It was directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and features Kelsey Grammer as Ebenezer Scrooge, Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley, Jesse L. Martin as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Emily. The film was broadcast November 28, 2004 on NBC.
The film opens at the London Exchange on Christmas Eve in 1843 where everybody is looking forward to Christmas Day, except for the grouchy and greedy miser Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge, who hates Christmas, shows his cold attitude to others by refusing to show mercy to a father and his daughter who are in debt, supporting the prisons and workhouses for the poor and refusing to dine with his nephew Fred. That night though, as Scrooge dines alone before going to bed, the ghost of his seven-year dead partner Jacob Marley appears. He tells Scrooge to repent or suffer the same as him by wearing a chain like Marley wears: the one he forged from his own greed. Other ghosts who also wear chains also haunt Scrooge, implying they were all selfish and cold-hearted when they were alive. Marley tells Scrooge he will be haunted by three spirits and that the first will call at one o'clock.
The first of the three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, arrives after the bell chimes One. The scene then changes to Scrooge's father who is sent to prison for not paying debts. He tells his son, a young Ebenezer, to make his fortune and keep it. Scrooge and his sister Fan as a result are separated and forced to go their own ways after their mother dies. Scrooge is then shown working at a boot factory as a boy before working for Fezziwig. The young Scrooge and Marley who also worked under Fezziwig set up their own business and begin their money-lending career. However, Scrooge and Marley refuse to lend a loan to Fezziwig, whose business had gone bust and who presumably dies in poverty with his wife. Knowing Scrooge is a changed man, Scrooge's fiancée Emily breaks her engagement with him. Years later, an older Jacob Marley dies seven years before the events of the film.
At the stroke of Two, the Ghost of Christmas Present haunts Scrooge and shows him how others keep Christmas. Scrooge first watches and later takes part in a Christmas pageant. Scrooge is then shown the home and family of his faithful clerk Bob Cratchit. Because the family are so poor, the ghost implies that the youngest child Tiny Tim will die of his unknown illness. The spirit finally shows him two children, Ignorance and Want, before vanishing.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (who is an old hag instead of a figure dressed in black robes) shows Scrooge what lies in store in the future if he doesn't change. The whole future, which is set in song, shows Scrooge on his deathbed being robbed of both his clothes and processions. Tiny Tim has died with his family mourning him. After seeing his grave, Scrooge is surrounded by the Cratchits, the debt-ridden little girl, and the spirits of his beloved mother and sister.
Finally Scrooge returns home as the opposite of what he was. He orders a young boy to buy him a huge turkey and to keep the change. He then tells the little girl's father he is no longer in debt and gives him and his daughter money to spend. Subsequently, he bumps into the three people he met the day before - a candle-lighter, a barker and an old, blind woman — and thanks them heavily, which implies that unlike the book and other films, Scrooge simply dreamed them up as the three spirits. Scrooge gives Bob and his family the turkey and increases Bob's wages. The film ends with Scrooge visiting Fred for dinner and the whole cast sing "Christmas Together" in reprise.Kelsey Grammer as Ebenezer Scrooge
Jane Krakowski as Ghost of Christmas Past/Lamplighter
Jesse L. Martin as Ghost of Christmas Present/Sandwich Board Man
Geraldine Chaplin as Ghost of Christmas Future/Blind Old Hag
Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley's Ghost
Edward Gower as Bob Cratchit
Linzi Hateley as Mrs. Cratchit
Jacob Collier as Tiny Tim
Julian Ovenden as Fred Anderson
Julie Alannagh-Brighten as Sally Anderson
Ruthie Henshall as Mrs. Scrooge (Scrooge's mother)
Jennifer Love Hewitt as Emily
Lea-Verity White as Fan Scrooge Anderson
Sheila Reid as Mrs. Mops
Ian McLarnon as Mr. Smythe
Emily Deamer as Grace Smythe
Brian Bedford as Mr. Fezziwig
Claire Moore as Mrs. Fezziwig
Steven Miller as Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Mike Kelly as John William Scrooge (Scrooge's father)
Lyricist Lynn Ahrens wrote the teleplay, based on her and Mike Ockrent's book for the original Madison Square Garden stage musical. The score contains 22 songs, also adapted from the stage. The opening number, "Jolly Good Time," is a more jovial reworking of the first two numbers in the stage version, "The Years Are Passing By" and "Jolly, Rich, and Fat." In the next number, "Nothing to Do With Me", Scrooge first encounters the three ghosts of Christmas in their physical guises as a lamplighter (Past), a charity show barker (Present), and a blind beggar woman (Future). We also see Scrooge's long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit buying a Christmas chicken with his son Tiny Tim in the song "You Mean More to Me."
The visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley becomes a large-scale production number ("Link By Link"), featuring a half-dozen singing, dancing spirits presented with various levels of makeup and special effects. One of these ghosts in this version is known to be an old colleague of Scrooge and Marley's, Mr. Haynes, who was said to be "mean to the bone," resulting in his charred skeleton. Other puns include a headless spirit who wanted to get ahead, a man with a safe full of coins in his chest who "never had a heart" and a man carrying a box that contains his arm because he "never lent a hand."
The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jane Krakowski) sings "The Lights of Long Ago", a number reinforcing her signature theme of illuminating Scrooge's worldview. One notable departure from Dickens' novella in this portion of the film is its depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge's father, identified as John William Scrooge, being sentenced to debtors' prison while his horrified family looks on (a scene inspired by events from Dickens' own childhood).
The Ghost of Christmas Present gets two numbers, "Abundance and Charity" and "Christmas Together," in which he makes his point that Christmas is a time for celebration, generosity, and fellowship. The former takes place at a fantastical version of the charity show he was seen promoting on Christmas Eve, and the latter whisks Scrooge on a tour of London that includes the homes of his nephew Fred, his clerk Bob Cratchit, and Mr. Smythe, a recently widowed client of Scrooge's lending house.
Unlike the faceless phantom that embodies Christmas Yet to Come in most versions of A Christmas Carol (including the book), this film features a mute sorceress figure clad in white (a transmogrification of the blind hag who appears on Christmas Eve). The entire Christmas Future sequence plays out in song ("Dancing On Your Grave," "You Mean More to Me (Reprise)," and "Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today"), culminating in Scrooge's awakening in his bedroom on Christmas morning.
"What a Day, What a Sky" serves as a musical bookend to "Nothing to Do With Me," dramatizing Scrooge's new outlook as he races through the streets of London making amends. The film concludes with a reprise of "Christmas Together" featuring the entire cast.