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 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!