tek's rating:

A Christmas Carol, on BBC One (UK) / FX (USA)
BBC; Christmas Specials Wiki; FX; IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Vudu

Caution: potential spoilers.

This miniseries was produced for the BBC, on which it aired over three nights, from December 22-24, 2019. However, it first aired in the US on FX (which referred to it as "FX's A Christmas Carol") on a single night, December 19. I don't get FX (or BBC), but I did watch like the first two thirds of it on Hulu... and then never got around to watching the end, even though I wanted to. But I finally watched the whole thing in December of 2020.

Chapter One: The Human Beast
It begins on the eve of Christmas Eve, at the grave of Jacob Marley, who died a year ago, in 1842. After that brief scene, we see the Cratchits in church, as services are letting out. Mary is upset that her husband Bob will have to work the next day, on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Eve morning, we see Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) opening his business for the day. Soon, Bob shows up, and Scrooge has a speech about human nature. He believes the kindness people show one another at Christmastime is a lie, and that every other day of the year they demonstrate a lack of concern for one another.

In his grave, Marley begs whoever's in charge of the afterlife to spare him his suffering, unable to find any peace in the grave. Then, he finds himself in Purgatory, where a blacksmith gives him a chain he must wear as penance for all the lives that were lost to his business practices, when he was alive. He's then dragged by horses to a strange, wintry place. He then makes his way to a bonfire, where he meets the Ghost of Christmas Past (Andy Serkis), who tells him his fate is bound to that of Scrooge. If Scrooge doesn't repent, it won't matter that Marley has repented.

Despite some differences from the usual adaptations, much of the story remains familiar. For example, Scrooge's nephew, Fred, comes to Scrooge's office to invite him to dinner the next day. Of course Scrooge declines. But just as with Cratchit, I find Scrooge's conversation with Fred interesting. And when Scrooge goes home for the night and Marley shows up, I find their conversation interesting. There are any number of new touches in this adaptation that I won't go into specifics about, and all of them I find interesting, but mostly it's the new bits of dialogue that I like. Anyway... the first part ends with Scrooge determined to have a battle between "reason and fancy", as he awaits the first of three spirits Marley mentioned to him.

Chapter Two: The Human Heart
Before the Ghost of Christmas Past appears, Scrooge is first visited by a mouse which was once a gift from his sister Lottie, and then by their wretched father, whose bankruptcy and cruelty had provided Scrooge with a hard lesson, early in life. Then the Ghost appears, to help him unlearn that lesson. Most of what he shows Scrooge is new to the story, and all of it quite dark. One thing elicits sympathy for Scrooge, but most of it paints him in a worse light than we've ever seen him. I won't go into specifics.

Chapter Three: A Bag of Gravel
The darkness continues before the Ghost of Christmas Past is done with Scrooge. But next comes the Ghost of Christmas Present, who appears as Lottie. Mostly what she shows Scrooge is more familiar, though some of it does continue from the events of the past that were new in this story. And Scrooge does begin to care about his past transgressions. Then there is the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the things he shows Scrooge are probably the most unchanged part of this adaptation. But the ultimate outcome is somewhat different than the resolution of any other adaptation of the story. It's not a redemption story, and Scrooge himself understands that. Which I think is a good thing. He does change, but not for his own benefit. Because he knows that he doesn't deserve forgiveness for the things he's done.

I guess I don't know what else to say except that I found this whole reimagining of the story to be probably the most powerful one I've ever seen. It's not a feel-good story, by any means, but I appreciated that.

miniseries index
holiday TV movies index
Untitled Document Novella: A Christmas Carol
(The following are adaptations and parodies I've seen or want to see. There are many more I've either forgotten or never seen, most of which I'd have no interest in.)

Films: Scrooge (1951) * Scrooge (1970) * Mickey's Christmas Carol * Scrooged * The Muppet Christmas Carol * A Christmas Carol (2009) *
The Man Who Invented Christmas
TV movies: The Stingiest Man in Town * A Christmas Carol (1984) * A Christmas Carol (1999) * A Christmas Carol: The Musical * Karroll's Christmas *
A Christmas Carol (2019)
TV episodes: see Holiday Parody Episodes