At the present time, it is day 5 of the 12 days of Muppet Christmas, and the time is ripe to consider the Ghost of Christmas Present as he appeared in The Muppet Christmas Carol as well as Christmas Carol ’99.
Ghost of Christmas Present
Though I had some question about whether the Ghost of Christmas Past qualifies as an actual Muppet, I have no question that the Ghost of Christmas Present does. If the Gorgs qualify as Muppets (and they do) then Christmas Present qualifies as well. As far as I know, the puppet was built specifically for this production and has never been used since, which is really a shame because the character is so delightful.
I know nothing at all about Desmond Barrit, the actor who played Christmas Present in Christmas Carol ’99. As far as I know, this is the only thing I’ve ever seen him in. However, his is not my favorite interpretation of the character. His Christmas Present seems cheerful enough at first but gets offended when Scrooge off-handedly remarks that 1,800 brothers is a large family to provide for and remains rather dour from then on out.
On the other hand, Christmas Present in Muppet Christmas Carol is almost unfailingly friendly and jovial, and gets one of the best songs in the entire movie:
Because of this, it’s all the more powerful when he does momentarily lose his patience with Scrooge and throws his previous words about decreasing the surplus population back in his face. Jerry Juhl then wisely omits the rest of the speech about forebearing that wicked cant, the insect on the leaf etc. It’s fine writing and works well on the page, but in this case it isn’t necessary; the Ghost of Christmas Present has made his point. MCC’s Christmas Present soon forgives Scrooge and lets bygones be bygones, and when it comes time for him to fade away, he and Scrooge part on good terms.
It’s possible, however, that I’m not being completely fair to Christmas Present from Christmas Carol ’99 in saying that he’s dour and grumpy nearly the whole time. Though he keeps telling Scrooge that they have to leave Fred’s house, he indulges Scrooge when he wants to stay behind just a little longer to watch the games or listen to the music. Nevertheless, it is true that it is Mrs. Cratchit’s muttered remark that Scrooge will be as merry on Christmas as a graveyard on a wet Sunday that gets the biggest laugh out of him the whole time.
It is something of a shame that Ignorance and Want are omitted from MCC because that’s some good writing and a strong message that is still relevant even today, but doesn’t really fit the overall tone of MCC. It’s unfortunate, but it’s understandable.
The Ghost of Christmas Past from MCC seems like a lot more fun to be around, and a much pleasanter personality, so if forced to choose between the two, I would choose him.
Advantage: Muppet Christmas Carol
2 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Muppet Christmas Carol: Ghost of Christmas Present”
Oh, how I love the Muppet Christmas Carol (it’s the only one I have on DVD, though I did get to record the Stewart version and will eventually see it all). I love the “It Feels Like Christmas” song, and I suppose for a Christmas Carol that was definitely more kid-friendly, leaving out the kids Ignorance and Want was that kind of choice. Unless they rewrote the speech to be more modern, I don’t see kids really getting it that well.
Yeah, it’s a shame that some things have to hit the cutting room floor, but I think leaving Ignorance and Want out of MCC was a rhetorically effective choice. Hopefully at least some kids take Gonzo’s advice at the end and read the book.
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