Blackadder's Christmas Carol:
Review by
William Mortensen Vaughan
As of: 10:45 a.m. E.S.T., Monday, April 10, 2017


Title:  "The Black Adder":  "Blackadder's Christmas Carol"

My Rating:  ***

Adaptation: Starring Rowan Atkinson as "the Scrooge," Ebenezer Blackadder

Year Released: 1988

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

Is this adaptation reverent?: No, this adaptation is not reverent; Baldrick (Tony Robinson) prays to "the big, pink pixie in the sky" instead of to God.

Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."? No, but orphans do sing a song asking God to bless Mr. B. and "Baby Jesus." This song is, however, a mockery of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!" with the words "piggy wiggy woo" repeated ad tedium ad nauseam.

What does my wife think of it? She finds it both hilarious and disgusting, like Hugh Laurie, who plays Dr. House in perhaps her favorite dramatic, medical, television series, " House M.D."

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens? This adaptation recreates an odd version of A Christmas Carol, featuring a character named Ebenezer Blackadder, who is generous to a fault, until the Spirit of Christmas visits him one Christmas Eve, and inadvertently persuades him to become selfish and evil, by showing him how evil his ancestors were, and how evil his descendants would be, and how successful their evil ways allowed/would allow them to be, until they would eventually became the rulers of the universe.
Unfortunately, his change of heart causes him to insult Queen Victoria (Miriam Margolyes) and Prince Albert (Jim Broadbent) when they attempt to reward him for his generosity and virtue.

What dialect is used? British English.

When and where does this adaptation take place? Queen Victoria's England.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring the Spirit of Christmas, who shows Ebenezer Blackadder visions of the past and future.

Is this adaptation "framed"? No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included? An ode to "Blackadder" serves as background music to the credits at the beginning and end of this episode. There is also a rendition of "God Rest Ye, Mr. B., and Baby Jesus, Too," to the tune of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!"

How attractive is the visual art? The set and wardrobe are excellent, although oddly lacking outdoor scenes.
The most disturbing costumes are the leather thongs Rowan Atkinson and Tim Robinson wearing in the visions of the future.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another? The transitions are adequate, with effective scene cutting in the middle of smoke, seemingly caused by the Spirit of Christmas' magic.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, that it is one of, if not THE only adaptation of A Christmas Carol with an unhappy ending.

What extras are included on the DVD? This DVD is one of two, in a set, titled BBC Holiday Comedy Collection, which includes seven other television Christmas episodes:

"Are You Being Served?": "Christmas Crackers"

"Good Neighbors": "Silly But It's Fun"

"To the Manor Born": "Christmas Special"

"'Allo 'Allo!": "A Buni n the Oven"

"Last of the Summer Wine": "Whoops"

"Keeping Up Appearances": "A Very Merry Hyacinth"

"The Vicar of Dibley": "Winter"

Subtitles are available in English.

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