Few would argue that "A Christmas Carol" is a story about redemption. But what happens when you try to retell Charles Dickens' timeless tale with characters that are utterly irredeemable?
Well, you'd probably end up with something like that special Beavis & Butt-Head episode that Mike Judge put together back in 1995, "Huh-Huh-Humbug."
Copyright 2006 Paramount Home Video
It's Christmas Eve at Burger World. And -- since this fast food restaurant is supposed to be open all night long -- Beavis & Butt-Head are the ones who got stuck with holiday duty. With Butt-Head out front working the register while Beavis is out back, working the grill.
Since there are no customers in the restaurant at this time, Beavis is entertaining himself by frying up a dead mouse on the grill. All the while muttering " ... Not a creature was stirring. Huh-huh-huh."
Beavis' boss now enters the kitchen area and -- of course -- freaks out when he sees the roasted rodent. He begins reaming the teenager out for being irresponsible, saying things like "Do you think that your principal would allow you to get away with something like that?"But Beavis ... He's literally tuning his boss out. Falling asleep on his feet as the teen dreams of the day when he becomes the boss at Burger World ...
... And Butt-Head & Principal McVicker are now working under him. Beavis delights in torturing McVicker, making him work over-time even though it's Christmas Eve and McVicker is begging for time off so that he can then go home & see his family.
But Beavis won't hear of it. He insists that Butt-Head & McVickers stay behind & keep the restaurant open while Beavis goes home to enjoy that Christmas classic ...
... "Ebenezer Screw." Beavis is looking forward to spending a quiet evening on the couch "unwrapping my weiner." But then his porno tape stops running. And -- after that happens -- who should come floating out of his television set but Butt-Head.
Beavis asks Butt-Head what the hell's going on. Butt-Head replies "In life, I was your partner. Now I'm just some dead guy with cool chains."
Butt-Head then explains that " ... Tonight, you will see some ghosts. And stuff." Then Beavis' pal disappears back into the television, where he hopes to soon score with some porno chicks.
The first holiday spirit to arrive is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who has taken the form of Tom Anderson. You know? That elderly neighbor that Beavis & Butt-Head have unintentionally tormented in earlier episodes?
Anyway ... Tom uses the remote control to show Beavis images of he & Butt-Head seated on their couch at age 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 ... Right up until today. Anderson then says "You've wasted your life, boy. You've never helped anyone."
To which Beavis replies "Well, I'd like to help you get the hell out of here."
After Anderson leaves, Beavis fires up his porno tape again. Only to have the Ghost of Christmas Present now appear on his television, taking the form of Beavis & Butt-Head's old Life Sciences teacher, Mr. Van Driessen. Seeing this holiday spirit on his TV causes Beavis to screech "Hey, get out of there! I want to see the chick! Damn it!"
Van Driessen tries to make Beavis aware of the impact that he's been having on other people's holiday by showing him the McVickers family. Who are sitting around the kitchen table shivering, wondering what sort of dinner Daddy will be bringing them.
Then Principal McVickers rushes in the door. He apologizes for being late. But the only way that McVickers could actually get away from Burger World was to sneak off while he was supposed to be on break.
As for the family's holiday dinner, given the meager salary that Beavis is paying him, all that McVicker could afford is a single Merry Meal. That's just one cheeseburger & a bag of fries split among eight people.
As this vision fades, Van Driessen asks Beavis if he's learned anything. To which Beavis replies "If you're a ghost, can you get me into the girls' locker room?"
Clearly the message that the spirits have been trying to get across just isn't registering with Beavis. Which is why -- when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be (Who has taken the form of Beavis & Butt-Head's vicious gym teacher, Mr. Buzzcut) arrives -- he literally takes the teen by the collar and throttles him. Threatening to " ... straighten you out even if it means sticking a Christmas tree where the sun don’t shine.”
Buzzcut then magically transports Beavis to the graveyard, then tosses the teen down in front of his own headstone. After Beavis reads what's written on that stone ...
Here Lies BeavisHe Never Scored
... The teen then turns to his gym teacher and says "Whoah! Check it out! There’s some dead dude and he has the same name as me."
Now totally disgusted with Beavis, Buzzcut screams at the teen that "You never did anything with your life. You never left the house. All you ever did was watch pornography." The gym teacher then tosses Beavis into his own open grave, saying "This is how you will end up if you don’t make some changes in your life.
Now at the bottom of that open grave, the teen says "Oh? Really? That sucks." He then thinks about what his gym teacher has just told him. Beavis mutters to himself that " ... Maybe I should … Um ... You know, maybe I was … Um … Maybe I should probably … Maybe it’s time for me to …"
But before Beavis can actually have that epiphany, Butt-Head shakes him awake. Telling his buddy that it's now midnight. Which means that it's Butt-Head's turn to go to sleep.
And as his vision of Christmas future quickly fades away, Beavis turns to his pal and says "I just had this dream. And the future? It’s going to be alright. Because I’m going to be your boss and I’m going to have a VCR and some porn."
Butt-Head's reply? "Whoah, that’s cool."
And as the camera pulls away from the now empty Burger World restaurant, Beavis turns to Butt-Head and says "Working on Christmas Eve is cool."
So there you have it. A version of "A Christmas Carol" without one iota of redemption. Oh, sure. Beavis comes within inches of having an epiphany. But that's just Mike Judge messing with your head. Which is why this probably one of the meaner-spirited (but still funny) version of this classic holiday story that you'll find on the market today.
But if you think that's tough (I.E. Creating a version of Dickens' redemptive tale without there being any actual redemption), what 'til you see tomorrow's installment of this JHM series. Where the folks who produced "Xena: Warrior Princess" tried to do a version of "A Christmas Carol" that was set in a time period that was well before the birth of Christ.
'He never scored' - something to strike terror into the heart of every man and make him change his ways far more than the nebulous terrors of hell that might await him at the end of his life :-) Played for laughs, this is quite a good version and well adapted for a cartoon style that just doesn't lend itself to such concepts normally ! Can't wait to see Xena.
I don't get it... We just read a couple about a couple of versions that were thrashed for not following Dickens, but this one is good just because of that?
Well, I never saw what the crap is so funny about this toon, so maybe that's the problem.
After this, ANYTHING will look good. As long as the Xena version has Gabrielle in it, I'm there. Also looking forward to the Spongebob version.
I've been a lurker here for about a year but I never became a member. At this point I can hold out no longer. Ya got me, Jim.
I've always loved this Beavis and Butt-head special, along with it's second part "It's a Miserable Life." This special, "A Christmas Plotz", "Mickey's Christmas Carol" and "The Muppet Christmas Carol" are my top favorite specials of this type. One nit though: this aired in 1995, not 1993. A B&B Xmas show did air in 1993, but it wasn't this one.
Finally RichardMercer...there was never a Spongebob Xmas episode based on A Christmas Carol. Though it would be pretty natural, considering characters like Mr. Krabs, Squidward and Plankton are either rich slavedrivers, have "bah humbug" attitudes or are just plain ruthless in general.
I knew there was never a Spongebob version -- that was just a joke as it seems that ever other established cartoon series has had one no matter how ridiculous. I agree it would be a natural. There's always next year!