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Scrooge U: Part XXII -- Beware of the Bedrock Bug

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Scrooge U: Part XXII -- Beware of the Bedrock Bug

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There's nothing wrong with "A Flintstones Christmas Carol" that a sharp pair of scissors couldn't take care of.

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment 

To explain: In its heart of hearts, this William Hanna, Joseph Barbera & Buzz Potamkin production really wants to be a faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale. Otherwise, why would the film-makers have gone to all the trouble of hiring John Rhys-Davies to serve as the voice of Charles Brickens, the narrator of this holiday special?

Over the course of this 70-minute long program, Rhys-Davies often reads word-for-word extracts from Dickens' original text. Which clearly shows that the producers of this animated holiday special were at least trying to make some sort of attempt to honor this show's source material.

But that still doesn't excuse all of the vomit jokes.

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

"What vomit jokes?," you ask. Well, that's practically the entire backstory of "A Flintstones Christmas Carol." You see, the Bedrock Community Players are staging their annual production of "A Christmas Carol." And Fred (Voiced by Henry Corden) is lucky enough to land the lead in this show. Who -- in this Stone Age version of Dickens' classic tale -- is named Ebonezer Scrooge.

And Wilma (voiced by Jean Vander Pyl) ... She was originally just supposed to be the stage manager of this holiday pageant. Unfortunately, thanks to that horrible flu that's making the rounds in town (I.E. The Bedrock Bug), she now has to pull double-duty. Serving as both "A Christmas Carol" 's stage manager as well as the show's wardrobe mistress.

And if things weren't already difficult enough for poor Mrs. Flintstone, Wilma also has to deal with Fred's ego. Which -- because he won the starring role in this community theater production -- has become so over-sized that Flintstone's now doing things like forgetting to pick up their daughter, Pebbles at cave care.

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

As for the show itself ... That seems to get underway okay. Fred plays Scrooge to Barney Rubble (voiced by Frank Welker)'s Bob Cragit. And -- with the exception of most of the names in this story being changed to some sort of rock-related pun -- the Bedrock Community Players' version of "A Christmas Carol" (at least initially) follows the path of virtually every good adaptation of Dickens' classic holiday tale.

By that I mean ... We get to see Ebonezer reject his nephew's holiday dinner invitation. Scrooge also sends away the two gentlemen who are looking for a charitable contribution. And the greedy old miser reacts with fright when he sees his doorknocker transform into the face of his old partner, Jacob Marbley (Voiced by John Stephenson).

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

While the audience in the theater seems to be enjoying Flintstone's performance, Fred finds that he doesn't have that all many fans backstage. Wilma's still furious with him for forgetting Pebbles at cave care earlier that afternoon. Now add to this the stress that comes when many of the other actors that are scheduled to appear in this show begin succumbing to the Bedrock Bug.

Since the cast is now dropping like flies, Wilma is forced to go on and fill in for a few roles ..

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

She first plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. Then -- when the actress who plays Belle is too sick to go on -- Mrs. Flintstone also fills the role of Scrooge's fiancee.

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

And -- again -- I want to stress here that, as long as "A Flintstones Christmas Carol" is focused on the show that's being presented inside of the Bedrock Community Theatre, this animated holiday special is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Dickens' classic holiday tale. In that we get to see the Ghost of Christmas Present take Scrooge to see what his nephew is up to on Christmas Day. And we also get to hear Mrs. Cragit (Voiced by B.J. Ward) voice her objections to her husband's suggestion that the family drink a toast to "... the founder of the feast."

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment 

This animated version of "A Christmas Carol" also manages to fold in some of the scariest aspects of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be section of the story. In that we get to see the undertaker, the charwoman and the laundress attempting to sell Scrooge's belongings at Old Joe's Rag & Bone Shop. As well as Ebonezer refusing to pull back the sheet & take a look at the body that's lying in state on his own bed.

But -- in the end -- the film-makers just can't keep this version of "A Christmas Carol" faithful to the original text and still accommodate all of the backstage Bedrock Bug nonsense. So -- in the end -- the original version of Dickens' classic holiday tale is totally tossed out the window. By that I mean: Ebonezer winds up reconciling with Belle. Scrooge takes Cragit on as a full partner in the business. Ebonezer even goes so far as to give Bob top billing in their new firm.

Which is why -- at this point in the program -- Charles Brickens cries "They're just making this up as they go along." And after tossing the script over his shoulder, the narrator now exits the show in disgust.

And -- as the curtain comes down -- a newly humble Fred Flintstone now reconciles with his family. If only for a moment before he too has to rush off-stage and vomit loudly. Given that Fred has just now come down with the Bedrock Bug.

Copyright 1999 Turner Home Entertainment

There are several other sub-plots in this show that I haven't touched on in today's article. Like how Flintstone has put off all of his holiday shopping to the very last minute. Which necessitates Fred actually breaking into Blooming Shales during one of "A Christmas Carol" 's two intermissions. I didn't mention that stuff because ... Well, it takes away from what's actually good about "A Flintstone Christmas Carol." Which is the footage that focuses on the Bedrock Community Players' production of Dickens' classic holiday tale.

That stuff is surprisingly good. As for the rest of this not-so-special holiday special ... Well, as I mentioned at the very start of this article, there's nothing wrong with "A Flintstones Christmas Carol" that a sharp pair of scissors couldn't take care of. If you clipped out all of those vomit-related jokes, you'd actually have a halfway decent animated version of Dickens' classic holiday tale.

TOMORROW ... We go from Ebonezer Scrooge to just a pair of plain old boneheads. That's right. Beavis & Butt-head's version of "A Christmas Carol." (Huh-huh huh-huh. That's cool.)

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  • The throwing-up gags are in bad taste for me. I have this version, I just never watch it.I'd rather watch The All-Dogs Christmas Carol and believe me, thats saying something !

  • Beavis and Butthead!?

    Oh Ghost of Christmas Present, what HAVE we done to deserve this? Why do you delight in torturing us so?

  • Hanna-Barbera churned out crap. Period.

  • Props to you for pointing out that the actual adaptation scenes are quite good. As I said in another post...they altered Dickens' original words just enough so younger viewers would get their meaning, but not enough to dumb them down. Much like the very first Christmas Carol adaptation I read, one of those Kids' Illustrated Classics editions that they gave away as a promotion for McDonald's.

    They even took a page from Alastair Sim's book by having Scrooge mention the effect his sister's death had on him: "When she died, I swore I'd never love another human being."

    If they'd only pulled a "Magoo" and just kept the frame story to the beginning and end, it would have been much better. As it is, if this is on DVD they should have an option where you can watch the adaptation scenes only.

  • You forgot the most obvious flaw in this production. The Flintstones live in BC times...why the hell would they have Christmas?

  • "You forgot the most obvious flaw in this production. The Flintstones live in BC times...why the hell would they have Christmas?"

    Actually Christmas was celebrated before Christ was born. It wasn't about Christ then though...

  • Hanna Barbera had a great thing going for them in their first couple years in business.  Go watch the first season of the Flinstones, and check out the Huckleberry Hound show.  There's a great write up on these things at John Krisfaluci's blog: http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/

    Eventually the studio lost its way, taking away more and more control from the talented people they had working for them, and became synonymous with the crappy "churned out" shows that we have seen since.  

  • This is actually one of my favourite animated adaptations...once you ignore the dumb subplot.

    It's like a half-empty glass of beer: the cynics will mainly complain about the Bedrock Bug stuff, while more optimistic people will point out the surprisingly faithful and moving adaptation. Seriously, Jacob Marbley gave me the creeps, and scenes like the Sister Fan one were emotionally moving. But that...damn...subplot...*grabs aforementioned pair of scissors*

  • gigglesock is a jerk, and he always will be. Period.

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