Balladeer’s Blog’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon for 2017 continues! This time around I’m examining a 1965 production from California PBS station KCET. The title may not sound action-packed and appealing but Dr Frank Baxter was to the 1950s and 1960s what Carl Sagan and The Reduced Shakespeare Company were to later decades.
Just as The Reduced Shakespeare Company made the works of the Bard of Avon more accessible and therefore more popular among non-Shakespeare fans Dr Baxter’s Shakespeare on TV series inspired younger generations to take an interest in the works of the great Elizabethan playwright.
And like Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos made him a virtual rockstar of the scientific field Dr Baxter’s entertaining and educational Bell Laboratory Science Series of film shorts made him enormously popular among teachers and students in every school that used those shorts as classroom aids. The Bell Laboratory Science Series educational shorts were so effective and beloved they were still being used in the 70s and 80s.
This black & white hour-long holiday special features Baxter at a podium giving a lively reading from a very condensed version of A Christmas Carol. Immediately this will put Carol fanatics like myself in mind of Patrick Stewart’s magnificent one-man stage performance of the Carol AND of the 1994 program Bah! Humbug! which featured James Earl Jones and Martin Sheen doing dramatic readings from the Dickens story in front of a live audience.
Baxter can’t match those thespians in terms of drama but his genial air makes the special enjoyable enough and his periodic explanatory comments to the audience work as well as his charming lessons on Shakespeare must have. Doc Baxter ad libs a few times which might infuriate Carol purists but at least to me these departures from the actual text weren’t very distressing.
If you’re looking for something a little different in a Carol rendition then this little honey which continues Dickens’ own tradition of giving public readings from this story is pretty enjoyable.
FOR MORE VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/a-christmas-carol-2/