In 2006, Sesame Street produced yet another Christmas special, one that went straight to DVD. A Sesame Street Christmas Carol promised to tell the story of A Christmas Carol with Oscar the Grouch filling in for Ebenezer Scrooge. It's not a highly original concept, but it made sense and it was a surprise that it hadn't been done before. Oh wait... it had been done before. But A Special Sesame Street Christmas only loosely referenced the Dickens classic. And it was terrible. This was their chance to set things right!
The promise of ghosts and trips to various stages of Oscar's life? Sign me up!
The opening has that warm, familiar feeling. Actually, it's a little too familiar. In fact, it's just the opening to Elmo's World: Happy Holidays in black-and-white. That's strange...but I'll let it slide. After all, this is about Oscar. I guess we are supposed to infer that this story is happening on the same night as that previous special.
As Oscar prepares to sleep and makes sure his "Do Not Disturb Until After Christmas" sign is in place, a nervous mailman named Joe Marley arrives to deliver the first of Oscar's three letters. Okay, so that's how they're setting up the story. Shouldn't be too bad.
He's less frightening than the original Marley. And more alive.
Oscar opens his first package, a rusty old can of beans and unleashes the first ghost, Rhubarb the Grouch. Despite being a cartoonish CGI effect, Rhubarb is a fun character, having apparently been a famous British grouch who lived in the queen's trash can in 1843.
Wait, shouldn't he be the Marley character? Ah, nevermind.
Rhubarb states that he's going to show Oscar some old home movies of Christmases past, but promises the grouch that he doesn't have to enjoy it and can even make fun of them if he wants to. Now I'm getting excited. What is the first movie? Why it's...Bert and Ernie's Gift of the Magi story from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street...again! I just relived this story a couple days ago! What's going on?! This doesn't even have anything to do with Oscar the Grouch. Oh well, Rhubarb gave Oscar permission to make fun of the film. Maybe it'll be like Mystery Science Theater 3000 meets Sesame Street. This could still be interesting.
But as minutes pass without commentary from Oscar, it becomes abundantly clear. THIS IS A CLIP SHOW. And the clips aren't even about Oscar! The next "home movie" is from Elmo Saves Christmas where Big Bird sings "All I Want for Christmas is You" to Snuffy over the phone. And since I didn't discuss it last time, I can at least show it here.
I do like how Big Bird has to describe his obligatory dance routine via phone. That's a funny moment.
Wait a second...why is Oscar seeing this? Wasn't this an alternate reality created by Elmo's wish? What kind of trans-dimensional trickery is going on here? Before he can answer our existential questions, Rhubarb leaves and Marley delivers the next ghost in the form of a Kristin Chenoweth Christmas tree known as "Christmas Carole."
The Ghost of Christmas Present, folks.
Okay, so remember how earlier, I mentioned that this night is probably coinciding with the same night that Happy Holidays occurred? Well, what clips do you think Christmas Carole will show Oscar? That's right, Elmo meeting Santa Claus asking for a gift for Dorothy (even though this was implied to happen solely in Elmo's imagination). And then she shows Elmo singing about how every day can't be Christmas from...Elmo Saves Christmas, which just caused five new plot holes. So, Elmo's alternate universe wish thing is happening at the same time as Elmo visiting Santa in his imagination? Why does Oscar need to see this paradox?!
Christmas Carole also shows the Chanukah and Kwanzaa segments once again, for good measure. And things close off with the finale of Elmo Saves Christmas where the cast sings "Keep Christmas With You," even though I thought this special was supposed to have occurred in the past since Rhubarb showed a clip from it. Nothing is making any sense!
Finally, Oscar meets the final ghost, the ghost of Sam the Robot. Okay, what clips could the Ghost of Christmas Future possibly show us? Clips from the Ben Stiller Christmas episode that aired two years later? Clips from a special that hasn't even aired yet? Clips from Elmo Saves Christmas again?!
Please, redeem this special!
Nope, we get no clips. Instead we get a faux-retro cartoon about the "Christmas of Tomorrow," where penguins send a family on an amusement park ride through the various elements of Christmas's future, including self-decorating houses, dinners in pill form, and more cost-effective ways to deliver and make toys. It's...something. At least it's original.
In the morning, Oscar wakes up and decides that these spectral visitors have convinced him to appreciate Christmas. Yecch!
The point of adapting A Christmas Carol is to show how one miserly, miserable individual can change their ways and learn not only to respect themselves, but to value others and become more charitable and kind. Oscar is never once shown the "error of his ways." If anything, these clips should just make him hate Christmas more!
Well, he should be thankful. At least they didn't show any clips from A Special Sesame Street Christmas.