Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog


A Carol ChristmasA CAROL CHRISTMAS (2003) – Here’s another entry in Balladeer’s Blog’s Twelfth Annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon. This version is one of the many that tries mining laughs out of setting the Dickens classic in the modern age. These adaptations have varying degrees of success and on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this effort a 6.5.

A Carol Christmas isn’t trying to be the most touching or the funniest rendition of A Christmas Carol, it’s just a pleasant, fluffy diversion for the Christmas season. Tori Spelling stars as Carol Cartman, a daytime hostess like Jenny Jones, Oprah and so many others. As the Scrooge figure Spelling is selfish, mean-spirited and abuses her staff, especially her assistant Roberta, the Bob Cratchit role.

Roberta (Nina Siemaszko) is a struggling single mother caught up in a custody battle for her version of Tiny Tim in a novel departure from the usual Cratchit family pathos. 

Dinah Manoff portrays the ghost of Carol’s late aunt and manager Marla. Aunt Marla was a driven “show-biz mom” type whose monomaniacal, cold-hearted drive was passed on to Carol as she forced the girl into a show business career she never really wanted. Because of this Marla is cursed in a Jacob Marley manner and has come to warn her niece that she faces the same fate unless she changes her ways. Continue reading




CharlemagneAs regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know, December is not just the month in which I cover umpteen versions of A Christmas Carol but also the month in which I look at versions of the tales of Charlemagne and his Paladins. These are the legends about Charlemagne, not the actual history, so there will be dragons, monsters and magic. Roland shows up in this story. 


paladins of charlemagneTHE SIEGE OF ALBRACCA – Princess Angelica of Cathay, in our previous tale, had failed to win the heart of the Paladin Reinold despite holding him at her enchanted isle for a time. Just as the escaped Reinold was even now trying to make his way back to the court of Charlemagne, Angelica returned to her father’s court in Cathay.

While she had been gone, the Tartar King Agrican (also called Agri Khan) had surrounded Abracca, capitol of the Kingdom of Cathay with his army and demanded the hand of Angelica from her father, King Galafron. The siege lasted for weeks, but in its early stages Galafron had managed to dispatch messengers to Circassia.

One lone man among those messengers survived to reach Circassia and ask its King Sacripant to come to the aid of Cathay. Sacripant, like every other male character in these stories (except Reinold) was captivated by Princess Angelica’s beauty. The king thus led his army forth, intent on defeating the Tartars and winning the hand of Angelica. Continue reading


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sheriff and alienTHE SHERIFF & THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL KID (1979) – I’m often asked about movies that are safe to watch with children around at Christmas time. Here are TWO such films, both starring gruff but likable Spaghetti Western icon Bud Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) and, of all people, Cary Guffey – the little kid from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The first film, The Sheriff & The Extraterrestrial Kid is also called The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid. Three years BEFORE Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Guffey played an alien child who gets stranded on Earth and meets modern day law enforcement figure Sheriff Hall (Spencer), who helps keep him out of the hands of sinister government officials who want to study the unearthly child.

sheriff satellite kidCary Guffey’s character is named H7-25 and possesses an alien device similar to a television remote control device. That device lets H7-25 rewind time and other miraculous acts to help Sheriff Hall against their pursuers. The kid often uses it to rewind unpleasant events for the bad guys during the many, many chase and fight scenes.

Sheriff Hall is, typically for Bud Spencer, a brute with a soft heart and muscles of steel whose action scenes are like a hybrid of a Three Stooges short and an old Popeye cartoon.
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December is the time for end of the year retrospectives, so here is a look at Balladeer’s Blog’s Best of January 2021.

Mysterious Planet posterMYSTERIOUS PLANET (1982) – My review of this forgotten science fiction bomb which vaguely parallels the Jules Verne novel Mysterious Island. This unintentionally hilarious flick is one of the worst movies ever made. Click HERE

SIXTEEN FAILED PREDICTIONS FROM 1975 – Four provinces seceding from Canada to join the United States? Indonesia trying to conquer Australia? A military junta in France? All this and more with a look at predictions which were WAY off. Click HERE.

godfather re editTHE GODFATHER CODA (2020 Edit) – My review of Francis Ford Coppola’s December 2020 re-edit of Godfather III. I look at the reshuffling of scenes, the omission of some and different takes for others. Click HERE.

DYSTOPIA NATION: TECHNO TYRANTS – A fanciful tale of Big Tech tyranny which has in many ways come true. Click HERE.

rivals sherlockRIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES – Episodes of the 1970s series. Duckworth Drew HERE, Charles Dallas HERE, J.T. Laxworthy HERE, and Professor Van Dusen HERE.

ANNE SPIELBERG – Steven’s sister was involved with some very bad science fiction flops in 1980 and 1981. My reviews of them are HERE.

BEST OF BIDEN GOOFS AND GAFFES – The hilarious mock commercial for a collection of Joe Biden’s blithering idiocy. Click HERE. Continue reading

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matt and gregIf you are heavily into films and hearing from directors and actors offering comments on their work long ago when those movie projects first came out you may enjoy the old Matt and Greg Podcasts. The pair listen to and comment on 1990s to early 2000s radio junket interviews.

As I mentioned above if you really get into the finer points of what was going on behind the scenes of many big-name movies these podcasts have a wealth of material for you. The fact that these interviews were conducted so long ago makes them invaluable. Not only do you get intriguing aesthetic takes from the artists themselves AT THE TIME but the hindsight we listeners have here in 2021 provides us with a unique perspective.

During the 1993 interviews with the cast and director of True Romance a young Patricia Arquette mentions getting involved with the project after hearing from “this guy named Harvey Weinstein.” In the Groundhog Day interviews you can detect a bit of the tension between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray – tension which we now know caused them to go decades without speaking to each other.    Continue reading


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Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2021 rolls along here at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a very good comedic rendition of the Dickens classic.

christmas carol goes wrongA CHRISTMAS CAROL GOES WRONG (2017) – The players from Great Britain’s Mischief Theater Company strike again in their guise as the Cornley Polytechnic Amateur Dramatic Society. After the absolute disaster they made of their 2016 production of Peter Pan (see Peter Pan Goes Wrong), the Society were banned from the BBC.

Undeterred, the troupe take over a live broadcast of A Christmas Carol starring Derek Jacobi. They do this via an all-out commando raid hilariously carried out through action movie cliches like the kind of wire work Tom Cruise has done in multiple Mission Impossible films.

christmas c g wFrom there the Society mount their own production with their highly flawed but immensely likable players, highlighted by Chris (Henry Shields), Annie (Nancy Zamit), Robert (Henry Lewis) and others. Naturally, a LOT goes wrong.

The iconic Diana Rigg, like Jacobi, plays herself as the narrator and is the fictional aunt of Society player Sandra, who is portrayed by actress Charlie Russell. Continue reading


Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL, humor


JetsonsA JETSON CHRISTMAS CAROL (1985) – Christmas Carol-A- Thon 2021, my 12th annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon, continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! This 1985 animated version of the Dickens classic incorporates the characters from the Hanna Barbera program The Jetsons. They were a family who were the far-future counterparts of the Stone Age family The Flintstones. 

A Jetson Christmas Carol is not very good but it’s a lot better than the irritatingly awful Flintstones Christmas Carol. If you know the characters you can fill in the blanks yourself:

George Jetson is the substitute for the novel’s put-upon Bob Cratchit, and finds himself ordered to work very late on Christmas Eve, disappointing his wife Jane and their kids Elroy and Judy.  Continue reading





Northwestern College Red RaidersFIRST QUARTERFINAL – The NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS took the field against the MARIAN UNIVERSITY KNIGHTS. The Red Raiders led 6-3 in the 1st Quarter and 19-10 come Halftime. In the 3rd Quarter the Knights pulled to within 19-17 before Northwestern College won out in the 4th 25-20.

HELMETGrand_View_IASECOND QUARTERFINAL – In this game the GRAND VIEW UNIVERSITY VIKINGS played the CONCORDIA (MI) CARDINALS. A 7-3 Cardinals edge in the opening Quarter became a 17-10 Vikings lead at the Half. The 3rd Quarter ended with Concordia University trailing by just 17-16 but it was all Grand View U in the 4th as the Knights won the game 31-16. Continue reading


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Here’s Part Thirteen of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

spider man giant 4GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #4 (April 1975)

Title: To Sow the Seeds of Death’s Day

Villain: Moses Magnum (First Appearance)

Synopsis: We pick up an unknown amount of time after the previous story. J Jonah Jameson is still in Paris, using his lawyers to fight being brought back for questioning regarding the new Mysterio, whom he hired to kill Spider-Man last time around.

Peter Parker, in his Spider-Man costume, is web-slinging around New York City one night when he hears a woman scream “EEEE!”. (Or it could be Ned Beatty, I guess.) Following the sound to its source he sees four masked men kidnapping a nightie clad woman from her apartment.

deaths dayOur hero defeats three of the four and a bullet fired from a rooftop by the Punisher kills the fourth. The Punisher flees the scene while Spider-Man takes care of the still-frightened woman. An ambulance and some cop cars show up on the scene. The police insist Spider-Man must come in to answer questions regarding the deaths of Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn, both of whom he is mistakenly suspected of killing.

Spider-Man gets away from the cops and swings off to the Punisher’s van, which he enters without the Punisher catching on. He rides along to the Punisher’s latest secret hideout and surprises his old enemy/ ally when he opens up the back door of the van. Continue reading

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mascot chair and bottle picIf it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, then regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know it’s the day when I kick off my annual Christmas Carol-A-Thon in which I review several versions of A Christmas Carol. I look at movies, television shows, radio shows and books which adapt the Dickens classic. Every year I present new reviews and a few old classics since new readers will have missed them.

To start off this year’s edition Balladeer’s Blog will look at what little is known about lost television versions of A Christmas Carol from the days of live broadcasts, when not even kinescopes were being kept. Previously, the Rufus Rose Marionettes adaptation from 1948 was the only lost version I looked at.

christmas present and scroogeA CHRISTMAS CAROL (1943) – An early experimental broadcast on December 22nd, 1943 from Dumont TV’s station W2XWV in New York, presumably to mark the 100 year anniversary of the publication of A Christmas Carol.

Very, very few people would have seen this production. George Lowther directed the Montebank Players, while William Podmore wrote the teleplay AND starred as Ebenezer Scrooge. This program aired around 9:30 PM as the second hour of a two-hour block of music, World War 2 coverage, commercials and a short film.

           Radio and Television Weekly called it “the longest and most elaborate studio play yet presented over television” and extravagantly praised the antique furniture and costumes in the production. Reviews of the time indicated that this Carol resorted to narration from the Dickens novel to cover story elements which could not be depicted by the primitive special effects of the time.

dumontCHRISTMAS, 1944 (1944) – This half hour production of the Carol aired on December 19th, 1944 at 8:45 PM as part of the Video Varieties television series. Dumont TV station WABD in New York presented the show in conjunction with WOR-TV in New Jersey. Reviews of the time indicated it was an adaptation of the story of Scrooge set in 1944.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1944) – The long-gone Dumont Network stikes again! The very next night – December 20th, 1944 at 9:30 PM came this half hour presentation. Oddly, though the existing records do not show who played Scrooge in this production, it is known that Carl Eastman played Bob Cratchit, Helen Jerome played his wife and Bobby Hookey played Tiny Tim. Continue reading