Saturday, December 14, 2013

Year Two. Day Fourteen: "Fame: Ebenezer Morloch" (1985)

"Fame" was a TV spin-off series from the movie of the same name that enjoyed a healthy run of six years between 1982 and 1987. I have vague memories of watching this series as a child of the 80's and the 1985 Christmas special may very well have been the first ever adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" I ever saw - not that I would have known it at the time.

The series followed the lives of a group of dance and theatre kids at an academy of performing arts in New York. It was notable for featuring a diverse cast of characters of different races and backgrounds (although oddly, every one of the boys at this theatre school appears to be straight...)

This adaptation of the book has one of the teachers in the school - Quentin Morloch in the Scrooge role. He is found far from the spirit of Christmas and is miserly cutting back costs to the school and depriving people of their Christmas bonuses.

In the grand tradition of US teen drama, the original text upon which this story is based just happens to be the one the students are studying in their English class, thus begins Morloch's time travelling journey to salvation, with a particular emphasis upon heart break and lost loves helping to explain how the teacher came to be so mean.

Scattered amongst the story are a handful of song and dance numbers, which may try the patience of those not especially fond of choreographed routines from the '80s - but I am not one of these tedious people and I loved every high kicking frame of them.

Ken Swofford as Morloch is an enjoyably grumpy Scrooge and his performance is full of campy charm and pantomime villainy. By the time the all singing, all dancing epiphany arrives, it's a real treat to see him swept up in the spirit of joy and giving.

Unusual for TV series which features a "Christmas Carol" episode in which they take one of the regular characters, change them for the better then have them back to their old ways come New Year, "Fame" was unique as this marked Swofford's last ever episode as Quentin Morloch, after which he presumably was so swept up by the magic of Christmas he redeemed his ways for good and skipped off into the sunset to spread festivities wherever he went.

As toe-tapping as "I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday."

"Fame: Ebenezer Morloch." (1985)  4/5

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