About Christmas TV History

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: George Burns Comedy Week (1985)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #23 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition will be released soon). 


Pardon my thumb! This is a 1985 TV Guide magazine ad of the program.

Continuing with my discussion of parodies of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, today let's look at the 1985 episode of the comedy anthology series George Burns Comedy Week. The series was hosted by comedian/actor George Burns. The half-hour episode "Christmas Carol II: The Sequel" is an unforgettable parody of Dickens’ literary classic. 


Scrooge in this story is played by character actor James Whitmore.

The story takes place one year after Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Now Scrooge is a warm, kind-hearted man who is excessively generous with everyone. On Christmas Eve, he is surprised to once again receive visits from the three ghosts. The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge how last Christmas day he purchased the largest goose from the butcher for the Cratchits and tipped the boy on the street generously. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge how Bob Cratchit is taking advantage of his goodwill by frequently skipping out on work. And, the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come shows Scrooge how he won’t be buried properly when he dies because he gave all his money away. His friends and family have become too dependent on his generous hand-outs to pay for a suitable headstone, while a grown, business-savvy Tiny Timothy has taken over Scrooge’s business. When Scrooge awakens from his nightmare, he yells down to the boy on the street to purchase a modest goose at the butcher’s shop on his behalf at a fair price.

This comedy sketch draws its humor from our familiarity with the original story. Here, Scrooge has gone from miserly to overly generous and now the ghosts must remind him to aim more for the middle ground and act in moderation. I like this parody because it considers Scrooge's life one year beyond Dickens' original tale and the comedic consequences of being frightened into changing his extreme behavior.

The cast includes James Whitmore as Ebenezer Scrooge, Roddy McDowall as Bob Cratchit, Samantha Eggar as Mrs. Cratchit, Ed Begley Jr. as adult Tiny Timothy, Jerry Supiran as young Tiny Tim, Paul Benedict as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, James Widdoes as the nephew Fred, Conrad Janis as the baker, and George Burns as the narrator.




More parodies are coming as we continue the Christmas in July marathon. Thanks for joining me on this month-long journey so far.


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

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