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Your JHM Holiday Bonus: An up-close look at the IBC version of "A Christmas Carol"

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Your JHM Holiday Bonus: An up-close look at the IBC version of "A Christmas Carol"

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For "A Christmas Carol" fans, it's one of the guilty pleasures of watching "Scrooged." Those brief glimpses you get of that totally ridiculous version of "Scrooge" that Bill Murray & Co. were struggling to get on the air.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

According to the faux commercial that airs toward the start of this Richard Donner movie, the IBC version of "Scrooge" (which is supposed to go on the air live at 10 o'clock) will be narrated by Sir John Houseman.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

Which sounds almost believable. But then you have Buddy Hackett as Ebenezer Scrooge, ...


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

...  Jamie Farr as Jacob Marley & Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim.

By the way, according to Bill Murray's character, the reason that IBC hired Retton for this role is that -- once Tiny Tim is cured -- he's supposed to " ... throw away the crutches, vault a lamp-post and do a double somersault" before saying "God bless us, every one!"


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

In addition to Hackett, Farr and Retton, this live telecast of "Scrooge" was also supposed to feature a performance by the Solid Gold Dancers. Who are supposed to play the Scroogettes.

Mind you, Frank Cross & IBC's Standards & Practices executive began brawling over one of the Solid Gold Dancers' costume because -- as the network censor puts it -- "... you can see her nipples." To which Frank replied "But I want to see her nipples. This is a Christmas show."


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

Over the course of "Scrooged," we get to see Buddy rehearsing a scene with Sachi Parker, the actress who was supposed to play Belle in this live television broadcast. We also get to see a trio of little people dressed in Dickensian costumes. Who (using a real old television trick here) stood in the background of many shots to help sell the idea that the "Scrooge" set was bigger than it actually was.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

Comedy legend Pat McCormick also had a brief cameo in the film. As part of this bogus broadcast, you get to see Pat working with Buddy as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

You also catch a glimpse of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be that was to have appeared in IBC's "Scrooge." Here's a shot of that character (who was played by Chaz Conner, by the way) just before he steps out of an elevator and scares the hell out of Bill Murray.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

There are moments when the IBC version of "A Christmas Carol" seems like it would have been a faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens' holiday tale. Like in the photos below, where the newly reformed miser tosses a coin down to the boy in the street. So that he can then go buy the prize turkey for the Crachit family.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Entertainment

But then there are those pieces of dialogue that make you realize that IBC's "Scrooge" was going to be one of the most bizarre versions of "A Christmas Carol" to ever go out over the airways. Given that this TV special was supposed to broadcast " ... live via satellite from New York, Bethlehem, Helsinki, West Berlin and the Great Barrier Reef." With live cutways to Germany " ... where Leroy Neiman will be painting the Berlin Wall" and " ... Africa, where the Holy Father will baptize the entire Zulu nation."

As to why IBC planned to cut away to the Great Barrier Reef ... I have no idea. The "Scrooged" screenplay never expanded on that rather bizarre reference. Maybe IBC was planning on sending a film crew there because it hoped to find Nemo.

Anyway ... That's an up-close look at the bogus version of "A Christmas Carol" that was supposed to be broadcast as part of "Scrooged." Which (you'll have to admit) looks so bad it was sure to have been entertaining.


Copyright 1999 Paramount Home Video

And speaking of bad ... Come back tomorrow and we'll talk about how kindly old Ebenezer Blackadder learned how behaving badly could actually be rather rewarding.

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  • Absolutely fantastic ! What a great version this would have been.Along with the other send-ups that we see in cameo at the start, this really is a spot on satire. The site of  Houseman in his chair is just NOT THAT FAR from Patrick McNee introducing the American colour issue of Sim and saying how great it is whilst neglecting to mention that he's in it ! Wait twelve years and you have the Beebs coverage of the new Millennium in the promised cutaways to great activities from places we'll never go to. The Solid Gold Dancers are so reminiscent of 'Stop the Plot, I'm Here for an inapproriate entertainment moment' attitude of Anthony Newley in the stage version of the Bricusse musical. Hackett plays plays the ultimate over-acting radio star in a sponsored thirties soap version. O yes, this is so well done. Don't like the sign-off referring to Blackadder though. This frightens me.... attack Rowan and you might as well doubt Monty Python to us Brits. Hope you are going to do the 77 Beeb version though.

  • >>"In addition to Hackett, Farr and Retton, this live telecast of "Scrooge" was also supposed to feature a performance by the Solid Gold Dancers. Who are supposed to play the Scroogettes."<<

    (Would I be wrong in remembering a REAL pre-Disney Theatrical Alan Menken stage version where Ghost of Christmas Present was accompanied by a bevy of Presentettes?  0_0

    But, as that later showed up as last year's Kelsey Grammar TV version, I guess we'll get to that eventually...)

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