Scrooge Gets an Oscar: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan
As of: 10:35 a.m. E.S.T., Monday, April 10, 2017


Title:  "The Odd Couple":  "Scrooge Gets an Oscar"

My Rating:  ***

Adaptation: Starring Jack Klugman as "the Scrooge," Oscar Madison
and Tony Randall as Felix Unger/Jacob Marley's stand-in

Date Released: Thursday, December 17, 1970

Format Reviewed: live-action, television episode, on DVD

Is this adaptation reverent?: Yes, this adaptation is somewhat reverent, although it also contains male chauvinism, as Oscar Madison (Klugman) turns to watch a young woman walk in the opposite direction, while crossing the street, during the opening credits. The marquee for a topless bar also appears in the final credits. Conversely, his room- mate, Felix Unger (Tony Randall), tries to offer an elderly lady assistance in crossing the street, and gets beaten with her purse, presumably because she's insulted by his implication that she looks old enough to need assistance.

Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."? Yes, Murray (Al Molinaro), playing the role of "Teeny, Tiny Timmy," says, "God bless us all, everyone!" repeatedly, while rubbing his face on people - very annoying!.

What does my wife think of it? She hates it because of the male chauvinism.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens? This adaptation recreates three adaptations of the general story line of the novel, with different characters, in New York City:

The first adaptation, or "the frame," involves Oscar Madison as a (fictitious) "real, live Scrooge." His room-mate, Felix Unger, and their friends, Roy (Ryan MacDonald), Vinnie (Larry Gelman), Speed (Garry Walberg), and Officer Murray, want him to play the role of Scrooge in a theatrical adaptation the police are providing for charity, to help the Midtown Orphanage. Oscar is in a bad mood because he can't afford to make his alimony payment, and he refuses to participate.

The second adaptation is the play itself. This is more alluded to than seen, although, seeing the rehearsal, and the men in their costumes on their way to the dress rehearsal, the viewer can get a good idea how it goes.

The third adaptation can also help viewers visualize the play, because it shows the men in costume and character in a nightmare Oscar has after falling asleep on his couch, watching a fourth adaptation of A Christmas Carol on television.

In this third adaptation, Felix appears to Oscar, whom he addresses as "Ebenezer Madison." He serves as a stand-in for Jacob Marley, because Jacob is so busy during the Holidays, that he doesn't have time to visit Oscar himself.

Instead of having other ghosts appear to Oscar, Felix shows him his past, present, and future. His future is a tombstone with the following inscribed on it:

"This messy grave marks the last resting place of Oscar Madison."

Oscar wakes up and decides to play the role of Scrooge, after all.

What dialect is used? New England English.

When and where does this adaptation take place? New York City, circa 1970.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? No, this adaptation is not supernatural; Oscar merely has a dream about a version of Jacob Marley who resembles his room-mate, with a Bob Cratchit who also resembles his room-mate, and has several sons, who resemble oscar's friends, with whom he plays poker. It's merely a nightmare which causes him to have a change of heart about refusing to perform as Scrooge in a police play for orphans.

Is this adaptation "framed"? Yes.

An instrumental version of "Joy to the World" is heard at the beginning of this episode; it's heard again, outside Oscar's window, causing him to threaten the unseen band, that he'll call the cops on them.

He receives a similar threat in the form of a singing telegram, to the tune of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!":

"Season's greetings, Oscar boy!
My alimony's due.
If you don't pay up right away,
I'll call the cops on you,
and you'll spend Christmas in the clink,
with other bums like you!"

Oscar, Felix, and their friends also sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" on their way to dress rehearsal.

How attractive is the visual art? The set and wardrobe are usually adequate, altough the sets are too sparse during the dream sequences. It looks as if the producers cleared a single room, painted the back wall, and put a couple props in it to create one dream sequence, then replaced the props to create another. They may have gone so far as to paint a different design on the back wall once or twice.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another? The transitions are good, with effctive scene cutting. The most amusing transition is when Felix steps out the window, after Oscar warns him that there are twelve floors below his; Felix comes to the apartment door with one of his arms in a sling, and suggests they take the elevator.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the combination of four adaptations of A Christmas Carol in one television episode. The good, non-stop jokes are excellent, too.
What extras are included on the DVD? This DVD, titled Christmas Treats, has eight other television Christmas episodes on it:

"The Beverly Hillbillies": "Christmas at the Clampetts"

"The Lucy Show": "Together for Christmas"

"Petticoat Junction": "Cannonball Christmas"

"Happy Days": "Richie Branches Out"

"Laverne and Shirley": "O Come All Ye Bums"

"Mork and Mindy": "Mork's First Christmas"

"Cheers": "The Spy Who Came In for a Cold One"

"Love, American Style": "Love and the Christmas Punch"

Subtitles are available in English.

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