First aired December 23, 1988
"In the reign of good Queen Vic, there stood, in Dumpling Lane in old London Towne, the Moustache Shoppe of one Ebenezer Blackadder -- the kindest and loveliest man in all England." -Opening narration.
"In the feeling good ledger in life, we are rich, indeed!" - Ebenezer Blackadder
Ebenezer Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson, who plays all the members of the Blackadder family in this special) is, as the above narration says, the kindest and most charitable man in London. He is constantly donating money and offering assistance to poor citizens who visit his mustache shop. Blackadder is assisted in his shop by a man named Baldrick (Tony Robinson), who is a bit of a dim bulb, but well-intentioned.
|"Congratulations, Mr Baldrick! Something of a triumph, I think — you must be the first person ever to spell `Christmas’ without getting any of the letters right at all."|
His business has earned him 17 pounds and a penny for the year. Baldrick suggests that Blackadder would have made more money if he wasn't so gullible.
|"Yeah, I just wish we weren’t doing so well in the bit-short-of-prezzies-and-feeling-a-gullible-prat ledger."|
Shortly thereafter, a woman named Mrs. Scratchit (Pauline Melville) gets Blackadder to pay her £17 for a matchbox (£1 per match). A neighborhood boy takes the penny to go buy gin.
|"Mrs Scratchit, you have the body of a weak woman, but the mind of a criminal genius!"|
Blackadder's shrill niece, Millicent (Nicola Bryant) pops in and walks out with all the presents and the Christmas Twig. The Mr. Bumble-esque beadle (Denis Lill) from the local orphanage takes their bowl of nuts on behalf of the unusually rotund orphans in his charge.
|"Oh, I just thought I pop round, you know, just on the off chance. Well, you know, Christmas is a time traditionally connected with presents…"|
This is followed by a visit from Queen Victoria (Miriam Margolyes) and Prince Albert (Jim Broadbent), who are having a "Christmas adventure" in which they (unconvincingly) disguise themselves as common folk to "go out amongst the people to reward the virtuous and the good."
|Prince Albert and Queen Victoria discuss their plans for a "Christmas adventure"|
|Queen Victoria: "Give us ten pounds for the virtuous old lady next door."|
Blackadder heads off to bed, resigned to the fact that they'll have a "thin Christmas". But Baldrick remembers something he forgot to mention earlier:
|Oh by the way ...|
Sure enough, when he is sleeping, Blackadder is visited by the Spirit Of Christmas (Robbie Coltrane).
|"How do you do? Just doing my usual rounds, you know: a wee bit of haunting, getting misers to change their evil ways. But you’re obviously such a good chap, there’ll be no need for any of that nonsense!"|
|Ebenezer Blackadder is shocked to learn that his ancestors were bad and wants to know more|
|"And, look, there’s a surprise present for you inside. It’s a novelty death warrant, and you give it to a friend."|
The Spirit then shows Ebenezer scenes from the Regency featuring the behavior of his grandfather, Mr. Edmund Blackadder, Esquire, butler to Prince Regent George (as played by Hugh Laurie).
In this era, we witness Blackadder and Baldrick trying to steal the Prince's collection of Christmas gifts. A poor old woman shows up and asks for the gifts and George gives them to her. Blackadder chases her down and steals the presents for himself. Upon seeing this, Ebenezer says of his grandfather "his behavior, as you say…disgraceful. But, he actually got the presents!"
|Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent|
|"For God’s sake, Baldrick — if you’re going to wear that ridiculous jockstrap, at least keep your legs together!"|
He wakes up Christmas morning and punches Baldrick twice as a jumping off point for his new-found nastiness.
|Ebenezer makes Baldrick a fist for Christmas|
|"Oh, my dear Millicent come for her dinner. …And she seems to have brought the fish course with her."|
J.A. Morris says:
Blackadder's Christmas Carol was my introduction to the BBC's Blackadder series and it's a good gateway to the characters. It gives us a "reverse-Scrooge" scenario. A good, generous man is visited by a Spirit, wakes up on Christmas morning and decides "that bad guys have all the fun." I would like to think that Mr. Dickens himself would appreciate this parody. If you watch through the end of this special, you'll see that its message is not quite as cynical as it first appears.
|Instead of presents, Lord Melchett and Edmund Blackadder exchange insults for Christmas.|
If you haven't seen this series, please check it out. Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson were always hilarious as Blackadder and Baldrick, respectively. They were assisted by one of the greatest ensemble casts of all time. Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent and Robbie Coltrane are all stars in their own right and they're all great here.
|In this version of the story "Scrooge" buys the "prize turkey" for himself|
This special can be found on dvd and also streams on Netflix (as does the entire Blackadder series).
|Blackadder give the Spirit a "medicinal" beverage.|
Blackadder's Christmas Carol is one of the best parodies of this story and it's all the funnier since (like the original) it's set in the Victorian Era. Highly recommended!
J.A. Morris' rating:
4 candy canes
The Blackadder series is one of my favorite British tv shows ever and this snarky Scrooge-in-reverse takeoff on A Christmas Carol is laugh out loud hilarious. Ben Elton and Richard Curtis' acerbic script is very well rendered by very talented comedic actors. I particularly enjoy the over the top ridiculous performances of the various royal personages.
|Queenie (Miranda Richardson) and Nursie (Patsy Byrne) with paper chain Christmas decorations|
4 candy canes (or should I be giving naughty Mr. Blackadder a lump of coal?)
|Closing credit card with bonus Christmas message courtesy of Baldrick|