Christmas Carol Countdown – Ebenezer/Ebony Scrooge

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re finally here. The big one. The reason the book/movies have been made. The star of the show, Ebenezer/Ebony Scrooge. I’ll say right now that I love all three versions of the character. Ranking them will be difficult, but I’ll manage. Without further delay, Let the geeks begin! 

Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

Alright, let’s kick things off with Scrooge McDuck. I love him in Duck Tales, Kingdom Hearts, and of course, here. This is the appearance that started it all, and was the debut of his signature voice actor. As previously mentioned, this version of the story only had a little over twenty minutes to work with, as such, we didn’t get as much of a journey, which is why, even though they’re all winners, Scrooge gets the bottom slot. The journey we do get to see is still filled with adventure. He abuses Mickey, and we learn about his half cent raise in exchange for laundry services. The poor mouse isn’t even allowed to use coal to be warm at work. It doesn’t stop there, Scrooge expertly dodges charitable donation collectors, saying if the poor aren’t poor, he’d be putting them out of a job. Donald makes a cameo as his nephew, and is dismissed when he invites Scrooge to dinner. When he goes home that night, we get the sense of his fear of ghosts, though to be fair, if a dead friend were messing with me before showing himself, I’d be a more than a little spooked myself. Scrooge admires the way that Marley used to be, but is told such a path will lead to his own eternal punishment. Unlike Ebony, this Scrooge takes his friend’s warning to heart, and when Jiminy arrives, he’s willing to go along, even though he fears falling. He can’t stand to see himself hurt the love of his life in the past, and grows concerned over Tim in the present. Scrooge takes the full emotional journey, and shows growth as he does. In the end, he gathers food and toys to take to Mickey’s, but decides to have a little fun, and pretends to be his usual self, going so far as to prepare to fire him, before revealing he’s giving Mickey a raise, and making him a partner. Not a bad ending to a less than feature-length telling. 

Diva’s Christmas Carol – 

Vanessa Williams is a treasure, and a diva, in the fiercest sense of the word. It’s no surprise that we was cast as Ebony Scrooge. Her portrayal of a sinister siren is on point. Even abusing staff, Ebony looks great. She’s also classy. Rather than yelling for Bob to come to her, she calls his phone while he’s only twenty feet away. It’s not all fierceness and divatude, she won’t let the staff buy new guitar strings, hairbrushes, or even get their pay checks on time. In an effort to generate revenue, she decides to hold a X-Mas concert, and charge through the nose. Since its for “charity”, no tickets for the staff, who now has to work on X-Mas. We get to see Ebony be every server’s nightmare when she places her room service order. I still can’t help but love Vanessa though. When then D-lister Kathy Griffin takes us through her past, we see Ebony in isolation, an abusive father, being separated from her brother, and losing her relationship with Bob. She’s had a rough life. It really gives a sense of why she is how she is. You can see a bit of regret and sadness with Vanessa, and it might be the writing, but she doesn’t take her full emotional journey until the final moments of her Behind the Music viewing. Other Scrooge’s on this list appeared to be making progress before that state of the game. Admittedly, I’ve not read the book, so it’s possible that’s the defining moment of the character itself, but I doubt it for this incarnation. At any rate, by the time of her concert, Ebony has made things right with Bob, promised to look after Tim, treated the staff to a feast, and even brought her living member of Desire on stage to give get a taste of the ol’ spotlight. Flash to a year later when all the people in Ebony’s life are together for X-Mas. Rather than ending on a sappy note, we get the great closing line, “I may be a sweetheart now, but nobody pees on the diva”. Think I’m kidding? Watch it for yourselves. Worth it. Applause! Applause! Applause! 

Muppet Christmas Carol –

First things first, Michael Caine is a legend, and I adore him. Just had to get that out of the way. His portrayal of Scrooge is nothing short of brilliant. From the opening scene with Kermit and the bookkeepers, you really believe that he’s the mean miser he’s playing. Going from calm to yelling, and back again. You wouldn’t want him as a boss. I mean, threatening to fire the staff for wanting heat. Heat. In December. Pre-modern furnace and insulation. Gee, thanks, boss. His encounter with the Marley brothers leaves him shaken, but receptive to the idea of what’s about to happen. It isn’t until the creepy sex doll of X-Mas past takes him through his, well, past, that we get to see some more of Michael’s huge talent. We see him light up at happy memories, and tear up as he loses the love of his life. Even for a frosty queen like myself, I feel for the man. We all do. Everyone has lost at least one person in their lives. Driven to dance by the next spirit, we can see the light in Scrooge starting to grow. He then sees what his own nephew, and Kermit’s family, think of him. Despite getting an unofficial reading from Piggy, he shows concern for someone other than himself. You actually believe that he cares for the sick little frog. So much so that he asks about his future, leading to his final spiritual encounter. After being taken to the future, and learning of Tiny Tim’s fate, he doesn’t know how they can endure it. When the Reaper points him to a grave, Scrooge says that a life can be made right. He uncovers his own name, and cries. He states that he’s changed, and will honor Christmas all the year. Michael is so good, I believe him. He dresses, and goes to the streets, righting past wrongs from earlier, such as buying coal for his workers so they can be warm, donating to charity, and getting a feast together for Bob and his family. The gratitude feels so genuine, you can’t help smile. His performance is legen-wait-for-it-dary! Bravo, Mr. Caine! Bravo! 

I thought about posting an overall ranking, but those who’ve followed all week can see that the Muppet Christmas Carol is the clear winner in my eyes. I’ve loved it for over two decades, and will continue to do so for many to come. I hope you’ve enjoyed my countdown, and if you haven’t seen any of these great specials, I sincerely suggest that you do. 

Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing! 

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Christmas Carol Countdown – Ghost of Christmas Future 

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re days away from X-Mas, and I’m going to continue giving you your gifts. Rather than reviewing my three favorite versions of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to rate one of the main characters each day, and you already know this. Today I cover the Ghost of Christmas Future. Let the geeks begin! 

Diva’s Christmas Carol – 

Sadly, because this is a modern telling, without animation or Muppets to help distort reality, there’s no silent reaper for Ebony. No, instead we get the third spirit in the form of a tv showing a Behind the Music on Ebony. Kids, Behind the Music was a show on VH1 that used to go behind the scenes of popstars. Since VH1 produced this incarnation, they’re going to self-promote while teaching Ebony a lesson. After all, can’t have a modern story without some product placement. Ebony watches as Bob and the crew recount how horrible she was in life, and how they’re glad she’s gone. Bob can’t forgive her for having him on tour when his son died. We see Ebony’s tombstone, and Ebony gets sucked in to the tv shouting that she’ll change, and swears to honor Christmas all year. Well it’s about damn time. Granted, it took her until getting sucked into the tv to change her tune. What was I saying about distorting reality again? 

Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

After being left by the giant, Scrooge is surrounded by smoke. The looming reaper figure points him towards the cemetery. Mickey is clutching the crutch that belonged to his now-deceased son. Scrooge begins to see what his actions are leading to. Though, to be fair, Mickey Bob stays. Like any good abusive relationship, he doesn’t think he can do better. Anyhow, Scrooge sees some weasels digging another grave. They’re commenting that there’s no one there to bid him farewell, as they go take a break. Scrooge approaches the open grave, and cautiously asks who it belongs to. The reaper pulls back his hood to reveal Pete, who lights a match, which illuminates Scrooge’s name on the tombstone. He calls him the richest man in the cemetery, and pushes him into the grave. Scrooge holds on to some roots for dear life, as the coffin opens, with fire and smoke coming from it. Pete laughs as Scrooge keeps screaming that he’ll change. Now this is the kind of Disney we need more of, darker with some grit. Great job! 

Muppet Christmas Carol –

The third of the new creations is a giant, reaper-like figure. As in, bigger than full grown Michael Cain. Unlike other interpretations, this version doesn’t speak, but merely points to what Scrooge needs to observe for his lesson. Even Scrooge fears this spirit, and tells him as much. Admittedly, I’d like to know the future, but I fear it at the same time. There’s something about knowing the unknown. I can’t explain it. The reaper is so scary that even Gonzo won’t stick around. The spirit takes Scrooge to men having a conversation about someone dying, and being quite glad about it. Scrooge is directed to another group having a conversation about a dead man. Each person there is handing over the deceased’s possessions, and getting paid for them. It chills Scrooge that his fate could be the same. He asks for tenderness, lest he be haunted forever by that conversation, and is taken to Bob’s house. Scrooge observes the quietness, and upon looking in on Bob’s family, realizes something must have happened to Tiny Tim. He’s taken to the cemetery, and asks about the man who’s death brought others joy. Reaper points to a tombstone. Scrooge asks if these evens will be, or can be changed. Reaper points again. Scrooge goes to the grave, and discovers it’s his own. He asks why he was shown these things if they couldn’t be changed. He begs the spirit to speak to him, and appears in his own room. Chills. I’m sorry, if a looming figure dressed like the embodiment of death showed me my own grave, never said a word, and just left me in tears, I’d need therapy for a decade. Not that I don’t already. Great job, team Muppet. Bloody Brilliant!

Tune in tomorrow for the final character, Scrooge, as my Christmas Carol Countdown continues. Damn, I love alliteration. This one will be the best yet. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing! 

Christmas Carol Countdown – Ghost of Christmas Present

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re less than four days away from X-Mas, and I’m going to continue giving you your gifts. Rather than reviewing my three favorite versions of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to rate one of the main characters each day, and you already know this. Today I cover the Ghost of Christmas Present. Let the geeks begin! 

Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

I know, I know, how dare I put Mickey at the bottom. Well, it’s like All Stars, we’re dealing with Alaska, Katya, and Detox. There are no bad choices. Well, except for the giant. They pulled him directly out of Mickey & the Beanstalk, including his inability to pronounce pistachio. The giant set out quite a spread. Scrooge asks what it is, and is told it’s the food of generosity, which Scrooge has denied his fellow man. Scrooge counters that no one has ever shown him generosity. The giant snaps back that he’s never given them reason to. Time to go see what the world is going for X-Mas, and by world, he means Mickey. They’ve got a runtime to work with. Scrooge sees Bob’s meager feast, and Tiny Tim. He actually starts to feel a little outside himself, which is good cause there’s only one spirit left. Guess he’ll be doing the heavy lifting. 

Diva’s Christmas Carol – 

His name is Rio and he dances on the sand. Kidding, though this spirit is played by John Taylor of Duran Duran. He’s a rock and roll party boy, having a bash in Ebony’s hotel room. There’s no speech about generosity, he just tells her they need to get going. Unlike Miss Kathy, who teleported, with glittery fabulousness, Steve is a speedster, and they run from place to place in New York to show her how her crew spend the holidays in the fleabag motels she puts them up in. How her accountant is embezzling from her. How her niece is having fun, and wishing Ebony was there. Ebony even gets to hear a phone call from Bob’s wife telling him to quit and get home. Bob tries to use logic and say they can’t pay medical bills if he’s out of work. Ebony actually does question if Tim will live. Not his dept, he’s Christmas present. Doesn’t look good though. It may be a modern telling, but I’m still not feeling Ebony taking her emotional journey seriously. Maybe the next spirit will do it for her. Oh wait. 

Muppet Christmas Carol –

Second of the new creations for the spirit triad, is a large, happy, Santa-like figure, but with red hair and a holly wreath. He ho-ho-ho’s with laughter, and lives very much in the moment. Given he’s the Ghost of Christmas Present, it’s to be expected. His personality is so exuberant that Scrooge can’t seem to help himself, and begins to feel some of the joy that most people feel at that time of year. He takes Scrooge to the streets of Christmas morning, and sings a song about the feelings of Christmas. This movie came out while I was in middle school. I know this because we did the songs from this movie for our holiday program in choir. It takes me back. Scrooge is so moved by the song he wants to see friends and family. He’s tasted roasted chestnuts and he wants more. More. More! Not Santa shows Scrooge family playing games, and then Kermit and his family having dinner, introducing Scrooge to the Tiny Tim played by Kermit’s nephew, Robin. Upon learning that Tim may die, Scrooge asks about the future. Puppet Claus says that’s not his department. His hair is now white, and his time is up. He leaves with a ho-ho laugh, and twinkle of lights. This Scrooge is taking the journey best so far, in my humble opinion. 

Tune in tomorrow for The Ghost of Christmas Future, as my Christmas Carol Countdown continues. Damn, I love alliteration. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing! 

Christmas Carol Countdown – Ghost of Christmas Past 

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re less than a week away from X-Mas, and I’m still giving you your gifts early. Rather than reviewing my three favorite versions of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to rate one of the main characters each day, and you already know this. Today I cover the Ghost of Christmas Past. Let the geeks begin! 

Muppet Christmas Carol – 

Rather than drawing from their extensive list of muppets to play one of the main spirits, the workshop created a new creature to get the job done, which is the case with the other spirits as well. They made what appeared to be a little girl doll, half Scrooge’s size, complete with flowing robes, and creepy voice. She’s a testament to their effects team, but personally, she’s my least favorite of the spirits in their version of this story. I can’t get past the creep factor. She resembles modern designs of female Japanese sex robots. All T no shade. Muppet Spirit of Christmas Past, sashay away. 

Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

Oh, Mickey’s, you seem to be doomed to second place so far. I hope you manage to pull ahead. Sadly, you won’t be doing it with your casting choice for Christmas Past, Jiminy Cricket. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great as a conscience for a living puppet, and he’s proven to have journal keeping skills with Sora and the gang, but as a guide for Scrooge, I just don’t buy it. I mean, he’s better than the sex doll the Muppets used, but Scrooge at this stage in his journey isn’t going to listen to a bug, he’s gonna want to squish it. Jiminy tales him to his past, shows him the love of his life, and how he broke her heart. That’s the only real example of Scrooge’s past we get, as Disney ran it as a twenty minute cartoon, as opposed to even say, forty-five minutes, so a lot had to be cut that others left in. In any event, we do get a laugh or two at young Scrooge before the separation. At the end of it all, Scrooge just wants to go home. Stick to puppets, Jiminy. 

Diva’s Christmas Carol –

We’ve saved the best for last. See what I did there? Cause Vanessa Williams, actually, you know this already. On to the diva! Crown jewel of the movie, save for Vanessa/Ebony herself. The Ghost of Christmas past is none other than the hilarious Kathy Griffin, who I’ve seen live twice. Bitch does not disappoint when it comes to entertaining. This ghost is no different. She gets to be funny, snarky, and fashionable. She gets the best one-liners, and Miss Kathy sells each one of them. Rather than Scrooge spending his boyhood at school studying, Ebony is at school practicing her scales. Kathy quips that she must really love it. *snap! Too bad Ebony is thin on Christmases worth remembering. *double snap! The best comes when she takes Ebony back to Desire’s make or break gig in 1988. Miss Kathy comments how the harmonies are predictable, since where she comes from Billy Holiday duets with Otis Redding, she’s qualified to judge. *triple snap! As they travel to another Christmas, Ebony asks what if the spirit drops her. Kathy retorts that would suck for her, it’s a long way down, then does, just for fun. *Z-Snap! Miss Kathy for the win! 

Tune in tomorrow for The Ghost of Christmas Present as my Christmas Carol Countdown continues. Damn, I love alliteration. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing! 

Christmas Carol Countdown – Marley

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re less than a week away from X-Mas, and I’m giving you your gifts early. Rather than reviewing my three favorite versions of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to rate one of the main characters each day, and then give my overall review at the end. I’m hoping this will be a fun format for ya, so if it isn’t, you’ll just have to put up with me the rest of the week. Be glad I got a weeks worth of material done. Today I cover Marley. Have we noticed the two work people Scrooge likes are Bob/Marley? If his money had been green, I’d have a theory starting. At any rate, let the geeks begin! 
Diva’s Christmas Carol – 

Sadly, the Marley at number three is also from Diva’s. This time it’s actually Marli Jacob. Chilli from TLC plays this version of Marley. Like the others, she was in business with Ebony. However, as part of a girl group, she didn’t exactly rob widows and swindle the poor. Marli did get involved in drugs and alcohol, like you do, and ended up wrecking her car and taking two innocents with her. She tells Ebony that the chains she wears could be Ebony’s as well. Though how Ebony is supposed to relate is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I love this movie, but having a Kiki with your girl isn’t exactly spelling out, be better than I was or you’ll end up like me now. I mean, as long Ebony doesn’t kill two innocents, isn’t she already ahead? Granted, Marli does warn that there’s no facials, no makeup, and you break your nails every day. Guess you gotta play to your audience, but “don’t be a bitch or you’ll go to hell” is lost in Marli’s message. On the plus side, by the end we do get to see that Marli is free from chains, and it able to ascend to heaven. Guess that’s what happens when you were the good one who just happened to die, even though you killed two people. See? Not exactly a reason to be in chains. Oh well. Her scenes were entertaining, if not a little flimsy in premise. Let’s move on. 
Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

Goofy may seem like an odd choice for Scrooge’s friend and partner, and you’d be right. As a ghost, he’s still played for comedy, and it calls into question how he and Scrooge would’ve been friends in life. Goofy gets a pratfall on Scrooge’s cane, but once he’s in front of him, he does his job, and explains how he managed to get the chains he wears. As he reminds Scrooge how he used to swindle the poor, Scrooge said he had real class. For a moment, Goofy forgets that’s bad, and looks proud, then remembers that’s wrong. He warns Scrooge how he has to carry his chains for eternity, and if he’s not careful, Scrooge’s chains could be heavier than his. As he leaves, he takes care not to step on the cane again. Scrooge calls out for him to watch the first step, but we hear Goofy fall with his trademark yell when he does. Not exactly spooky, but it keeps me entertained. None of the Marley’s are shaping up to be imposing figures, are they? 
Muppet Christmas Carol –

 

I know it’s starting to seem like I’m favoring the Muppets, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but I honestly love all three of these, and watch them every year. This is the best Marley ever, cause we get two for the price of one. Marley & Marley played by the incredible Statler and Waldorf. I love those two in general, and their presence provides a sense of comedy to what is supposed to be Scrooge’s initial warning of his fate. He tells them not to criticize him. They were always criticizing him! People like us can’t help it. They start into a musical number about their many transgressions in life, and adding their traditional laugh before shivering in disgust at the people they used to be. Critics or not, they still care enough about their friend to try and save him from their fate. The lighting and transparency effects are a delight, especially for the 90’s where this gem comes from. It helps that unlike pure CGI or animation, Scrooge looks like he’s interacting with them, and is moved. But we’ll touch on Scrooge later this week. For now, the library is closed. Back to hell, or limbo, or my chaise in the basement. Wherever is shady queens retire after spreading our message to the world. 

Here’s their song. Enjoy the awesomeness. 

Tune in tomorrow for The Ghost of Christmas Past as my Christmas Carol Countdown continues. Damn, I love alliteration. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing! 

Christmas Carol Countdown – Bob Cratchit

By Joshie Jaxon 

Greetings, geek fans! We’re a week away from X-Mas, and I’m giving you your gift early. Rather than reviewing three versions of A Christmas Carol, I’m going to rate some of the main characters each day, and then give my overall review at the end. I’m hoping this will be a fun format for ya, so if it isn’t, you’ll just have to put up with me all week. These are my favorite adaptations of the story, and oddly, I’ve never read the original. I find these to be the most entertaining, and maintaining the spirit of our site. Let the geeks begin! 
Diva’s Christmas Carol – 

Lets get this Bob out of the way. He sucks. There’s nothing to make him the sympathetic character in this version. Yeah, he still works for Scrooge/Ebony, but he’s not nearly as abused as Mickey or Kermit. He’s just an overworked assistant to a pop diva. Boo fricken hoo, Bob. Most of our community would give our left nut to serve. Yes, we get some back story that he and Ebony were once an item, and now she’s his boss, so I guess he gave his nuts up after all. I think my issue with this incarnation of Bob is that the story has a modern setting. As we see in flashbacks, his wife and Tim have a house, food, and aren’t suffering other than he’s not there. Oh, and the whole sick kid thing, so I guess there’s that, but I just can’t sympathize with Bob, or even relate, beyond the fact the we all at one point have had a boss that doesn’t value us. Next!
Mickey’s Christmas Carol – 

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e! As the leader of his franchise, of course Mickey is going to be cast as Bob, the abused worker. Mickey is adorable and loving in his own right, but give him a family and sick kid to support, and the “aww” factor goes through the roof. His family has what appears to be a canary-sized bird for X-Mas dinner. He even takes in Scrooge’s laundry to earn an extra haypenny. When we’re given the glimpse at the future, and Tim is dead, Mickey clutching the crutch with a tear in his eye will get to even the coldest heart. Not mine, cause, yeah, but normal people. Grab the tissues. Mickey does a great job as the Everyman that we can all relate to in some form. As Scrooge goes on his rant at the end, and Mickey thinks he’s about to lose everything, we feel the relief when Scrooge reveals that he’s instead getting a raise and being made partner. Yay, Mickey! 
Muppet Christmas Carol –

The role of loyal employee could only be played by our dear Kermit the Frog in this iteration. He’s got the sympathy factor going for him, along with being someone that we tend to root for in his movies. I may be a Gonzo man, but Kermit gave us Rainbow Connection. He gets points. You sympathize with the abuse he takes from his boss, even for the times they’re in, and does it all with a happy heart. He’s grateful for what he has, and that he can provide for his family. During Scrooge’s visit to the present we see that Bob is loved by his entire family, as they run to greet him when he gets home. He may not have much, but he’s got what matters. Even with a sick son like Tiny Tim, he’s grateful for everything he has in life. Something still relevant today. No better puppet to deliver that lesson than Kermit. Mickey is great, but I have to give the edge to Kermit. It’s not easy being green. 
Tune in tomorrow for Marley during my Christmas Carol Countdown. Until next time, stay geeky, and keep gabbing!