I think the problem may be that Alastair Sim set the bar so high. His portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge ranks so that while others may make valiant attempts, more often than not, they often fail miserably. One thinks of poor Patrick Stewart, so magnificent as Jean Luc Picard, so horrendous as Scrooge in the TNT production some years back.
George C. Scott’s isn’t bad. If you really want to have some fun, check out a The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s funny, yes, but it is remarkably true to the spirit of the book. And Michael Caine does incredible work (when doesn’t he?) As Scrooge.
But we come today not to praise Scrooge, but to bury him - or at least the really bad versions of him.
Last week I watched - and all the way through, because I am, at heart, an idiot - the musical version with Kelsey Grammer.
Now, I thought that Grammer did excellent work on Frasier, one of the best comedies of all time, if not the best. But it’s been sadly apparent since that show went off the air that the man has no sense at all of what a good script is, considering the crap he has chosen to attach his name to,
How bad is the musical? Based on a 1994 stage production, it virtually removes Charles Dickens from the story. Indeed, the opening credits do not even say it is based upon his work - for which he is no doubt grateful for, wherever he is.
The poor seem kind of poor but happy - really, really happy.
Marley’s ghost seems kind of sad but also kind of lecherous towards a female ghost flying around the room. And that may be the high point of the film.
It’s almost as if the film makers were embarrassed by the subject matter, and wanted to deviate from the source material whenever they could get away with it.
The low point - at least for me - came when Scrooge sent the young boy to buy the “prize turkey” that was hanging in the butcher’s shop.
“Goose!” I yelled at the television. “Goose!”
It’s always possible that those responsible for this film didn’t know the difference between a goose and a turkey. But unhappy viewers will know a turkey when they see it.
But wait, there’s more!
Not content to mangle one version one version of the classic story, Kelsey Grammer, in search of even more demeaning material, also starred in An American Christmas Carol, the movie that was loved and promoted by so many conservative pundits last years. Not only is it probably a new low in Grammer’s career (he plays the ghost of General Patton) but it marks the how empty the imagination of David Zucker( the genius behind the Airplane films) has become.
Basically, it the story of a Michael Moore-type film maker, who is bent on banning July 4th Celebrations. He is shown past, present and future, recants, and vows to make a JFK film that is closer to reality than Oliver Stone’s. Okay, fair enough.
Hey, it could have been funny; I laugh at conservative humor, as well as liberal jokes.
But in its mad attempt to mock all things liberal, the humor is of the playground and bar room variety. It’s leaden, and when it does come anywhere remotely near its intended target, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
And did I mention that it’s more than a little racist?
I realize that those pushing this film so passionately last year were under the impression that it would offend liberals of all stripes. But honestly?
The only ones to be offended by An American Christmas Carol are those who appreciate good writing, and those who hope that Kelsey Grammer might yet bring his career out of the ditch he’s driven it into.
Quote of the Day
When I was a kid, I used to watch Twilight Zone, as everybody did. The reason I watched it - although I didn’t know enough intellectually then to know why I watching it - it was written by novelists like Richard Matheson. I always wondered, why don’t they do that more? Because, damn, novelists sure could use the work; I mean, just to get that extra thirty grand or whatever the scale is for a script and a story is a huge amount of money to most novelists. I think one of the reasons they don’t - actually what a producer told me one time is, “We can’t control you guys.” - novelist/screenwriter George Pelecanos
When Radio Died: An Open Letter to the Industry
An excellent piece by Jayson Tanner, on some of the disturbing changes in the radio business. If you think satellite radio is immune from the changes, this piece may give you something to think about.
On the Air - My Unrelenting Darkness
Thomas Atherton, author of My Unrelenting Darkness, will the guest on my show this week.
Almost 20 years ago Thomas Atherton found himself wandering the streets of a mid-western American city, his past a complete blank. What he had instead were a cache of money and two suitcases filled with a number of bizarre objects inside.
Fearful that he might be wanted by the authorities, Atherton set about to make a new life for himself, creating a new identity, eventually finding a new life in Fayetteville. Gradually, ironically using techniques he had learned in his former life as a clinical psychologist, he was able to piece together the story of his life.
In addition his the story of his life, and events leading to his dramatic departure from his previously comfortable existence, Atherton also discusses other books he has written under pen names, in genres as wide as mysteries, fantasy and spy thrillers.
Show days and times
C.A.T. is shown on Channel 18 of the Cox Channel line-up in Fayetteville.
Those outside the Fayetteville viewing area can see the program online at:
Programs online are shown in “real time,” meaning that they are shown at the same time as they are shown on C.A.T.