The 12 Days of Muppet Christmas are over for the 2018-2019 season, and because comparisons are apparently meaningless without arbitrary value judgments, it’s time to tally the results:
Muppet Christmas Carol: 6
A Christmas Carol (1999): 5
So, Muppet Christmas Carol wins, right? Well…sort of. Things are a bit more complicated than that.
When I started this project, I anticipated that I would conclude by wishing that I could take the elements that I liked from each production and put them together to create something entirely new. I realize now that that wouldn’t work. Michael Caine and Patrick Stewart each give vastly different interpretations of the character of Scrooge, but each is appropriate to the production he’s in. Michael Caine has to act kind of tame (for lack of a better word) in order to complement the Muppets’ wackiness, but because there are no Muppets in Christmas Carol ’99, Patrick Stewart has to provide a lot of his own comic relief. If his snarky Scrooge was up against the Muppets, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well.
Sitting here thinking about it just now, I realize that I first saw Muppet Christmas Carol when I was 13 years old, which was probably the first thing that I ever saw Michael Caine in. it was sometime in the following year that I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and fell in love, in a sense, with Patrick Stewart. As I think about it now, I believe that, fairly or unfairly, those first impressions of each of those actors have stuck with me all these years and colored my perceptions.
Though I appreciate it much more as an adult, Muppet Christmas Carol was initially a disappointment to me. Christmas Carol ’99 came out in the midst of a transitional time in my life during my first semester at college/university. At the time I hadn’t found my niche yet and still felt out of place, and watching Christmas Carol ’99 was unexpectedly cathartic for me. I think those perceptions and experiences are always going to inform my opinion.
Everyone brings their own history to the table. And that’s fine. It’s good, in fact. We don’t all have to like the same Christmas Carol adaptations, and we don’t all have to like the same Muppet productions. Having different opinions from ours doesn’t make people wrong or stupid or crazy. And we could all, myself included, stand to remind ourselves of that once in a while.
But if you need to believe that MCC won a competition, go ahead. As long as you’re not a jerk about it, I won’t argue with you.