Tag: Merry Christmas


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

‘Tis the season for Christmas specials, the time honoured tradition of rerunning classic cartoons and movies for the amusement of the viewing audience. And what is more pleasurable than watching an older adaptation around a toasty warm television?

Many of the beloved specials are, indeed, adaptations, works from other sources adapted for television or film. From the networks’ view, these specials are an easy way to get an audience that is otherwise busy. The older cartoons still draw an audience as parents introduce them to the next generation. Some specials have been around for over fifty years; the main limitation being the advent of colour. Black and white gets relegated to specialty channels and PBS for the most part today. Still, there are a number of adaptations that come out this time every year:

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas – based on the comic strip.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas – based on the children’s book by Dr. Seuss.
  • Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer – based on the song by written by Johnny Marks, performed by, among others, Gene Autry and by Burl Ives in the special.
  • Frosty the Snowman – based on the song written by Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson, first performed by Gene Autry.
  • Little Drummer Boy – after the song written by Katherine Kennicott Davis, also known as “The Carol of the Drum“, performed by, among others, the Trapp Family Singers, Johnny Cash, and Bing Cosby and David Bowie.
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – based on the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.
  • Die Hard – based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorpe.
  • A Christmas Story – based on the novel In God We Trust; All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepard.

And that’s just scratching the surface. However, the all those adaptations pales next to the one novella, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which may be the most adapted Christmas story in history, possibly even more so than the Nativity itself. A Christmas Carol is the atonement of a rich miser who is shown the error of his ways and given a chance to redeem himself. acting as a moral compass for the time it was written in.

There have been theatrical releases of A Christmas Carol, with the best known being the 1951 version, Scrooge starring Alastair Sims*, but also includes The Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged. While the story has a limited time for being in theatres, at most late November until early January, it can draw an audience and get repeated on television and on Internet streaming sites every Christmas season afterwards.

Film hasn’t been the only way A Christmas Carol has been adapted. Besides TV movies, television series have taken the story for their own use. Typically, the Christmas episode adapting the story has the ghosts visit either the miserliest character in the main cast or introduce a new character for just the episode and have the cast take on the roles of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Sometimes, the story of A Christmas Carol gets played with. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol had the Ghosts show a kind man what would happen to him if he continues his gentle ways, including having the world destroyed. Most shows play the story straight. Sitcoms dipped into the story most often, but even The Six Million Dollar Man used A Christmas Carol for the episode, “A Bionic Christmas Carol”, played mostly straight. The animated series The Real Ghostbusters had the main characters accidentally bust the Ghosts, as would be expected.  Scrooge U gets into the nitty-gritty of the various adaptations.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays, whether you watch an adaptation or spend your time doing something else.

* In the US, the film was released as A Christmas Carol.

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