Monday, December 24, 2012
'Merry Christmas, Uncle!' | Campfire’s A Christmas Carol (2010)
Last year, my biggest issue with this adaptation was the art. Naresh Kumar is capable enough at drawing, but he's not a strong storyteller and that problem continues into this year's scene. He does draw Fred coming through the door as he greets his uncle (giving his entrance a proper, abrupt feel), but that could be in the script. There's only one panel where any real acting is done with the characters: a close up of Scrooge's eyes as he talks about the stake of holly through the heart. His eyes are asymmetrical - one's squinting more than the other - so it looks like Scrooge is coming unhinged in his anger. I'll give Kumar the benefit of the doubt that that's what he intended.
Other than that though, Scrooge and Fred go through the scene with no real expression. Occasionally, they look like they're smiling cordially at each other. There's no tension in the artwork and we get no insight to these characters from looking at them.
The script is serviceable for the most part. Scott McCullar continues to update the language some and makes the expected trims to the dialogue. There's only one change that's noteworthy, but unfortunately, not in a good way. During Fred's speech, McCullar changes "the only time I know of [...] when men and women [...] think of people below them" to "Christmas is the only time I know of when men and women can think of others." I hate that he adds that "can" to it. In McCullar's version, Fred is saying that the only possible time for people to open their hearts to others is at Christmas, which is a) patently untrue, and b) not at all Fred's point in Dickens. It's not the only time that we can think of others; it's just - sadly - often the only time that we do. That's a huge, important difference.
Cratchit's applause after Fred's speech isn't noteworthy. There's no humor to it at all and we don't even see Cratchit's face during the scene to get a feel for how he reacts to Scrooge's threats.
Scrooge's line about seeing Fred in hell before joining him for dinner is replaced with a simple "bah," and the conversation about Fred's marriage is so passionless (again, mostly a problem with the art) that there's no feel whatsoever about what's really going on in Fred and Scrooge's relationship.
There is one last bit of interest though as the scene transitions to the next one. Like Scrooge's eyes above, I don't know if this is intentional or not, but let's imagine that it is. As Fred leaves and exchanges greetings with Cratchit, Scrooge makes fun of Cratchit as he does in Dickens. Rather than muttering it to himself though, he says it out loud and the word balloons spill into the panel in which the charity solicitors are entering the room. Scrooge is also smiling welcomingly at the solicitors (not knowing yet that they aren't there for business) as he says it, so it looks like he's putting down Cratchit in front of potential customers. Intentional on the storytellers' part or not, it's the jerkiest thing Scrooge has done so far and I like it.