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Christmas Carol (1978)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy | Fantasy  -  December 1978 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 158 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

In this one-man show starring Rich Little, Ebeneezer Scrooge (played by Rich as W.C. Fields) hates Christmas, and it's up to the Ghosts of Christmas Past (played by Rich as Humphrey Bogart)... See full summary »

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Title: Christmas Carol (TV Movie 1978)

Christmas Carol (TV Movie 1978) on IMDb 7.6/10

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In this one-man show starring Rich Little, Ebeneezer Scrooge (played by Rich as W.C. Fields) hates Christmas, and it's up to the Ghosts of Christmas Past (played by Rich as Humphrey Bogart), Present (played by Rich as Columbo) and Future (played by Rich as Inspector Clouseau) to convince him otherwise Written by Marta Dawes <smdawes@home.com>

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Comedy | Fantasy

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December 1978 (USA)  »

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Rich Little's Christmas Carol  »

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Paul Lynde as Bob Cratchit: Do you know he's so cheap he even has a burglar alarm on his garbage cans?
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And is that "James Mason" in there?
13 January 2007 | by (Southeastern Massachusetts) – See all my reviews

This show has a clever, sideways premise: a comedian does impressions of various celebrities "performing" in a production of A Christmas Carol. I've seen very little of Rich Little (no, pun not intended), but this program of his sounded fun so I looked it up. I suppose that the more impressions you recognize, the more you will like the show; fortunately many of the targets are figures like John Wayne, Groucho Marx and Richard Nixon, whose personas are well-known even to folks who haven't seen much of them in films or TV.

The small-scale period sets are nicely done for a comedy special on TV, but the TV sitcom laugh track is unwelcome, especially since it pops up for everything including the lamer jokes (like the twice-used "and those were his good/bad points" bit); I eventually stopped noticing though. But the central gag makes everything worthwhile. Little certainly has a talent and versatile voice for impressions. Some I was prepared for because of what I read before watching, and I was able to guess a couple other obscure ones. The only two I had no clue about were the kid that Scrooge hires to buy the goose (long-ago comedian Jack Benny) and Tiny Tim (writer Truman Capote; I could only guess it was some sort of Elton John or Robert Evans with a Droopy the Dog voice). On-screen text at the end or beginning identifying each celebrity would've helped. Though I had no knowledge of W.C. Fields performances, Little's depiction of Fields performing as Scrooge was amusing enough to hold the main role. (Little even sneaks in a sly, cleaned-up version of Fields's vulgar joke about fish.)

Standouts include "Paul Lynde" as Bob Cratchit. I only remember Paul Lynde as the voice of Templeton the rat from "Charlotte's Web", but just based on that it is eerie how well Little evokes Lynde. "James Stewart's" appearance was good too, but note that he was not Scrooge's boss as the IMDb credit says, but rather his co-worker Dick Wilkins. And "Richard Nixon" as the ghost of Marley comes with a great visual gag: instead of chains and strongboxes, he's weighed down by footage from his White House audio tapes.

"Johnny Carson" as Fred, the nephew of Scrooge, is an entertaining parody that even includes a reference to Carson's turbaned psychic gimmick. But the impression is also a striking jab at the big-time talk show host, who was still an NBC star at the time. As Fred hosts his holiday party, he does a stand-up routine that bombs; the guests sit in silence as Fred drags out his failed jokes and slow delivery.

Some of the impressions show up too briefly, including John Wayne as a businessman talking about the dead Scrooge. Speaking of this scene, I believe the first businessman with the walking stick and cultured voice is supposed to be James Mason. Likewise I wanted to see more of him. (Oddly, "Mason" doesn't show up in the final montage.)


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