MERRY CHRISTMAS! Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2019, Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon, comes to a close with a review of this 2019 item.
2nd CHANCE FOR CHRISTMAS (2019) – (Special thanks to Balladeer’s Blog reader Lee Ann for recommending this Carol to me.)
Directed by Christopher Ray, this is an adaptation of the Dickens classic and sets the story in the present-day. The Scrooge stand-in is a Country Western singer named Chance Love (Brittany Underwood). My fellow Carol enthusiasts will immediately be put in mind of A Diva’s Christmas Carol, reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog.
2nd Chance For Christmas shrewdly stakes out its own territory so that it stands out from the Vanessa Williams flick about a pop starlet named Ebony Williams. In addition the film shrewdly used a numerical designation for the first word in the title rather than spelling out “Second” ensuring it will be listed ahead of movies whose titles begin with any letters at all.
Brittany Underwood does a very good job as Chance, the mean-spirited and selfish singing starlet who abuses everyone around her. Every step of the way Underwood is up to the demands of the storyline and manages her comedic parts well, always the toughest challenge.
In fact nearly all the comedy bits in 2nd Chance For Christmas are well-written and well-executed, so I will avoid any spoilers regarding the jokes so as not to ruin them for first-time viewers. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon hurls toward its finale tomorrow! Here’s a look at yet another version of the Dickens Yuletide classic. And remember, if you have any 11 + sauce to spare in this holiday season, please donate it to the Ethan Van Sciver family.
A SESAME STREET CHRISTMAS CAROL (2006) – This 46 minute special, which presents Oscar the Grouch as the Ebenezer Scrooge substitute, opens and closes with some very Christmassy scenes of artificial snow falling on the Sesame Street set. The apartments on that street are all decorated for the holiday so everything looks very festive.
Obviously this version of A Christmas Carol is aimed at children and pretty much only children so don’t expect the broader appeal that lies in A Muppet Christmas Carol. Still, anyone with children of their own or nieces or nephews or really young siblings can take 46 minutes to hang out with the kids while they enjoy this.
The story does not follow the actual plot of A Christmas Carol but instead uses the ghostly visits as framing devices for short sketches featuring the likes of Big Bird, Tickle-Me-Elmo, Bert & Ernie, Snuffle-upagus and Mr Hooper. This is ideal for children’s shorter attention spans while the adults can enjoy long-ago clips from when Hooper and the original voice actors for those Muppets were all still alive.
We start with Oscar the Grouch trying to barricade himself in his garbage can to avoid all that mushy Christmas cheer. He is visited by Joe Marley, a Muppet who works as a delivery man for the Scaredy-Pants Delivery Service. Marley informs the annoyed Oscar that he will be receiving three packages which contain Ghost-O-Grams. Continue reading
Yes, it’s a Marvel Comics crossover with Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon! With all of the Marvel superheroes conquering the big and small screens here’s an action-packed Christmas Carol adaptation from the 1970s.
Jingle Bombs was the real title of this holiday tale which pitted superhero Luke Cage aka Hero for Hire aka Power Man against the one-off supervillain called Marley. Like a Guest Villain from the Adam West Batman show Marley uses a campy Christmas Carol motif for his nefarious plan … yet, oddly the story is kind of quaint.
On Christmas Eve, Luke Cage is hanging out with his then-girlfriend Claire Temple, a nurse who worked at a clinic in the New York ghetto. Later on in the series Claire would be the center of a romantic triangle between Luke Cage and another of Marvel’s black superheroes – Black Goliath, Hank Pym’s former lab assistant who used Pym’s inventions to turn to giant-size and back.
As night approaches Luke sees a ruckus outside the clinic: a man in Dickensian 1800s clothing is using his walking stick to beat a little handicapped boy named Timmy. Our hero goes out to save the little boy and is attacked by the strange man, who identifies himself as “Marley.” Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog continues its TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon!
JON MALIN’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (2019) – We can all have A Very Malin Christmas with this audio play version of A Christmas Carol. Internet cult figure CECIL of Cecil Says fame stars as Scrooge and, since he sounds a lot like Buddy Hackett he gives this Carol a healthy retro feel so young and old alike can enjoy it.
Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember Jon Malin from Graveyard Shift Volume Two, covered earlier this year. Rest assured this Yuletide production is very holiday-ish, lest Malin’s association with the monsters from Graveyard Shift cause raised eyebrows (except by Malin himself, of course, who is often ribbed for supposedly not having any).
Productions of A Christmas Carol are all about who plays Scrooge, naturally, and Cecil, “who is life AND who is love” as the saying goes, doesn’t disappoint. And best of all this Carol is being done for charity, raising money for some wonderful people. No, not the Malin Militia, but the good people at Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Moving on to the Carol itself: Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this review!
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2015) – This 59 minute rendition of the Dickens Yuletide classic is often referred to as “the Colin Baker version.” Too bad Baker can’t sue somebody over that, since he had nothing to do with this laughable production beyond portraying Charles Dickens and narrating the story.
CHARLES WHO? – Colin “Doctor Who” Baker plays an elderly Charles Dickens serving as the story’s narrator … and misquoting much of his own work since this is one of those versions where the filmmakers feel they can “improve” on what Dickens wrote.
It’s one thing to try to colloquialize the Victorian prose which some viewers find challenging but it’s something else again to insert bland nothings in place of the original dialogue. Dickens’ exchanges often flow smoothly, with one character’s line perfectly setting up another character’s response. Here we have conversations as boring and unmemorable as those in real life. (That’s not a compliment.)
Baker is introduced in a clever (I’m being charitable) bit of business in which his image is as fuzzy as an old silent movie and he sounds tinny, like in Thomas Edison’s oldest recordings. I guess it’s done to capture an “old-timey” feel but the novel came in 1843, long before even such primitive recording equipment was available.
Soon the image improves to conventional standards (well, sort of) and the sound improves to 1950s television levels. Unfortunately, this is a 2015 production, not a 1950s presentation, and the weak, amateurish sound work will plague this Carol the rest of the way.
Colin Baker is the best part of this production and his effortless charm and captivating delivery make it clear how badly the other players lack the acting ability and the strong voices needed to be effective in their roles.
ANTHONY D.P. MANN – Mann IS Tim Conway’s Mr Tudbole as Ebenezer Scrooge! Well, without the moustache. Mann has a history of placing himself in the starring roles of his productions and never fails to put me in mind of Conway. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog continues its TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon!
TAKUGINAI (December 1988) – As always I enjoy reviewing some of the most obscure and/ or neglected versions of the Carol that I can find.
Takuginai was (and is) broadcast by the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The half-hour program is a clever and energetic children’s show.
In December of 1988 Takuginai‘s usual blend of puppetry and live-action squeezed in a cartoon version of A Christmas Carol as well. The animation is very VERY limited: think Clutch Cargo then strip away all the dazzling technical prowess. (Yes, it’s THAT limited.) Continue reading
Time for another post in Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH annual orgy of entries on various versions of THE Christmas tale. The Charles Dickens classic has a certain unquenchable charm that ensures it will continue to be adapted for at least another few hundred years.
“Blame Canada” for today’s version of A Christmas Carol. In 1978 Theatre Three in Edmonton, Alberta filmed their stage adaptation of the Carol and broadcast it in the USA as well as their own country. It’s been popping up on PBS and various cable outlets ever since. “Minimalist” would be the watchword for this version, from the nearly bare stage to the slimmed- down cast.
Marley’s Ghost not only chews Scrooge out in the usual way, but serves as Ebenezer’s ghostly guide through Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues with this review.
THE GUTHRIE THEATER PRESENTS A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1982) – Stage performances of any story getting filmed for video are pretty hit and miss, but this production is much more of a hit than a miss. The Guthrie Theater Presents A Christmas Carol was filmed at the famed Minnesota theater of the title and aired on The Entertainment Channel in 1982 before being released on VHS.
This presentation of the Dickens classic uses the framing device of Charles Dickens (Marshall Borden) himself being persuaded by Christmas party guests to treat them to his most famous Yuletide ghost story. Dickens is at first reluctant since he’s feeling a bit harried and stressed out, so he huffily clears the room.
Needless to say the act of recounting A Christmas Carol to us viewers winds up restoring his holiday cheer. By the time he closes the framing device at the end of the play he’s as jovial and hearty as Nephew Fred and delivers the whole “good old city, town or boro in the good old world” speech with memorable panache. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues! Yes, it’s the Christmas Carol adaptation NOBODY asked for … not even KEN!
BARBIE IN A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2008) – Mattel provides us with a plastic version of the Carol in a plastic cartoon about its plastic creation Barbie. Just as Mr Magoo was an actor portraying Scrooge in Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol, Barbie is the story-teller relating the tale to her younger sister Kelly.
As in A Diva’s Christmas Carol the Scrooge stand-in here is a female singing star – Eden Starling. Eden’s mean-spirited Aunt Marie has spent a lifetime molding the young songstress into an equally unpleasant figure complete with Aunt Marie’s credo: “In a selfish world, the selfish succeed.” Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog’s TENTH Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon continues!
THE MERCURY THEATER PRESENTS A CHRISTMAS CAROL – In 1938, the same year as the Mercury Theater’s legendary War of the Worlds radio broadcast, came this presentation of the Dickens classic.
By December 23rd, the date of the Christmas Carol broadcast, the radio show had gained a sponsor and was technically called Campbell Playhouse, but the Mercury Theater affiliation was still well-known.
I prefer the 1938 Mercury Theater version to the 1939 version. In 1938 Orson Welles narrated AND played Ebenezer Scrooge, while in 1939 Welles narrated but the venerable Lionel Barrymore, in poor health, limped along as Scrooge. It’s not Barrymore’s fault, of course, but that is why the 1939 version edits down Scrooge’s lines so much to spare Lionel. Filler material was thrown in at the end to pad out the on-air performance since so much was cut. Continue reading