25 Days of Christmas (Carol): Day 5
After four tolerable versions of A Christmas Carol in a row, adaptation number 5, Rich Little’s Christmas Carol, comes and smacks me square in the face. This was a 1978 TV special for a still young Home Box Office (HBO) starring impressionist Rich Little performing all the important roles as different cultural figures. However, around 10 minutes in, I remembered why impressionists are second only to ventriloquists as the lowest form of comedy. The special uses a laugh track and boy does it show! Pun after groan-worthy pun are met with uproarious laughter from the invisible audience, making this hour of ego-stroking painful to watch. Little takes on over a dozen different characters (such as W.C. Fields, Richard Nixon, Johnny Carson, Groucho Marx, and Humphrey Bogart), yet many of the impersonations sound practically the same. For a guy known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices”, he sure doesn’t show a hell of a lot of range!
The one thing I can give this adaptation credit for is following the basic plot of the story. Scrooge is bad, sees ghosts, Scrooge is good. The rest of the time is filled with outdated jokes and puns that makes the viewer feel they’re on a trip through Hollywood Squares hell. Avoid this version at all costs!