. . . and I don't know about you, but I'm suddenly feeling ancient! Disney is releasing a new 30th Anniversary Special Edition of this beloved special. The website Big Picture Big Sound reviews it here.
Kelly Clarkson will star in an NBC Christmas special "loosely based on Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,'" airing December 11.
A minor point: The Huffington Post tells us that "Clarkson's character will learn the true meaning of Christmas." Bah, humbug. "The true meaning of Christmas" is vapid TV-speak for "home and hugs and family and anything but the TRUE meaning of Christmas." Charles Dickens would have broken his pen in half before he'd have used such a cliché. And A Christmas Carol isn't about that, anyway, and doesn't pretend to be: It makes a point of reverently mentioning the "sacred origin" of Christmas, but the story's focus is on one man's redemption. Loosely based, indeed.
Forgive my Scrooge-likeness, but fake TV versions of "the true meaning of Christmas" are an old pet peeve for your Dickensblogger.
Cable network Bravo is developing a new series called Fortune, inspired by Bleak House but set in the present day. (Note that "developing" doesn't necessarily mean that the series is guaranteed to make it to the screen.)
Mr. Dickens recently showed up on the BBC children's show Horrible Histories. Check it out! According to Slate, he was doing a Morrissey song. I know squat about Morrissey, so I'll take their word for it.
(In fact, the train crash mentioned in the song took place while Dickens was writing Our Mutual Friend. But maybe it was easier to find a rhyme for Drood.)
In other TV news, the latest episode of AMC's Mad Men was titled "A Tale of Two Cities." Oddly enough, this took place while I was watching the LOST episode titled "A Tale of Two Cities." There's a Dickensidence for you.
BBC One has comissioned a new drama series called Dickensian, in which "characters from the author's novels cross paths in 'the most surprising of ways'." (More info here.) Seems to me we already did that -- let's hope they do as good a job as we did, eh? ;-) In all seriousness, I'm envisioning a Dickens-themed sort of Once Upon a Time, which should be pretty interesting! Longtime BBC writer Tony Jordan will be doing the writing.
In brief -- this was a fairly good adaptation, all told. The cast, with a few exceptions, was really excellent, with Bill Paterson's Stephen and Beatie Edney's Louisa being the standouts. And even though it looked like they'd been given about $1.50 to spend on the sets, somehow they made it work. (I can't say as much for the soundtrack, though, which sounded equally cheap and much less effective.) The biggest problem, by far, was the uneven pacing. I wouldn't recommend this film before reading the book -- it would be easy to get lost in the "muddle," as Stephen would say. But it makes a decent supplement to the book.
And we're into the home stretch. Nice little monologue in a mirror for Richard E. Grant. Still don't feel that his look is quite right, but I really can't fault his acting. He's done a fantastic job. Sissy's acting, however, strikes me as a little flat. And she wears her hair down for no reason, a la Billie Piper in Mansfield Park.
The sets for this movie are sparse, but effective. You see Stephen walking past a never-ending brick wall with humungous "VOTE FOR THOMAS GRADGRIND" posters every few feet, you don't need much else.
Finally Harriet Walter gets a full scene. She's not an actress I would have thought of for this role, but she makes a good thing of it, in a quiet, austere way. And she's a nice foil to Bill Paterson's passionate Stephen.
You guys, I have to get you a screencap of Mr. Gradgrind's blackboard. The stuff on it would give nightmares to a graduate student in calculus. And it's so big he has to climb a ladder to get to the top of it, no joke!
The pacing here is a bit rushed -- probably because it's only 104 minutes. If I didn't know the story, I'm not sure how well I'd be able to follow it.