Sunday, December 22, 2013

Year Two. Day Twenty-Two: "Rich Little's Christmas Carol" (1979)

So often I find myself watching TV, particularly American TV and feeling depressed by the overwhelming stench of cynicism it evokes. Whether it's sneering at Honey Boo-Boo's family, watching dreams crushed on "The X-Factor" or feigning mock shock at the latest thing a Kardashian has been up to, so much of the entertainment we consume has a streak of nastiness running through it - jostling us in the ribs to remind us we're in on this joke, asking us to look down on people who have never done us any harm.

It is only when something like this wonderful gem from 1979 surfaces from the mire of pessimism that I am reminded of a time when television was brave enough to show sincerity, to celebrate real talent and not ask us to judge our fellow man. This Christmas special is all these things and even more; it is as close to perfection as anyone could hope for.

Rich Little is an American comedian and impressionist who is still working today at the age of 75. This adaptation puts his extraordinary talents to use by having him play all of the central roles of "A Christmas Carol" each of which is itself a spot on impression of a cavalcade of familiar voices from the 70's. We have Jonny Carson as Fred, Edith Bunker as Mrs. Cratchit and Truman Capote as Tiny Tim. In any sane world, this shouldn't work yet somehow it completely does.

Rarely have I been so enchanted by anything. Rich Little as W.C. Fields as Scrooge is a particular stand out, but each of his impressions are so lovingly crafted you will forget that it is a single man playing them all. Overall there is a sense that this is a labour of love from a single man with the kind of talent and desire to do nothing but entertain. It is so rare to find such an earnest thing in these cynical times.

From its laugh out loud comedy, catchy songs and incredible spirit of kind heartedness, this is an absolute treat from start to finish. I adored every single frame of it.

As old fashioned as wassailing on Christmas Eve.

"Rich Little's Christmas Carol." (1979)  5/5

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