Ms. Scrooge (1997) - USA Network
Ebenita Scrooge (Cicely Tyson) is a cranky, hateful old person who runs a bank / pawn shop and oppresses the community. We see Ebenita in all her glory as she forces her employees to work during the Holidays, pays them minimum wage, gives them no health care bennies, and gives the community mafia rate payday loans. I dig that in 1843, when a Christmas Carol was first published, your employment opportunities were limited, but in 1997... these people need to get freshen up their resumes and get better gigs.
So you know the routine. Marley (Katherine Hellmond) drops by and issues a sage warning about eternal damnation unless Ebenita's evil ways are changed, followed by three ghosts to assist in this gargantuan task.
Christmas Past shows us a happy young Ebenita until the WHITE MAN burnt down her father's grocery store with him inside, leaving the family in eternal debt. Then her mom dies, but she meets a nice boy but they broke up because Ebenita didn't want to leave her new job oppressing people for Marley, and then her brother dies in Vietnam. I gotta say, that's a crap past that might certainly leave somebody a little bitter.
Christmas Present shows us all of the oppressed people, who are still happy and stuff despite Ebenita's best efforts, like Cratchit and his eternally dying child Timmy.
Christmas Yet to Come highlights Ebenita all deaded up, no one to mourn her, no flowers, no music, her business repo'd by the IRS, and Timmy FINALLY dying, What can Ebenita do to make it better? To change this sad future? A wise man once told me "If you throw money at a problem, that problem tends to go away". I think that's the ultimate message of a Christmas Carol.
So... you know... it's a Christmas Carol. We've seen a few of these modern retellings and as such it just depends how you handle the inner working since the structure has already been done for you. Something like Scrooged or a 'Diva's Christmas Carol'... which may or may not be covered in these hellish 30 days... goes out the box a bit with the inner workings, but Ms. Scrooge pretty much sticks to the basic script, just set in 1997, featuring a cranky old Black woman instead of a cranky old white dude.
Is it any good? Who knows? Cicely Tyson is a legend and all, but her version of Scrooge was very scary and demonic, even after she was retrofitted as a good person. I think it was that smile. And any kid watching this in 1997 is probably still having nightmares of Katherine Hellmond's ghostly apparition version of Marley. But it's watchable, if not a bit grating.
Not very vomit worthy either. Of course the plot is vomit worthy, it's a Christmas Carol for goodness sakes, but no wise old people since the old people in this are the antithesis of wise, and just one cute kid, but he's dying which limits his cuteness. Not a lot of canned Christmas music and there's also a minimum of eye rolling dialog. The best thing was that Ebenita had a money room full of loot just like Scrooge McDuck. That's awesome. I wan't a Scrooge McDuck money room.