22 December 2000 | Marta
One of the best Christmas Carol adaptations, and it's funny
Rich Little plays everyone in this hour long Canadian-produced show, and he's perfect in every role. The story has been changed only in Scrooge's profession: He's the owner of the Boat and Bottle Works, where Scrooge empties the liquor bottles and Cratchit stuffs the boats in them. Rich does all his best impressions: Scrooge (W.C. Fields), Bob Cratchit (Paul Lynde), Nephew Fred (Johnny Carson), Mrs. Cratchit (Edith Bunker), Tiny Tim (Truman Capote, in one of the funniest impressions), Jacob Marley (Richard Nixon, whose "chains" are a mass of reel-to-reel tapes, representing the erased 18 1/2 minutes), the men of business who discuss Scrooge after he's dead (John Wayne (perfection itself), James Mason, and George Burns), the boy Scrooge greets from his window Christmas morning (Jack Benny, playing his violin), and of course the three ghosts - Past (Humphrey Bogart, who shows up seated at his bar table with empty bottles strewn around), Present (Columbo) and Future (Inspector Clouseau, who sets fire to the bed curtains with his candle). At the end, Scrooge reforms and pledges to go on the wagon. He's hired someone else to empty the bottles who shows real promise: Dean Martin!
This is an inventive, extremely funny show. Rich is still the best impressionist around, and his John Wayne is just adorable; no one does Wayne better. The sets are also outstanding; this is one of the best Carol adaptations I've seen for atmosphere, and it's superlative comedy enhances the story.
The show was released years ago on laserdisc but is unavailable anywhere else, as far as I know, and this is a shame because it's a classic. If you can scare it up anywhere, don't hesitate to buy it. It will become a Christmas tradition with you, as it is with our family.