The Muppet Christmas Carol
December 9, 2020
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the NC title sequence.)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. Does anyone else find it strange that one of the most...
(A shot of an illustration from "A Christmas Carol" is shown.)
NC (vo): ...popular renditions of a 19th century novella written by one of England's most celebrated authors...
NC: ...has talking socks in it?
(The title for The Muppet Christmas Carol is shown, followed by footage of the film.)
NC (vo): Despite being released in 1992 and underperforming at the box office, Muppet Christmas Carol has become a beloved film for many, as it was the first version of "Christmas Carol" many kids saw growing up. I guess I understand.
(Cut to a clip of Mickey's Christmas Carol)
NC (vo): I grew up with the Mickey Christmas Carol, and that'll always hold a place in my heart. But objectively, I don't know if I'd call it one of the greatest adaptations.
(Cut back to The Muppet Christmas Carol)
NC (vo): I was kind of wondering the same thing about the Muppet version: is this truly one of the great adaptations, or are people's nostalgia remembering it better than it was?
NC: Well, I find there's two camps when it comes to "Christmas Carol" adaptations: the excited younger crowds that haven't lived with it very long...
(Cut to a Cockney kid (played by Tamara), wearing a flat hat and scarf and has soot on her face.)
Cockney kid: Oy, this is the greatest thing ever made by humans is, what, what?
NC: ...and the older crowd who have seen it so many times, they're sick to death of it.
(Cut to a gruff-looking man (played by Malcolm) drinking alcohol as he sits at a table, looking quite irate and holding a toothpick in his teeth.)
Gruff man: Oh, my God, enough already! How many times do I have to hear "stake of holly through his heart"?!
Cockney kid: Oh, you just need a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas!
Gruff man: Blow me, pip!
NC: And then there's a smaller group of people like me, (holds up a copy of "A Christmas Carol"; snooty voice) the "Christmas Carol" snob.
(Cut to the Cinema Snob wearing a Santa suit under his coat.)
CS: (upset) Well, there goes my new character! Now what am I supposed to do to pass the time? (suddenly feels around under him) Who? What? (pulls something out from behind him) Let's see what– (becomes excited) Whoo-hoo! Bolero!
(More footage of The Muppet Christmas Carol is shown.)
NC (vo): I'm one of those people who loves the story so much, I've never seen what I consider a definitive version.
(Cut to a montage of clips of other versions of the story, including one with Alastair Sim as Scrooge, another with George C. Scott as Scrooge, Jim Carrey voicing Scrooge in the version from 2009, Tori Spelling as Carol (as in A Carol Christmas, which aired on Hallmark), and Patrick Stewart voicing Scrooge in the version from 1997.)
NC (vo): Some come close, but they all have problems here and there. With that said, I'm also one of those people who can always find something good in every version. Even if it's an awful rendition, just a basic telling of the story still brings a smile to my face. (Shots of Mr. Magoo and the Flintstones (with Fred Flintstone as Scrooge) in their own versions of the story are superimposed) If Mr. Magoo and the Flintstones time-traveled to do a crossover, I'd probably find something of value in it. Somewhere within all these different viewpoints, there must be a way to figure out where the Muppets fall in this lineup.
NC: So, whether you're the cheerful optimism of the season...
Cockney kid: Tiny Tim is the most delightful tadpole, he is! Pimple and blotch!
NC: ...the tired fury of tedium...
Gruff man: You know how long frogs live? Ten years! Tiny Tim's dead!
NC: ...or someone in between, this is The Muppet Christmas Carol.
(The Jim Henson Production logo is shown, which NC describes as follows...)
NC (vo): We begin with the most 1992 logo: a CG laser carving out the face of Kermit the Frog. Yeah, Muppets are badass now! Remember when Sesame Street opened with Big Bird walking through an explosion?
(As he says this, an explosion is shown, followed by Big Bird coming up toward the camera while backed by the raging flame. The following phrase appears as this happens: "Brought to You by the Letters F U".)
NC: One of the things I like about this film is, right off the bat, the set...
NC (vo): ...kinda looks like a Muppet. It's a smaller, simpler version of what you're used to and it clearly took craft to making.
NC: But it's also enjoyably cheap-looking.
NC (vo): It's clearly not a real town, it's not even a miniature, it's a...medium-ture. This is done so that people and Muppets can exist on the same floor while still looking cinematic. I actually argue this is the first Muppet film to have interesting angles.
(Cut to a clip of The Muppets Take Manhattan.)
NC (vo): Sometimes, the others have variations, but for the most part, they were shot straight-on. And I get it, they were thinking about hiding the puppeteers.
(Cut back to The Muppet Christmas Carol.)
NC (vo): But in this one, the shots weren't altered to make the puppets work; the puppets were altered to make the shots work.
NC: Part of the reason being this is the first Muppet film to use...
(A clip of the film's production is shown, displaying a green screen used for CG effects.)
NC (vo): ...CG to take out the puppeteers.
(Cut back to the movie again.)
NC (vo): Which is a good way of advancing the technology, but still keeping that low-key look.
NC: With that said, though, everyone moves in accordance with the Muppets, which has always been part of the charm.
NC (vo): Look how small Scrooge's steps have to be. No one walks like that. He has to make four feet look like a mile. In reality, he's on a plank with the puppeteers below him. It looks a little weird, but you feel the effort and dozens of hours put into every shot because of it.
NC: But, okay. I know I'm talking a lot about the technicals. How are the Muppets themselves?
NC (vo): Well, they still got those cute one-liners.
(A cart full of talking Muppet fruits is being pushed out of the scene.)
Fruits: Hey, I'm being stolen! Hey, help me! Help me!
NC: Ah, yes, back when this was the only property Disney acquired.
(The scene is played again, with an image of an evil-looking Mickey Mouse's face over the cart-toter's head.)
NC (vo; as Mickey): Ha-ha! We're gonna get SpongeBob next! (normal) Gonzo is introduced as the author/narrator, Charles Dickens.
Rizzo the Rat: (to Gonzo/Dickens) Hey, wait a second, you're not Charles Dickens.
Dickens: I am too!
NC: (as Gonzo, pointing to his nose) Look at my nose and tell me that's not my name!
NC (vo): The songs are really good, written by musical legend Paul Williams.
Muppet Townsfolk: (singing as Ebenezer Scrooge walks past) ♪ There goes Mr. Outrage! There goes Mr. Sneer! ♪
(As Scrooge walks along, he passes by a puppet theater played by, you guessed it, more Muppets!)
Muppet Puppet: ♪ He has no time... ♪
NC: Puppet is...
NC (vo): ...using puppets!
NC: I just shit myself!
NC (vo): But you might have noticed something a little different about this Muppet project compared to the others. It surprisingly takes itself seriously.
(Cut to footage of an early Muppet special called Hey Cinderella!)
NC (vo): In the past, the idea was, whenever the Muppets would tell a well-known story, their larger-than-life personalities would screw it up somehow. There'd still be heart, but you'd usually watch then to see how not to tell the story.
Fairy Godmother (Joyce Gordon): (putting a pumpkin on a table on a stage) Here comes the beautiful horse-drawn coach you've all been waiting for!
(She waves her wand over the pumpkin, but instead of a coach, the pumpkin and the table it's on turn into a trash can. The audience boos her and throws stuff at her, and she simply throws her wand in the trash.)
NC (vo): This is the first one not only to use text directly from the source, but also not have Kermit as the lead. Which I think makes sense for a more dramatic telling.
(A rolling film wheel is shown as we are shown the caption, "Audio from Kermit's Audition as Scrooge". The following dialogue is heard in voiceover, with Doug voicing Kermit.)
Kermit (vo): Every idiot who says, "Merry Christmas" should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stick of holly through his heart! Yaaaaay!
Other voice: Kermit?
Kermit (vo): I'm Cratchit, aren't I?
(Cut back to the movie again.)
NC (vo): Because of all that, this is a more kid-friendly version of the Muppets. Still a few jokes for the grown-ups, but not as heavy as the previous films.
Cockney kid: Now, wait a base in the gravy! Are you telling me that there's not genius behind "Light the lamp, not the rat"?
(Cut to a clip of the movie, showing Gonzo as Dickens and Rizzo trying to light a lamp, only for Gonzo to accidentally light Rizzo's tail on fire.)
Rizzo: (yelling) Hey, light the lamp, not the rat! LIGHT THE LAMP, NOT THE RAT!!
NC: I mean, (shrugs) it's cute, but–
Gruff man: Bullshit! My Muppets would let their anger build up and then freak out on each other!
Cockney kid: Kermit would never do that. He's kind and nice and always gentle in a tough situa–
(No, he's not, as we cut to a montage of clips of Kermit blowing his top and freaking out. First, we have a clip of Sesame Street where he goes off on Grover, who plays a salesman.)
Kermit: You don't have to come in here and try to sell me things I don't want!
Grover: I can fix this!
(Cut to a clip of the Loretta Swit episode of The Muppet Show, in which Kermit confronts Miss Piggy on her planting stories in the gossip columns about them being secretly married.)
Kermit: YOU HAVE DONE THAT TO ME TOO MANY TIMES, PIGGY! I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT, I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT!!
(Cut to a clip of another Sesame Street segment, this one showing Kermit tries to get Cookie Monster to guess what's in a box to win a cookie, but the latter keeps guessing wrong, until Kermit tells him it's an orange.)
Kermit: OF COURSE IT'S AN ORANGE!! I JUST TOLD YOU IT WAS AN ORANGE!!
(Cut to a clip of The Muppets Take Manhattan, in which Kermit and Piggy alternately scream at each other while Gregory Hines looks on in confusion. Then we cut back to the earlier clip of The Muppet Show.)
Kermit: (yelling at Piggy) PIGGY, YOU ARE FIRED!! YOU ARE FIRED, PIGGY!! YOU ARE FIRED!!
(Cut back to the Cockney kid, who stares, utterly stunned by what she had witnessed.)
Cockney kid: ...I think I've been emotionally scarred.
Gruff man: You think that's bad? Check out their old coffee commercials.
Cockney kid: All right! (takes out her cell phone and types on it)
NC: Uh, (holds up index finger) I really don't think you're ready for that yet!
(But it's too late, as the Cockney kid screams and NC becomes sad.)
NC: They're a little harsh. (nods)
Wilkins: (offscreen) He always was a cutup.
(As we cut back to the movie, the camera focuses on some rather freaky-looking Muppet horses.)
NC (vo): Also, nobody with a clean conscience can make a horse this scary. (Dramatic music plays during this scene) It's like if (an image of Bullseye, Woody's horse, is shown in the corner) Woody's horse lived in a crack house!
(A scene from Spider-Man (2002) is shown: Aunt May in the hospital, alternating with a shot of the horses.)
Aunt May: Those eyes! Those horrible yellow eyes!
(Cut back again to the movie, as Scrooge, played by Sir Michael Caine, enters his office, where Kermit, who plays Bob Cratchit, and a group of rats all work.)
NC (vo): Michael Caine plays Scrooge this time around, and give him credit, he said he had no intention of winking at the camera and wanted to play it as seriously, as if there were no puppets around him at all.
NC: I honestly believe him, but weirdly enough, I think he's kind of underplayed.
(The sound of an audience booing is heard. A machine gun fires and the bullet holes come at NC's head! But we cut away to shots of other actors to play Scrooge.)
NC (vo): Don't get me wrong, I love a subtle Scrooge. The looks Alistair Sim and George C. Scott shoots are some of the most layered expressions I've seen in cinema.
(Cut back to Caine's Scrooge.)
NC (vo): More often than not, Scrooge is usually too over the top, so I like that he scaled it back, especially with wide-eyed puppets around him. But that means when he does have to be expressive, it comes across as a little odd.
Scrooge: December is the foreclosure season. (smiles creepily) Harvest time for the money lenders.
NC: That was a face like he just let out a fart.
(The scene is played again.)
Scrooge: (smiling) Harvest time for the money lenders. (A flatulent sound effect is played.)
NC (vo): He seems to have weird inflections at weird moments.
(A later scene is shown, as the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to Cratchit's house. They look in through the window.)
Cratchit: Mr. Scrooge.
Scrooge: Bob! Bob Cratchit?
NC: He said that like he hadn't seen Cratchit in years.
Scrooge: Bob! Bob Cratchit?
NC (vo; as Scrooge): From eight hours ago! Where have you been all these minutes? (normal voice) And then there's this...
(A scene of the Ghost of Christmas Present dancing with Scrooge is shown.)
NC (vo): This is my favorite thing ever. What is this? This is so awkward. I wanna marry this. I wanna have this scene's baby. So many Dr. Evils doing the Macarena will populate the world.
(A scene of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies dancing the Macarena is shown in the lower left corner of the screen.)
NC (vo): I love you, scene! Come on, just do me! Do me, scene! What are you?
NC: (holds up hands in defense) Now, before you kill me...I don't think he's bad. He actually has some of my favorite scenes from any Christmas Carol.
(More shots of other versions of Scrooge from other versions of the story are shown.)
NC (vo): I think I've just been spoiled through so many Scrooges that I judge them a little harsher than I would other performances.
(Cut back once again to Caine's Scrooge.)
NC (vo): But objectively, I know he works well enough. He's still cold, domineering, and has to pretend people's hands are their faces. That can't be easy. So don't worry, I'll point out the good stuff.
(The scene of Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present is replayed.)
NC (vo): But as a comedian, I can't stay away from stuff like this.
(The shot of Dr. Evil doing the Macarena is shown in the corner again. Then the review proper resumes as two alms collectors, played by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant, Beaker, come into Scrooge's office.)
Dr. Honeydew: (to Scrooge) We are from the Order of Victoria Charity Foundation. We'd like to speak to you about a donation.
NC (vo; as Dr. Honeydew): I would love some eyes.
Dr. Honeydew: Some of us are endeavoring to raise a fund for the poor and the homeless.
NC: (as Dr. Honeydew) We're collecting for drug addicts. As you can see, my partner...
NC (vo; as Dr. Honeydew): ...has been on cocaine since birth.
Scrooge: This is the door. You may use it.
(Dr. Honeydew and Beaker exit, with Beaker making "meep" sounds as they go.)
NC: I can't be the only one who thinks...
(The scene replays, with Beaker raising what looks like a middle finger to Scrooge.)
NC (vo): ...Beaker flips him off there. Maybe that's why he beeps all the time; it's just all his obscenities being censored. (as Beaker, makes high-pitched cursing sounds)
(Then, as Dr. Honeydew and Beaker leave, Bean Bunny comes to Scrooge's door.)
Bean Bunny: Penny for the song, guv'nor?
(In response, Scrooge slams the door in Bean's face and then opens it again to toss a wreath at him. Bean screams and falls over in the snow.)
Cockney kid: Oh, that sad little bunny.
Gruff man: Yeah, the more shit that can happen to that puke, the better.
Cockney kid: How can you say that, you bonnie little–
NC: Actually, the puppeteers thought that, too.
(Shots of newer Muppets are shown, including Pepe the King Prawn and Clifford.)
NC (vo): Director Brian Henson said before Jim Henson died, they were trying out new characters...
(Now the montage shows Bean.)
NC (vo): ...and this one tested very strongly.
(Cut back to The Muppet Christmas Carol.)
NC (vo): It just so happened that the puppeteers hated him because he was too cute. This kind of pandering might have worked in Sesame Street, but this was The Muppets, goddammit! So, every chance they could put him in some form of misery, whether it's slamming the door in his face, throwing things at him, or letting him freeze in the cold, they worked it in. I'm not gonna lie, knowing that actually makes his scenes a lot more entertaining.
Gruff man: Now that's the stuff I like.
Cockney kid: That is jolly awful!
NC: Oh, come on. Did you see their outtake when Tiny Tim died?
(One of the outtakes is shown.)
Betina Cratchit: May I have his dinner? (laugh track)
Cockney kid: You're ruining Muppets for me!
NC: That's strange. Usually, Disney does that.
(As he says this, posters for The Muppets and Muppets Now are shown.)
NC (vo): Scrooge lets Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit have Christmas off, so him and the bookkeepers celebrate.
Cratchit: (singing while the rats close the books) ♪ The world is at her best... You know, when people love and care... ♪
(Cratchit and the rats then leave.)
NC (vo; as one of the rats): All right, boys, let's spread some disease!
Cratchit: ♪ There's something in the wind today that's good for everyone... ♪
NC (vo): As much as I enjoy this song and the overall atmosphere, with the puppets and the Christmas decorations, does anyone else feel like this is a McDonald's commercial? (An image of the Muppet Babies Happy Meal toys appears in the upper left corner of the screen.) Tell me you couldn't see Muppet happy meals at the end of this.
Cratchit: ♪ 'Til Christmas Day... ♪
(The McDonald's logo, along with the "I'm lovin' it" slogan and jingle, appears in the lower left corner of the screen as a shooting star passes by in the night sky.)
NC (vo): Scrooge makes it home and is approached this time by a pair of Marleys, portrayed appropriately by Statler and Waldorf.
Scrooge: But I don't believe it.
Jacob Marley (Statler): Why do you doubt your senses?
Scrooge: The slight disorder of the stomach can make them cheat.
NC (vo, as Scrooge): For months I've been eating at Arby's and I've been seeing these foam puppet people everywhere!
Scrooge: There's more of gravy than of grave about you.
Robert Marley (Waldorf): More of gravy than of grave?
Jacob Marley: What a terrible pun! Where do you get those jokes?
NC: (as Scrooge) Wait, I remember where that's from: Bah, Humduck! (The cover for the movie Bah, Humduck! is shown in the upper right corner of the screen.)
Jacob Marley: It's good to be heckling again!
Robert Marley: It's good to be doing anything again!
(Both Marleys laugh. NC looks uncomfortable.)
NC: The gravy joke was better.
NC (vo): They sing, of course, about how Scrooge will be haunted by three ghosts who will try to save his soul from an eternity of chains and Crypt Keeper jokes.
Robert Marley: We evicted the entire orphanage!
Jacob Marley: ...all standing in the snow bank.
Robert Marley: With their little frostbitten teddy bears!
(Both Marleys laugh. NC is uncomfortable again.)
NC: Uh...I'll let the fact that...
NC (vo): ...the other is technically named Bob Marley...
NC: ...override some of these.
Rizzo: Whoa, that's scary stuff! Hey, should we be worried about the kids in the audience?
Dickens: Nah, it's all right. This is culture.
NC: (mimicking Gonzo) Wait until we do A Tale of Two Cities! Fozzie's head will roll!
NC (vo): As foretold, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears that night.
Scrooge: Are you the spirit whose coming was foretold to me?
NC (vo; as the ghost): No, I'm Domino's. Of course I'm all that stuff you just said!
Ghost (voiced by Jessica Fox): A touch of my hand, and you shall fly.
NC: You look like one of those...
(As we cut back to the ghost, a shot of a Baby Born doll is shown in the corner.)
NC (vo): ...babies that shits charms.
(The ghost takes Scrooge off into the sky, carrying Scrooge with her. Gonzo Dickens and Rizzo are holding onto a rope from Scrooge's ankle so that they are dragged along with them.)
NC (vo, as Scrooge): There's a dildo-nosed Smurf and a hairy pewter hooked onto my balls. Are they part of the tour?
NC: Seriously, why was that written? "Spirit?" "Yes?" "Nothing."
NC (vo): She takes him to the past, where he revisits his childhood. I kinda love this kid playing young Scrooge, because he only has one line. But he says it like he's the only one who realizes he's talking to puppets.
Headmaster (Sam the Eagle): You'll become a man of business.
Young Scrooge (Edward Sanders): I'm looking forward to it, Headmaster.
(Dramatic music plays as the camera zooms in on young Scrooge.)
NC (vo; as young Scrooge): What...is...happening?
(We then cut to later in Scrooge's life.)
NC (vo): I'll just say it: I think this whole movie was made for this one joke.
(We then meet this version's Fezziwig, played by Fozzie Bear.)
Scrooge: And there he is: Old Fozziwig himself.
NC: Maybe they were on the fence at first, but as soon as they realized they could use Fozziwig...
(An image of a contract is shown, and the word "YES" appears all over it.)
NC (vo): ...they wrote "yes" all over the contract!
(We then cut to Fozziwig's Christmas party, where the music is provided by none other than the Muppets' resident band, The Electric Mayhem.)
NC (vo): This is followed by the second biggest laugh: Animal not playing the drums and forced to instead tap the triangle.
(The scene where Animal grudgingly taps the triangle plays.)
NC: That could be an ad for depression medication, it's so sad.
(A mock advertisement about a medicine called "Drumital" is shown, with the scene of Animal with the triangle, with the words "Ask your doctor about Drumital" in front. Underneath are the words, "You can trust us, we have a white background".)
Female announcer: Depression is a serious medical condition that can take so much out of you.
NC (vo): Young Scrooge meets a girl named Belle, and years later, they part ways due to his love of business over her.
Young Scrooge (Ray Coulthard): I love you, Belle.
Belle (Meredith Braun): You did once.
NC: Now, depending on the version you have, this may lead to–
Cockney kid: The most unfairly cut song in cinematic history!
Gruff man: The cheesiest fluff crap in a film filled with fluff crap!
NC: ...the divisive "When Love is Gone".
Belle: (singing) ♪ The love is gone... The love is gone... ♪
(As NC speaks below, shots of the movie poster and then the covers for the video and DVD releases are superimposed, in that order.)
NC (vo): This was cut from the theatrical version, put back in for the VHS release, and then taken out again for the DVD transfer. People either love or hate this song, and once again, I'm somewhere in the middle.
Cockney kid: Bottle and stopper! How can you be? 'Tis a wonderful and heartbreaking melody!
Gruff man: She's friggin'...
Gruff man (vo): ...smiling while she sings.
Gruff man: What kind of psycho bitch smiles while dumping someone?
Cockney kid: Really? That's never happened to you.
Gruff man: (holds up four fingers) Only four times. (beat) A year.
NC (vo): Both are right. It is a very nice song, but the orchestration and almost happy way she sings it makes it come across very corny, even for a Muppet movie. Its saving grace is when Caine joins in.
NC: Yeah, I know I ragged on him a little bit, but this is one of those moments where he really nails it.
(Scrooge, feeling saddened, looks at Belle as he joins in singing with her.)
NC (vo): He sings her words, both remembering and justifying the truth behind them, causing him to tear up when he realizes what he lost. It's actually one of my favorite moments in any Christmas Carol.
Belle (with Scrooge): ♪ And, yes, some dreams come true. And yes, some dreams fall through... ♪
NC: This is what pushes it to leaving it in for me, because without it...
(As we cut back to the movie, we see Rizzo crying as Dickens tries to comfort him.)
NC (vo): ...what's Rizzo even crying for? The less than one minute of screen time the two share together? (as Rizzo) Oh, that was a riveting 53 seconds! (normal again) I don't know, it's not a perfect moment, but there's too many good things in it to cut out.
Scrooge: (to the ghost) Why do you delight in torturing me?
NC: (as Scrooge) You know I sing like a Cockney William Shatner, (holds up two fingers) yet you gave me two bloody songs! I'm gonna have Katzenberg cut this number.
(We then cut to the commercial break. Upon return, the movie resumes with Scrooge back in his room, which immediately fills with light.)
NC (vo): Scrooge is returned back home, but he gets another visitor.
(The Ghost of Christmas Present appears outside of Scrooge's bedroom door, laughing heartily.)
NC (vo, as Scrooge): I knew I shouldn't have licked Kermit before shooting.
Ghost (voiced by Jerry Nelson): Come in, and know me better, man!
NC (vo, as Scrooge): My God, he looks like (An image of the following is shown in the lower-left corner...) Jabba the Hutt melting into (An image of Merida is shown in the lower-right corner...) that princess from Brave.
Ghost: Did I already say that?
Scrooge: You did.
NC (vo): This is the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by a Jim Broadbent impression, who has one of my favorite additions to this character: a bad memory.
Scrooge: You're a little absent-minded, spirit.
Ghost: My mind is filled with the here and now, and the now is Christmas!
NC: That's actually rather brilliant! I'm shocked more adaptations don't work that in.
NC (vo): I also like that Scrooge legitimately gets along with him. It adds something different, and it makes sense he would lower his defenses a bit as he changes through the night. It totally makes you forget the Cabbage Patch demons you convinced yourself were cute.
Ghost: (singing) ♪ It is the season of the heart... ♪
NC: He sings "It Feels Like Christmas", and yeah, I won't talk about this dance again. Well, one more. I love it when he's like, "I've gotta move." And he's like, "Oh, I almost tripped, but I didn't, it was a dance!" And we get a nice crane shot revealing this couple walking down the alleyway, realizing it was the end of the set, so they stand there awkwardly.
Scrooge: I wish to see friends. Kin. Show me family.
NC (vo): Scrooge is taken to his nephew's house...who invited the SNL Muppets? And they have some fun at his expense.
(Scrooge's nephew Fred (played by Steven Mackintosh) is playing a guessing game with his girlfriend Clara (played by Robin Weaver) and her friends Wander McMooch and Brool from Fraggle Rock.)
Clara: An unwanted creature... It's Ebenezer Scrooge!
(Everyone laughs as Scrooge stares in shock. Dramatic music plays.)
NC (vo; dramatically): It was at that moment that Ebenezer vowed to murder his nephew and his entire family.
(Everyone laughs as the ghost approaches Scrooge again.)
NC (vo; as the ghost): Oh-ho, what a jackass that Ebenezer seems like.
NC: (as ghost) Wait a minute! (points to screen) You're Ebenezer! (laughs) Did I say what a jackass Ebenezer seems like? Wait a minute! (points again) You're Ebenezer! (laughs again) Did I say...
NC (vo): They next visit Bob Cratchit's house, and we see that Miss Piggy plays his wife.
Peter Cratchit: It smells so good, mother.
Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy): (lower voice than usual) It does, doesn't it?
NC: (stunned) ...Never do that again, Piggy.
NC (vo): We also see Tiny Tim, who not only has a terrible cough, but also has to walk with a crutch and an extra wire on his hand.
Scrooge: Such a meager feast.
Ghost: But very much appreciated.
NC (vo): That awkward moment when the family is starving so much, Piggy is forced to make a Sophie's Choice and eat one of her daughters. Though, to be fair, she does know (a shot of Doc Hopper's Frog Legs from The Muppet Movie is shown in the corner) someone who can do frog legs.
Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog): God bless us, everyone! (singing) ♪ Life is full of sweet surprises. Every day's a gift... ♪
NC: Okay, I'm just gonna say what you're not supposed to say: I don't like Tiny Tim in any adaptation. (The audience is heard gasping.)
Cockney kid: (also gasps) Cockney phrase!
Gruff man: (laughs and smiles) I'm starting to like this guy more and more.
NC: But he's surprisingly a tough character to adapt.
(Cut to scenes of various Christmas Carol adaptations featuring Tiny Tim.)
NC (vo): Everyone thinks if they just throw in a kid with big eyes and an innocent smile, that'll tug at your heartstrings enough, but it's a bit more than that.
(An illustration from the original Dickens Christmas Carol is shown.)
NC (vo): In the book, he's supposed to be wise beyond his years, because he knows he may not have much time left. In your mind, you can imagine how a sick child would say these words in a convincing way.
(Cut back to Robin as Tiny Tim.)
NC (vo): It's very difficult to translate that to screen without it looking too "Jesus-y". I mean, look at this scene. It should come with a warning: "May raise blood sugar. Don't watch if diabetic."
Tiny Tim: ♪ Teach us in our dreams and please, yes, please... ♪
NC (vo): It's sappier than a maple tree with (shots of the Berenstain Bears and Ernie the Keebler elf are superimposed) the Berenstain Bears and Keebler elves living in it. The closest I've ever come to liking Tim maybe is in...
(Cut to footage of the following, in order...)
NC (vo): ...Scrooged or Mickey's Christmas Carol. And that's only because they barely said a thing. And you know, even when they did, it felt a little lame.
Calvin Cooley (Nicholas Phillips): God bless us, everyone.
Morty Fieldmouse (Dick Billingsly): Oh, my, look at all the wonderful things to eat.
(A shot of some random guy going "ugh" is shown. Then cut back to The Muppet Christmas Carol again.)
NC (vo): I always feel more bad for Cratchit and Scrooge's reactions to hearing Tiny Tim passed away than actually hearing Tiny Tim passed away. Maybe I just haven't seen enough of them, but he always seems so perfect, it feels too manipulative.
NC: (holding up a copy of "A Christmas Carol") But with the way it's written, that's hard not to do.
Cockney kid: Don't make me bang in your mash! Cheerio, what, what!
Gruff man: Hey, I like you. You wanna catch a beer and talk about more dead kids?
NC: (looks around shiftily) I think we have different ideas of pastimes.
Gruff man: You sure? I read the ending of "Bridge to Terabithia" every night before I go to sleep.
NC: I'm busy for the rest of your life.
(The Ghost of Christmas Present has now become older unexpectedly.)
NC (vo): The spirit reveals his time is at an end, resulting in death by Skittles Pox, (a shot from the "Skittles Pox" commercial is shown in the corner) and the Ghost of Christmas Future appears.
Scrooge: I fear you more than any specter I have yet met.
NC: Why do I always think one of the hens from...
(As we cut back, a shot of Bunty from Chicken Run is shown off to the side.)
NC (vo): ...Chicken Run is under that robe? They travel via Mortal Kombat portal and find the future has disregarded all that Scrooge held dear, mainly himself.
(Scrooge and the ghost spot a group of pig bankers under umbrellas, as it's raining.)
Pig banker 1: (to a bunch of other pig bankers) I'd just like to know what he's done with his money.
(The pigs all laugh.)
Pig banker 2: Wouldn't we all!
NC (vo): I like the choice of animals here, making the bankers pigs and the scrounging vermin literally vermin. I also think Caine plays naive very well here, not knowing yet why the Cratchit home feels so empty.
Scrooge: It's so quiet. Why is it so quiet, spirit?
NC (vo, as Scrooge): Did a screening of Happy Time Murders just let out? (normal) Joking aside, the tone and performances are pretty perfect here. There's a real brutality here to Kermit's words, seeing as how this was the first Muppet film after Jim Henson's passing.
Cratchit: Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. I am sure we shall never forget Tiny Tim...or this first parting that there was among us. (The family looks down, tearing up.)
NC (vo): Guess I made it impossible to get a laugh out of that, so let's go to the next scene.
(Scrooge and the spirit have now returned to the graveyard.)
Scrooge: Are these the shadows of things that will be, or are they the shadows of things that may be only?
(He is shown one tombstone in particular and he brushes the snow off of it, revealing his name engraved on it.)
NC (vo): Scrooge is, of course, shown his own grave, and he vows to change his ways and be a decent man.
Scrooge: (crying) I will honor Christmas and try to keep it all the year! Tell me that I may sponge out the writing on this stone!
(He grabs at the ghost's robe and cries into it. He then falls forward...and lands on his own bedsheets, which he is crying into, revealing that he is now back in his own bedroom.)
NC: Okay. So for years I always saw this as very...anticlimactic.
(A clip of Scrooged is shown, of Frank Cross falling into his grave.)
NC (vo): I don't need him screaming, falling into the grave like other versions...
(Cut back to The Muppet Christmas Carol.)
NC (vo): ...but my heart's not even racing at this moment, and for a long time, I couldn't figure out why. At first, I thought it was Caine's performance, but the more I watch it, he does fine. When it cuts to him returning to his room, though, I feel unsatisfyingly empty, and the climax of the movie should not leave you that way. So what was missing?
NC: This time around, I finally put it together. It's the music.
NC (vo): The music for the majority of the movie is fine, but for whatever reason, it is very soft and underplayed here. I do not understand that.
NC: To see if I would make a stronger connection with grander music, I decided to switch him out, and...well, you be the judge.
(The scene replays, but with different music inserted into the background.)
Scrooge: (crying) I will honor Christmas and try to keep it all the year! Tell me that I may sponge out the writing on this stone!
NC: Now that felt like a climax.
(An image of Steve Carell with the words "WHAT SHE SAID" comes in from the left, but NC pushes it away.)
NC (vo): The following scene, Scrooge finds himself back at home and in the present.
Scrooge: All heaven, in Christmas time be praised for this day. I say it on my knees, Jacob and Robert. On my knees.
NC (vo, as the Marleys): Oh, it's that kind of movie! (laughs; then normal) Okay, I can't be too mean, as I actually really enjoy enjoy him singing the song "Thankful Heart". It's a good number, and despite like I said before Caine not exactly being the best singer, his demeanor is so pleasant, it's hard not to enjoy it.
Scrooge: ♪ You simply count his friends... ♪
NC: Me so happy.
Scrooge: ♪ And a promise to share the wealth... ♪
NC: It's a good try.
Scrooge: ♪ Who knows when it ends? ♪
NC: I think Albert Finney did worse! ...I think.
NC (vo): But like I said, it's so joyful, and even his interactions with Kermit and Piggy are pretty frigging adorable.
Emily Cratchit: You can leave this house at once!
Scrooge: And therefore, I'm about to raise your salary.
Emily Cratchit: (threateningly) Ooh, and I am about to raise you right off the pavement and– Pardon?
NC: (as Scrooge) No, I said divorce that bitch and I'll raise your salary.
NC (vo): They sing a reprise...or first rendition, maybe...of "When Love is Gone" called "When Love is Found", and they of course have a Merry Christmas.
Dickens: Tiny Tim, who did not die...
Rizzo: Aw, isn't that swell?
NC (vo, as Gonzo): He was run over by a carriage the following year! Poor kid never played Frogger.
(The film ends as NC starts wrapping up.)
Background singers: ♪ It's in the singing of a street corner choir... ♪
Gruff man: So, with all the problems you pointed out and the millions of other versions, was this as underwhelming as you expect?
NC: I don't know. I think it still works pretty well.
Gruff man: What?!
Cockney kid: Oh, jolly apples and pears! Jolly!
NC: (softly) Do shut up.
(Footage of the film replays as NC gives his final thoughts.)
NC (vo): I don't think it's one of the greats, but it does have some great elements in it. I'll admit, I would've liked a version similar to the old Muppet days where everything goes wrong and it's geared a bit more towards adults. But I'm also happy that so many kids have an intro to this that includes so many lines from the original. They could have gotten by fine not using the text from the book, but they went that extra mile, and at a time when a lot of kid-friendly versions didn't do so. The problems I have are not major ones, certainly not anything I would describe as awful, they're just a touch off sometimes. The moments that work not only work, though, but they add a lot of little touches that go a long way. My favorite moments are, surprisingly, the extra stuff they throw in: The ghost's memory loss, Scrooge singing with Belle, the character casting, and the catchy songs. For someone who loves this story, that's more than enough to say this is a flawed but still worthy adaptation for people to see.
Gruff man: Come on! It's awful and you know it!
NC: Okay, this is going beyond being sick of Christmas Carol. You have a legit hatred of this movie!
Gruff man: Well, yeah! I was supposed to play Scrooge!
(NC reacts in confusion.)
Cockney kid: I say, what, what?
NC: Yeah, what are you talking about?
Gruff man: It made sense to cast me as Scrooge. Because of my past being so violent and all. (smiles creepily)
NC: (eyes look around shiftily) Violent?
Gruff man: (taking a mug of something-or-other) But they preferred a human actor. Not someone who wanted to spread the word about a certain beverage. (starts to take a sip from the mug)
Cockney kid: What the jolly-jolly are you talking about, you bloody wanker tanker?
(Without saying a word, the gruff man takes his cell phone and taps it. The Cockney kid explodes! NC recoils in shock as the gruff man smiles evilly.)
NC: ...What are you drinking in that mug?
(Smiling evilly, the gruff man explodes and is revealed to be...Wilkins!)
Wilkins: Salute Wilkins Coffee!
NC: Of course! (points accusingly) You were gonna be the star so you could spread the evils of Wilkins Coffee!
Wilkins: You know, a house isn't a home without Wilkins Coffee.
NC: Well, you're not gonna get away with it this time! I know what's gonna happen because I have my own Ghost of Christmas Future!
(Said ghost appears in the room, holding a scythe. NC smiles confidently.)
Wilkins: I hate to tell you, but... (The ghost explodes, revealing...Wilkins inside the cloak!) ...you don't have a future!
NC: (terrified) Wilkins is still evil! RUN!!!
(But it's too late, as a can of Wilkins Coffee falls on NC. Wilkins screams and jumps at the camera and the episode abruptly ends!)
Channel Awesome Tagline – Emily Cratchit (Miss Piggy): It does, doesn't it?
(The credits roll.)