Monday, December 17, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988) ***

NR, 43 min.
Director: Richard Boden
Writers: Richard Curtis, Ben Elton
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Robbie Coltrane, Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent

As every BBC fan prepares for the 2012 “Doctor Who” Christmas Special, and considering the network’s history of Christmas Specials, like the “Downton Abbey” Christmas Special, and the “Sherlock” Christmas Special, and the “Luther” Christmas Special. OK, I might’ve made two of those up. Needless to say, the BBC has a long tradition of Christmas Specials for their popular programming. I decided to go back in time and check an older one out.

In 1988, the network debuted the “Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” which took the popular Blackadder character, played by funnyman Rowan Atkinson, and placed him into a tale similar to the Charles Dickens holiday classic. Future Oscar nominee Richard Curtis and his co-writer Ben Elton put a twist on the Dickens tale and on the Blackadder series by making Ebenezer Blackadder generous to a fault, rather than being another miserly Scrooge. Instead of looking back on the sins of his past and present, Blackadder sees what past and future Blackadders’ lives are like as selfish jerks. He sees that things work out well for the selfish and decides to change his generous ways for a better life.

The irreverence of Atkinson is a refreshing change for the holiday spirit, which too often tends toward either the somber or the schmaltzy. The cast is like a who’s who in British actors of today. Hugh Laurie seems definitively un-House like as an aristocratic baffoon. Jim Broadbent plays much broader that I’m used to in a particularly biting parody of Prince Albert. And, Robbie Coltrane seems positively Hagrid as the Spirit of Christmas. His entrance here is remarkably similar to his entrance into Harry’s life from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. 

No comments: