I’ll go first with a few of mine.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
An obvious one but one that still stands up. Despite all the Muppet-y fun I think what really makes this is Michael Caine’s central performance - it never feels like he’s mugging or playing a pantomime version, it feels sincere and true in a way that you’d expect from a more ‘straight’ take. Despite mentioning the other day that my kids weren’t that bothered by this movie (or the Muppets in general), one of them asked to put it on last Saturday night and we watched the whole thing and enjoyed it all over again.
A wonderful modern update that not only provides a great role for Bill Murray (pushing his version of Scrooge, Frank Cross, as far into nasty territory as possible in a fun satire of 1980s consumer, corporate and media culture) but it also has lots of meta fun with the staging of a live TV version of the Scrooge story within the story of the movie itself. If you’re not singing along by the end of this then you don’t have a heart.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
My favourite of the Doctor Who Christmas specials, this one is a direct riff on Dickens with a fun time-travel twist. Michael Gambon turns in a brilliant performance as the Scroogier-than-Scrooge Sardick, as the Doctor uses his TARDIS to travel back into his past and improve his childhood and turn him into a better person, while Amy shows up to try and convince him of the plight in the present of a doomed spaceship about to crash on Sardick’s planet. But it’s the ‘ghost of Christmas future’ scene that provides the best twist of all, as the Doctor shows the younger Sardick the man he’s destined to grow up to be. Oh, and there’s also a giant flying shark pulling a sleigh, which I’m sure Charles Dickens would have included if he’d thought of it.
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol
This one is tons of fun, revolving around one great central twist: this version of Scrooge (Ebenezer Blackadder) starts off as a good and kind man, and the ghosts of Christmases past and future inadvertently end up turning him evil by showing him that bad guys have all the fun. I’ve watched this show maybe more than any other episode of TV and it works for me every time.
Grant Morrison’s Batman
Ok, this is a bit of a tenuous one, but I enjoyed the way Morrison used the framework of the three ghosts of past, present and future to toy with Batman in the opening of his mega-run, ultimately helping to shift Batman’s mindset from the angry loner version to a version that was more trusting and reliant on his friends and family.