Ghost of Christmas Past. That makes sense. We get taken straight to Fezzywig’s [sic] party and are introduced to the sentient goose that Donald plans to butcher and ingest.


Lots of cameos in this scene. As you can see, we get the rabbit children from Robin Hood along with a few Aristocats and Extended Duck Universe characters. 

Fezzywig [sic] is…


Mr Toad? From The Adventures of Ichibod and Mr Toad? Not Baloo or… ok, sure, whatever.

We pan over to a young Ebenezer who is described as a “shy young man”. His Belle is Daisy Duck which raises a lot of questions re: intergenerational incest with Donald. (We never meet Fred’s wife in this version, maybe there’s a reason Scrooge disapproves.)

The Ghost of Christmas Present is Willie the Giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk. I guess he retrained following the famine.


He was probably chosen for his size (described in the novella as a “jolly Giant”) but if anything this role could’ve been swapped with Marley. The giant of the Beanstalk story hoards wealth like Marley and Goofy is easily good-spirited and jolly enough to be the Ghost of Present. 

There are natural comparisons to be made between this and the 1971 Richard Williams version and yet the animation styles could not be more different. Both are good in their own rights but I’m struggling to pick out any scene or sequence in this that is particularly well animated or stylishly done. It sometimes feels like it’s going through the motions.

Bob Cratchit’s house then.


I understand why they wanted to cast only existing Disney characters into existing roles but they were scraping the bottom of the barrel here. The Cratchit children are quoted as being drawn from Minnie & Mickey’s nieces and nephews; Millie, Morty, Melody and Ferdie, forgotten ancients who haven’t appear outside of a few comic strips from the 1930s and Disney Golf for the Playstation 2. They are played so far out of character here though that they are essentially different characters. 

The Ghost of Christmas Present tells Scrooge he sees an empty chair etc and Scrooge says “You mean the boy will…” because they can’t say the word “die” in a Disney film. This is immediately followed up by a horrifying scene set in a graveyard with lots of references to graves, dying and death.

(Ignore the ending to that clip.)

The reveal of Pete as Christmas Future is done in two stages and is altogether pretty menacing. 


He’s smoking! You can ___ from smoking.

The shot where Scrooge falls into the grave is reminiscent of the scene from the 1970 version.


Also the weasels from The Fucking Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad are there. Someone in the production team really liked The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad.


Scrooge wakes up a reformed man etc. He accidentally busts his top hat on the way out, which is exactly what happens when Mr Banks reforms in Mary Poppins (maybe this was deliberate?).



Scrooge McDuck then gives 100 gold sovereigns to the chuggers which is a bit less than £5000 in today’s money. We can equivocally state that this is the most generous Scrooge yet. Also, what’s his actual net worth? I hope this is established at some point. That’s a lot of money to just chuck at someone on a whim. Proper philanthropy requires forethought and planning. What an amateur.

We don’t get a “why sir, it’s Christmas day” moment.

This is the first to have Scrooge visit Bob’s house to play a prank on him. Also, Scrooge offers Bob partnership in his business instead of just a raise. I hope Scrooge’s generosity hasn’t gone to his head and Bob has demonstrated enough acumen for this to be worth it. Wouldn’t want to jeopardise the business as a whole. Though I suppose anyone’s better than fucking Goofy.

That’s it really. There aren’t really any clever twists on the original that you would expect from a better Disney cartoon and it’s a fairly straightforward march through the story beats. Well animated but not really well animated.

6 1/2 Victories Through Air Power out of 10

Rule #5 of Chradvent was “easy on the cartoons”. I’ve limited myself to 5 for this month because almost every single cartoon you can think of has done their own version of A Christmas Carol. I think it might be the most adapted property outside of… The Bible? Maybe one of Grimm’s fairy tales. 

A Chradvent Carolendar #9: Rich Little’s Christmas Carol (1979)

I have no idea who Rich Little is. You probably don’t either. What matters is that he was important enough in the late 70s to get his very own Christmas special. 


Does… does that say merriest or messiest? I’ve legitimately no idea but either way we’re in for a treat.

Here’s our man of the hour, Rich Little, who looks exactly like Peter Serafinowicz’s impression of Alan Alda.

1979balanaldaIt quickly becomes clear that impressions are exactly what Rich Little is known for as the title crawl then lists all the famous people he’ll be caricaturing (always a sign of confidence in the impersonator). Is he really planning on recreating A Christmas Carol with various forgotten celebrities?

No, that can’t be it.


Scrooge is W. C. Fields, a man known exclusively for his work in such toilet literature classics as “Grumpy Old Wit” and “1000 Brilliant Quotes”. I had to look up YouTube clips of W. C. Fields shortly after starting because there was no way that a human being could sound like Rich Little does here and not be terminally ill. 

Bob Cratchit is Paul Lynde (me neither) and, instead of being money lenders, the two own a “Boat and Bottle” business, whatever the fuck that is. Rich Little invented an entire industry just so the narrator could say “Bob built the boats and Scrooge emptied the bottles” because Rich Little was unable to do his impression of W. C. Fields without making constant references to the man’s crippling alcoholism.

The jokes are staggeringly weak. They’re not even jokes. Scrooge sings “I’m dreaming of a tight Christmas”. Before asking Scrooge if he can put another log on the fire, Bob jumps up and down and says he’s doing a new dance called “freezing and shivering”. It brings me no great pleasure to say that I’ve seen funnier moments in Scooby Doo. 

There’s an odd moment where Bob has his hand on the stove pipe then realises and draws it away in pain. I am not clear if he is doing that because it is hot (which doesn’t make any sense) or because it is cold (which doesn’t make any sense).


It would make more sense if it his hand froze to the pole but then why would he have this reaction?


I’m not going to dwell on this. Fred enters and it’s Johnny Carson. There’s some terrible continuity editing.



Ever wondered what celebrities think about other peoples impressions of them? Here’s Johnny Carson on Rich Little, straight from Wikipedia:

“Little’s impersonation allegedly got under the skin of Carson and he was permanently banned without notice or reason [from The Tonight Show] after his August 1982 appearance according to Little’s biography, and this claim was supported by Henry Bushkin, Carson’s long-time lawyer, who stated that nobody got under Carson’s skin more than Little.”

You almost gotta try hard to be that bad. The article goes on to say that he hosted the 2007 White House Correspondents Dinner. 

“Although President George W. Bush was reported to have enjoyed Little’s performance, it was panned by some reviewers for “his ancient jokes and impressions of dead people””.

I went back and watched that Correspondents Dinner and… my god. In this clip below, which I implore you desperately to watch, Little tells an extremely prolonged joke about hunters who confuse deer tracks with train tracks, berates the audience for not “getting the joke”, then, for no reason, singles out and insults journalists from the New York Times, promising to send them copies of Bill O’Reilly’s book “Culture Warrior”.

The chuggers are Laurel and Hardy.


His Stan is fine but his Oliver is awful. There is a lot of slapstick in this movie and it is all awful.


It’s even worse with sound – you can hear his feet hitting the bottom of the door frame way before his face makes contact, completely telegraphing the joke.

Someone made this! Money, time and effort went into this!

Very odd sequence:

Scrooge sees Cratchit working, sneaks up on him, causes him to break the boat he’s made and then reprimands him for not doing the work he was just doing. Very out of character for both Scrooge and W. C. Fields. Also I’m not sure that’s quite how you get a boat into a bottle.


Scrooge enters his house and his nose glows. Took me a while to get this one before I realised it was meant to imply he was drunk. Undercut by 1) his nose not being red in any other scene before or after and 2) by it being a clearly visible comic relief-style prop red nose.

Jacob Marley is Richard Nixon.


I will give this film its credit, there are four (4) good jokes in total and two of them are here. The first is that instead of Marley’s chains he has the reels of the Watergate tape. The second is his line

“Expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one. The second 18 and a half minutes later.”

Even then it’s a 3 out of 5. Then he goes ahead and ruins the joke 10 seconds later by turning to the camera and saying “they’ll never let me forget those 18 and a half minutes”. Why does every line in this sound like it was written by an alien?

The grave/ gravy joke is gone because it would make Rich Little’s material look weak by comparison. I double checked and, yes, Rich Little is the only credited writer.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is Humphrey Bogart.


By now we see a pattern. The impression appears, with a heavy reliance on costume, and delivers a few lines from their original property with a Christmas twist. Except here Humphrey Bogart doesn’t even bother festivising it:

“In all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world I had to walk into his”

He takes us back to Fezziwig’s “boat and bottle warehouse” party where Jimmy Stewart plays Dick Wilkins (remember that unforgettable timeless character) who lectures Scrooge for being miserly. I thought the whole point was that Scrooge only became miserly when he turned his back on Fezziwig’s outlook later in life?

Also Fezziwig is Groucho Marx.


We get a musical number here called “Typical Office Party” where Groucho goes around pinching womens’ bums. Oof.

Did you know HBO made this? I’ll never be able to watch The Sopranos again.

Ok, past is over now. Time for Present. Who could it be?


Oh, it’s Columbo. Hello Columbo.

I won’t fault him when he succeeds, his Peter Falk is fairly good. But he brings us into the most batshit insane Christmas Present segment I’ve seen yet.

For a start, Mrs Cratchit is Edith Bunker. From All In The Family.


But here’s the best bit. Stop the fucking presses everyone, Tiny Tim is TRUMAN CAPOTE played by an ACTUAL CHILD.


Not only this, but we never get a single line of dialogue to suggest that Tiny Tim is ill. Nor do we ever see him again. He’s not even mentioned. We don’t see the grieving Cratchits or Tim’s gravestone. The entire centrepiece of A Christmas Carol is chucked out of the fucking window.

Disappointingly, we cut to a closeup of Rich Little for a couple of Tim/ Truman lines. The bad news is that I was expecting the child to do it. The good news is that Rich Little’s impression sounds like Droopy Dog.

Following exchange between Peter Cratchit and Bob:

“What do you think of the meal we’ve prepared for you father?”


If I was Tiny Tim with a father as mean spirited as that (probably as a result of a lifetime of repressed homosexuality) I’d happily welcome death.

Who’s the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?


Fuck off. Inspector Clouseau? It’s not even an impression. It’s just a French accent. That’s it! There is literally no more to it than an accent, the costume and the Pink Panther theme playing in the background. That is not an impression. That is nothing. It is a true void of creativity and the single worst characterisation for Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come possible. It is. I have thought about it and there is no worse candidate for the Ghost of Christmas Future than a bad impression of Inspector Clouseau. It is the endgame. “It’s a comedy” I hear you say. “Live a little” I hear you say. Well it’s also a story, and up to this point it has at least attempted to hit some of the beats of the classic it is attempting to replicate. So go fuck yourself.

The placement of impressions is arbitrary. It’s totally random. Paul Lynde is Bob Cratchit simply because Rich Little can do Paul Lynde and needed to put him in somewhere. No more thought went into it.

As a result of the Pink Panther theme forming a large part of his impression of Clouseau, this becomes the second film of Chradvent to feature the music of Henry Mancini. Rich Little seems to have a bit of a history with Blake Edwards; he occasionally provided the voice for the otherwise silent cartoon Pink Panther character (foreshadowing Clouseau’s loud Future ghost) and provided the dub for David Niven in some of the Panther sequels. Why? Who knows. I suppose this also makes this the second film of Chradvent to feature Peter Sellers, in one way or another. No wonder he died the next year.

We then cut to the future as the gentlemen outside the bank discuss the death of a mystery man (hint: it’s Scrooge). We get James Mason


George Burns




John Wayne? In full cowboy gear? Mr Little, is your impression of him really so bad that you have to dress him like a cowboy even though everyone else is dressed like a Victorian? 

Don’t answer that.

We get one of the four good jokes in the graveyard scene.

“You have never lifted a finger to help anyone!”

“That’s not true. I’ve given many people who needed my help the finger.”

It’s then immediately undercut by some fucking stupid awful unfunny slapstick. Not even going to clip it. Clouseau falls in the grave. When helping him up, Scrooge notices that his own name is on the gravestone and drops Clouseau back in again. He promises to reform and give up liquor and we return to the present.

Scrooge has now given up liquor, completely destroying his business model. If Bob built the boats and Scrooge emptied the bottles then what possible role in the business could Scrooge now occupy? He’s definitely shown no marketing or sales acumen heretofore. This also throws Bob’s situation directly into question and could jeopardise the life of Tiny Tim even further if only he hadn’t been introduced and then immediately forgotten.

The fourth good joke comes as Fred offers a reformed Scrooge a belt of scotch. It’s more like a half good joke.

“A drink? No, I cant stand the sight of the stuff”

“I know, that’s why you drink, to get it out of your sight.”

It’s uneven. The idea is there, but the execution is way off. 

Oh, not to worry, they get Dean Martin to empty the bottles instead – except his voice is off screen because Rich Little can’t do a convincing enough physical impression/ doesn’t have access to a tuxedo. And it still means that Scrooge’s role in the business is completely redundant. Good. I hope he dies.

At the end of the film, all the characters we now know and love turn to the camera and personally thank Rich Little.

What a shitshow. This might be the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

0.5 out of 10

Almost gave this a 0 but, to be fair, his Columbo was good. That said, I have no reservations in describing this as the most Inferior adaptation of any property across all media and time.

A Chradvent Carolendar #8: A Christmas Carol (1971)

First cartoon of Chradvent!

A Christmas Carol (1971) was animated by Richard Williams (the mastermind behind the animation in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the essential Animator’s Survival Kit and semi-lost animated feature The Thief and the Cobbler).

Also on the team was Ken Harris who animated the greatest animated short of all time with the producer of this film Chuck Jones. As a result, this is fucking beautiful.

Remember the incredible title cards from the 1970 version?


Yeah well fuck you how about 24 of those every second?


Alastair Sim and Michael Horden reprise their roles from the 1951 film as Scrooge and Marley respectively. Their performances are nowhere near as dynamic or interesting as in 1951 because these versions of the characters are severely abridged to make way for reproducing A Christmas Carol as simply as possible. Each essential beat of the story follows the previous. Marley knocker. Marley ghost. Grave/ gravy. Christmas Past. The bare essentials. There is no story department because the story is a wire frame from which to hang some very pretty pictures. As such, all things considered, this is probably the most faithful adaptation yet. 

This is the opening shot; an extended pan and zoom using extreme perspective and fluid camera movements to introduce us immediately to Scrooge. No messing around.


Props to Richard Williams for being the first director to faithfully adapt the original description of the Ghost of Christmas Past that I mentioned previously as:

“being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom where in they melted away”


Although, to their credit, I suppose replicating the effect in live action would probably put too much strain on the actor’s spine.

The character animation is incredible. Ken Harris was responsible for Scrooge; I’ve clipped him delivering his surplus population line. So, so good.


And here when we see Scrooge aging up, transitioning between segments in the Past stave.


The film races through Christmas Past, faithfully hitting each essential story beat for the bare minimum amount of time necessary. It was only scrolling through the YouTube comments afterwards did user 2071Johnny raise a very good point about the inclusion of the scene where Belle breaks up with Scrooge:

“You could’ve fast forwarded past that, spirit. In not one single installment has the lose end of his love life ever been tied up. Kind of a harsh filler.”

And you know what, he’s absolutely right. The other segments of Past (school, Fezziwig) allow Scrooge to reflect on his issues around loneliness and making merry. They’re both tied up in the end as part of Scrooge’s redemption arc. But the love angle of the Scrooge story is literally never resolved. It is established across multiple versions that Belle was the only person Scrooge ever loved and it is always left unresolved. Always.

[Edit: I have been informed that the arc is resolved in Scrooged. I look forward to watching it later this month.]

And while we’re on the subject, why does Scrooge die if he doesn’t reform? Does he get murdered? Do the spirits murder him? Does Bob Cratchit murder him? Is it the raw power of Christmas bonhomie that keeps his yuletide heart beating?

Back to pretty shots.


There really isn’t much else to say. I would only remark that Alastair Sim is probably there for nostalgia; he is not replicating his 1951 performance as his version of Scrooge is very different to Richard William’s version of Scrooge. That was fine for that and this is fine for this. Sim reads the lines well and you can tell the voice direction was good but it does not reach the lofty heights of his 1951 characterisation.

You have to consider what a project is trying to achieve when evaluating how good it is. This project achieved exactly that which it set out to achieve; to animate A Christmas Carol. It was unconcerned with frills or interpretation.
As such rating it as I have done this past week becomes incredibly difficult. As an adaptation of A Christmas Carol it is far from Superior but as a short film in its own right it is absolutely exceptional.

6 Garrett Gilchrist restorations out of 10 with the caveat that in any other context it’d be a 9 or 10

I might retcon this rating later, I’m more uncertain of this than any rating yet. It’s a third rate adaptation but a first rate cartoon.

A Chradvent Carolendar #7: Scrooge (1970)

Who here likes fun? Yesterday’s entry was as bleak and depressing as a book by Charles Dickens so for day seven we’re jumping straight into a musical. A real musical, not this tepid bullshit.

Albert Finney stars as Scrooge in Scrooge with music by Leslie Bricusse, a man whose musical prowess sits at the intersection of Willy Wonka and Goldfinger. Directed by the Poseidon Adventure guy. Ok.


I groaned when I saw the length. I’ve already sunk over seven hours of film watching time into this fucking project. Lucky, most of that extra length in this film comes from musical numbers and not bloated storytelling. (I then checked the length for some of the upcoming adaptations and they are not so kind.)

[Joke time] Who needs an entire film to tell us what Han Solo got up to before Star Wars?


Rob by name rob by nature [smuggling joke]

The title cards for this film are all really beautifully drawn by Ronald Searle and MUST be appreciated. Take some time to appreciate them now, please.

Thank you. 


We’re now in colour! We’re also now in cockney accents, the first I’ve heard all December. People actually look grimy and Victorian and no-one more so than our Ebenezer Scrooge.


This Scrooge is a pantomime Scrooge; a true miser who walks around with a crooked spine and an old man voice. He leaves his house undusted, he keeps a purse of money around his neck at all times and keeps keys for safes inside other safes (saves? – Ed). Contrast him to the well-dressed, city boy Alastair Sim Scrooge. I think they’re good examples of how far in either direction you can go with naturalism and still deliver a good performance. There’s nothing realistic about Albert Finney’s performance but nor does there need to be. It is campy and fun and right for a musical.

Odd moment as he reproaches Fred for marrying “that idiot lovesick female”. Either he’s a misogynist, he’s envious of Fred’s romantic success or he’s gay. I shall bare these in mind as I proceed.

We spend some time with Bob Cratchit going about doing Christmas business and when he bursts into this song I suddenly sat up, something was weird. Then I realised I hadn’t heard a proper song in my real life since starting this project a week ago. That was a big moment. (This project takes about 5 hours every day in watching/ writing/ editing.)

Roy Kinnear is one of the chuggers! Fun little play on the scene that is usually really boring to watch.


This is one of those Christmas Carols where Scrooge hates the poor and wants them to die. I’ll give him that – it’s a non political family movie, he’s allowed to be the villain. It’s exemplified in the next musical number:

And it’s during this number that I realise: this is a proper musical. Oh it’s a proper musical! With choreography and talent involved! Praise the fucking lord.

Fight me or die, coward.

There’s lots of faff and ghost stuff then Alec Guinness waltzes in (literally).


“If I’m going to play a fucking ghost I may as well have fun with it.”

Funny little moment when Scrooge asks him to sit.


Another version where we skip the grave/ gravy line. Odd because the tone’s campy enough for it to fit.

Cute moment where we can see the strings holding up Alec Guinness.


The arrow wasn’t in the blu-ray release by the way, I did that in MS Paint. It would’ve been even more obvious had they added it though, so I can understand why they didn’t.

Only the second film (after 1951) to show the wandering phantoms. Cool little visual effects and Alec Guinness even gets his own beat poem.


Dirty, dirty, DIRTY fingernails. I guess this was Scrooge’s Manus Horriblus. 


Then, as quickly as Alec Guinness dances in, Alec Guinness dances out.


The Ghost of Christmas Past, who is played by Lady Bracknell and is an insanely uninteresting characterisation, takes us back to Scrooge’s childhood fairly promptly. We see children leaving the school dressed in their Traditional Christmas Costumes (?) such as Statue of Liberty, Indian Sikh and Carrot.


Scrooge’s sister Fanny is in this version, a lesson well learned from 1951, but she doesn’t appear beyond a couple of scenes early on in Christmas past to establish that their father was neglectful to Scrooge. We do not see how he was neglectful and we do not know if Scrooge staying at school over Christmas was his decision. The ghost mentions that Fan “died a woman” (odd, not sure what they meant) and that Fred was her son but we do not go into the maternal mortality territory of the Alastair Sim version. I can understand why but committing to go halfway seems a bit pointless.

To Fezziwig then. Scrooge was apprenticed alongside a man called Dick. We are treated to the following homosexual outburst from Scrooge:

“My word I am a good looking chap. Strong too; I used to carry sacks around all day. That’s Dick Wilkins. Nice young fellow. Very attached to me, was he.”

Was he now, Ebenezer.

Young Scrooge is later asked to dance, says no and, when asked why, old Scrooge replies “Because I couldn’t do it”. 



At this point I stopped to marvel at how much young Scrooge looked like Albert Finney. Two seconds of research revealed to me, the idiot, that young Scrooge was Albert Finney. he was then aged up for the rest of the film. Comparison shot:


42 years earlier and still better looking than Peter Weyland.

The scene that shot is from is the scene where Belle (revealed to be Fezziwig’s daughter) leaves Scrooge because he bloody loves his money so much. It’s broadly the same scene as the 1951 version but lacks the same emotional resonance because Scrooge has not been shown to have the ideological investment in capitalism that Alastair Sim did; he just bloody loves money. There’s a lot of focus on Belle in this segment and the two even get one of these.

Scrooge cries after the visitation.


Then it is time for the of Christmas Present.


I feel like this is probably the most visually faithful depiction of the spirit yet and Kenneth More does a great job. However, this spirit has an odd way of talking and is insanely rude to Scrooge; he invites him to “come up here, you weird little man”, calls him a “funny looking little creature” and then says Earth is a “puny little planet”. What is he, a fucking alien? 

They fly like that bit in Superman over to the Cratchit house. Mrs Cratchit is played by the Grandma from Friday Night Dinner and, upon the controversial toast to Mr Scrooge, they have a short Marxist exchange.

We don’t get an “empty crutch” line and Present leaves us on: “My time upon this little planet is very brief. I must leave you now.” Back to fucking Mars presumably.

We then meet the Ghost of Christmas Present. I’m sorry, but I can’t not look at him and see Cool Guy.


An extremely positive change: almost all of the Future scenes have been completely reworked and turned into this one musical number, which is also the best number in the entire film:

It’s a nice alternative to the awful, obvious stuff in the original. Here, the coffin is revealed to the audience but not to Scrooge. It is just as convenient for the story without being lame and boring. But then, learning about the death of Tiny Tim he says “Spirit, you have shown me a Christmas yet to come that mingles great happiness with great sadnesss”. The true nature of the parade is forever left unknown to Scrooge. He identifies his gravestone but doesn’t appear to make a conscious connection to the parade at all. I feel like we missed out on a potentially tragic moment there.

In the graveyard then, we pan over a series of gravestones, some with amazing faux-Dickensian names, to meet Bob.


Bob says goodbye to Tiny Tim, we get Scrooge’s gravestone reveal and he promises to reform.

But no! That is not the end! The Future Ghost takes off his cloak to reveal a skull and Scrooge, in shock, falls backward into the now bottomless grave. We get the following scene that looks and sounds like a cross between 2001: A Space Oddyssey and the opening minute of the 1989 version of the BFG.

Scrooge is now in Hell because this is the 1970s, baby. The Beatles are dead and so is God. The following shots look more like something from Dune than A Christmas Carol.


Oh yeah, Alec Guinness is back! He shows Scrooge his future room in Hell and says that Lucifer has made Scrooge his personal clerk. Scrooge begs him, saying “that’s unfair” but I dunno man, sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. I doubt Satan has much in the way of deductables.

Scrooge is then bound in chains by who I can only describe as four huge hot sweaty men.


A literally frigid prisoner of his own repressed homosexuality.

Scrooge wakes up, he’s light as a feather, happy as a schoolboy, buys a turkey yada yada yada. He diverts to the toy shop and enlists – quote – “the services of several boys” to help him deliver presents to the Cratchit’s house (sure, whatever). He also puts on a Father Christmas outfit on the way. He gives the Cratchit girls some dolls, Peter Cratchit an entire armful of miscellaneous weapons (0.26 in the clip below) while Tiny Tim gets a toy carousel and some free surgery.

With the reprise of the following song, Scrooge’s arc is completed:

The Thank You Very Much song comes full circle and Scrooge’s fantasy interpretation is realised (not that he ever thought otherwise).

Was hugely disappointed when the newly adorned Alec Guinness-knocker didn’t wink.


This is the first truly family friendly adaptation of A Christmas Carol and it ends on a true musical finale. It’s joyous. Scrooge is a caricature yes, but the specific aims of this version have to be appreciated – it is a huge success in what it sets out to accomplish and should be measured by those goals and not simply comparing it to the original Dickens.

7 1/2 huge hot sweaty men out of 10

I wish I could give this higher, I wish I could. I’m trying to keep my ratings objective – after all, we’re here to identify which adaptation is Superior – but even joy, wonder and musical magic can’t make up for the fact that this Scrooge is underdeveloped and overacted.


A Chradvent Carolendar #6: A Carol For Another Christmas (1964)

A Carol for Another Christmas was the first in a series of television specials commissioned by the United Nations to promote and educate viewers about its mission. With an elevator pitch like that we can’t go wrong, can we? Can we? Can we?

Turns out we can’t, this was pretty good. Horribly depressing but good.

A lot of very talented people worked on this. It was directed and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, written by Rod Serling, with music by Henry Mancini, and starring Sterling Hayden and Peter Sellers among many others.

There’s a lot to dissect. It’s bleak, it’s political and it’s heavily didactic. It makes George Bernard Shaw look like Roy Chubby Brown. I shall warn you, this blog post will be extremely light on jokes. If you want jokes I suggest going back to #5 and rereading that. (You are reading these in order as they come out, right?)

The film takes its time to establish itself and over the first four minutes we get four extended sequences. The first is a series of outside wintertime establishing shots. The second follows Charles, an African-American butler, as he tends to his duties around a mansion. As you can see, the table is set for two. The third sees a solemn figure sitting in total darkness listening to upbeat wartime music. In the fourth we see him wring his hands as he pores over a collection of medals and old photographs. With no narrator or dialogue we have already established a few of essential facts about what is obviously our Scrooge.

He is more alone than he wants to be, he is wealthy, and he has a relationship with the military. This film was made at the height of the Cold War so will it be about The Bomb?

You might be thinking that Charles the Butler is our Bob Cratchit. Well you’d be quite wrong, you absolute moron. We get Fred, Scrooge, a bit of Marley, the spirits and that’s it, very little of the original story remains. We also get a hospital scene where some children, in the aftermath of Hiroshima, are shown to have literally had their faces melted off. I’m fairly sure that was in early drafts of the Dickens.

This version of Fred might be my favourite version of Fred. He’s more solemn, isn’t simply a vessel for bonhomie, and sounds like Bing Crosby. He has a complicated relationship with his Uncle, whose name we learn is Daniel Grudge, fostered on political disagreements. They constantly snipe at each other in the way that only people who know each other extremely well do.

“Well now nephew, which one of your many causes brings you out into the snowy night? What is it this time, a movement to donate the Mississippi river to the Sahara desert?”

“You can do better than that.”

“Not with a full stomach I can’t.”

Sharp, witty, full of character. At one point halfway through this film I realised I was just transcribing dialogue rather than taking notes. The script is by far the strongest part of this film (though it is also beautifully directed).

We learn that Grudge has used his considerable unseen influence to block an educational exchange programme at a local University between an American and a Polish professor. Grudge is fearful of Communists and does not like the progressive, humanitarian work that Fred does with what we presume is the UN (we only get a brief namedrop until the last 15 minutes of the film).

Grudge believes that every man is an island. It is Scrooge’s “let me keep Christmas in my own way” extrapolated to it’s logical contemporary extreme; nationalist conservative politics. This is Grudge’s equivalent to a hatred of Christmas. The problem is that the execution of his redemption arc is incredibly confusing. The film is anti-war but pro-intervention. A full half of the Ghost of Christmas Past is an argument where Grudge argues with the spirit that the World Wars were not America’s to fight but also that the only humanitarian aid the poor need is the shelter provided by America’s nuclear umbrella.

It is the kind of moral ambiguity that can only have come from an extremely specific commission brief from a 1960s UN that needed to both a) protest the use of nuclear weapons and b) be prepared to justify intervention into countries prepared to use nuclear weapons. On paper these may sound compatible but they do not convert into the black and white moral message dictated by the A Christmas Carol story.


Here we see Fred and Grudge, with Grudge’s dead son Marley in portrait form between them. Clever shot that visually demonstrates the structure of the Uncle-Nephew relationship. Marley is the reason the two still talk to each other and his death is the driving force behind Grudge’s anti-interventionist ideology. He died in World War Two and is for whom Grudge sets the table on Christmas Eve. 

Marley never says a word and is only briefly glimpsed here in what is also the coolest, most eerie revelation of his I’ve seen yet.


They don’t need Marley to say that Grudge is going to be haunted because it’s all cleverly implied in the previous Grudge/ Fred conversation. (Note – I later learned that they did film a scene like that but it got cut.)

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a WW1 soldier who first argues with Grudge on a boat carrying corpses home and then shows him Grudge’s own visit to Hiroshima in the September after the war. Here we meet the aforementioned butchered children. The exact dialogue in the build up to the reveal is between a Japanese doctor and Grudge, a colonel at the time, and is as follows:

“When the plane flew overhead these children looked up at the sky. Their faces were upturned to the blast. They suffered what we call flashbang. It is a term we used to describe instantaneous thermal radiation.”

“How badly were they burned?”

“They have no more faces, Commander.”


Jesus Christ.

The doctor tells the children (who are still alive, by the way) that the American naval officers have come to “wish them well”. The irony is not lost on the audience or by the actor, who delivers it perfectly.

There’s a lot of this kind of stuff and I won’t go into it all. It’s fairly grim and at times narratively messy but always very sharply written and directed.

Grudge is extremely mercenary and is obsessed with statistics and military utilitarianism. He makes the old argument about the necessity of dropping the bomb to shorten the war. So then why is he so anti-interventionist? By this point his son had died, surely?

The following clip from a scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present has him directly confront that aspect of Grudge’s personality. (It’s also, simultaneously, the best acted scene in the film and representative of all of its problems.)

There are lots of well made humanitarian points throughout these segments:

“If you shared a loaf of bread with them how would you be relinquishing your freedom? If you joined other nations to administer vaccines to their children how would you have desecrated your flag?”

It reads like Marx. I admire the boldness of programming something so dark, heavy handed and didactic, billing itself as an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, on prime time ABC in the 60s. But I can’t help but feel that it’s not the kind of thing that an audience that broad would respond to well. The channel executives knew best I suppose!

Superb transition into the Future Ghost. Shows how much you can do with a small television budget and precipitates what Rod Sterling would later do in The Twilight Zone. 1949’s adaptation has no excuse.

We’re in the nuclear apocalypse now and Peter Sellers takes over as Imperial Me, a satirical non-interventionist and social libertarian. Maybe he’s meant to be an objectivist; he actively espouses the worth of greed and self interest. Did Rod Serling and Ayn Rand ever meet? I’d watch that biopic. Regardless, it’s very out of tone with the rest of the film and by far the most heavy handed scene. Grudge says the crowd are insane and we get a moment where Future turns to him and says Aha! But it’s what YOU believe!!

Peter Sellers is quite good but I have no idea what accent he is going for here. I think it’s Louisiana.


A future version of Charles stands as the sole voice of reason delivering a passionate speech about the values of diplomacy, democracy and international cooperation to a crowd that boos him so vociferously that he breaks into tears.


Interesting to note that a black actor has a major role in a mainstream American drama from 1964 where his race is never mentioned or openly politicised.

There’s no tacked-on gravestone sequence just because “that’s what you do”. I like that. 

You’d think the resolution would be that Grudge would wake up, announce to Fred that he would allow the cultural exchange and then invite him over for dinner to sit in Marley’s seat. Instead, he merely apologises and then looks pensive drinking his morning cup of coffee as the credits play.

I usually like it when the message isn’t spelled out but Grudge’s resolution here is extremely unsatisfying. Because it’s difficult to pinpoint his precise politics at the beginning it’s difficult to see how he’s changed and how his actions will have consequences, especially as how the only person with whom he ever interacts is Fred.

I have a lot of sympathies with this production; it was broadcast with no commercial breaks and the actors all waived their fees (with the exception of Sellers who took a reduced fee of $350 from $750,000). It was clearly made with good intentions even though the internal politics are extremely confusing and heavy handed. 

I’d actually thoroughly recommend this if you’re into alternative Christmas films and Cold War domestic American politics. The dialogue is really fun to listen to and the acting is universally pretty great. 

7 nuclear warheads aimed directly at Charles Dickens’ face out of 10


Wow, this one was really was light on jokes. Realistically depicted nuclear holocaust will do that to you, I suppose.