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!