‘Tis The Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Shortly after we moved to our current house, my son and I were looking for a show to watch late at night and found a show called The Goes Wrong Show on BritBox. We clicked on it and were, quite frankly, bewildered by it.

It was a group of about seven people acting out a play and completely messing up lines, tripping off props, and being all-out insanely weird.

We weren’t sure if these people were really messing up their plays or if they were pretending to mess up a play, or  . . .what was going on.

We watched the first episode and laughed so hard that our sides hurt. Obviously, we eventually caught on that the whole show was meant to be a joke and that the actors were real actors playing fake actors on a show about actors.

Later we watched the episodes with The Husband and he laughed so hard I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel.

We watched the whole season and I have to say the Christmas episode was my favorite that first season. Flash forward to last year and we discovered this group — which we had since found out was called Mischief Theatre — had been featured in a special called A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong on the BBC.

Moving us up in the timeline to a couple of weeks ago and we arrive at the moment I suggested to Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs that we include A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong in our list of Christmas movies to watch for our ‘Tis The Season Cinema.  Comedy is featuring heavily on our movie watching list over the next couple of months because Erin and I both need heartwarming and funny in our lives right now.

With A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong we are getting more than just funny but also pure ridiculousness.

For a little background on the actor troupe who takes part in this Christmas special, according to Wikipedia, “Mischief Theatre is a British theatre company founded in 2008 by a group of students from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in West London, and directed by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. The group originally began by doing improvised comedy shows, but by 2012 they expanded into comedic theatrical performances that include choreographed routines, jokes, and stunts.

The company is best known for its performances as the fictional theatre company, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who attempt several amateur performances that comedically go wrong.”

If you look up Mischief Theatre online, as I did after we became hooked on their television show, you’ll see that the cast are very accomplished stage actors, some of them having won Olivier’s and other prestigious writing and acting awards. Most of their work, incidentally, is performed live and is often improv as they interact with the audience during their performances.

On the surface, the entire performance of any of their shows seems simple and fairly stupid but when you think about the talent needed to recite the lines of the original play they are putting on (in this case A Christmas Carol) while also having to pretend to mess up their lines and other aspects of the play, you realize what talent these actors actually have.

The fact they only have seven cast members playing all the parts and remembering all the lines and where the various pratfalls need to happen make it even more amazing. Then there is the focus they need to keep acting, even with the chaos going on around them.

There are also storylines going on between cast members behind the scenes that carry on throughout the various episodes and specials.

In this particular special, the comedy group has taken over the BBC’s production of A Christmas Carol by kidnapping and dragging out the main stars, including Derek Jacobi, a famous British actor.  Actress Diana Rigg plays the narrator part of the time but literally has to “phone it in” because she is stuck in traffic.

Things, of course, go completely haywire and become even crazier when one of the actors believes he should be the lead actor and tries to knock out the director (Chris) to take over the lead as Scrooge. While trying to take out Chris, though, he injures other cast members or ends up destroying various sets.

Another pair of cast members are in a romantic relationship and things may, or may not, be on the rocks throughout the entire night, making the show even more entertaining. There is also a cast member who can’t remember any of his lines for most of the shows and in this one they think of a creative way to help him with that issue.

You can watch A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong in its entirety for free on YouTube:

Don’t blame me if you end up looking up their show and their production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

You can read up on Erin’s impression of this silly show on her blog.

Up next for our Christmas special features (the dates are when we are sharing our specials):

Nov. 24: White Christmas

Dec. 1: Muppets Christmas Carol

Dec. 8: Holiday Inn                                                                           

Dec. 15: It’s A Wonderful Life

Dec. 22: Charlie Brown Christmas and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Sunday Bookends: friend visits, warm weather, and Christmas movies

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I have been reading a collection of Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton and have been enjoying them for the most part. The third one I read went off on a weird ramble for several pages that had nothing to do with the story I thought but these were written in the early 1900s so I cut Chesterton some slack.

I have also been reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain with The Boy for school and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with Little Miss.

I’ll probably start a new fiction book this week, but I’m not sure which one yet. I have a few I’ve read the first few pages of an am liking so I just need to pick one. The Seven and a half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has caught my attention so far.

What’s Been Occurring

This past week Little Miss and I were both surprised when her little friends who moved to Texas a year and a half ago, came back to stay.

Little Miss had a blast visiting with them during the week. We were still able to finish schoolwork but it was pushed off to the evenings to they could play together.

The friends are signed up back into school now so we won’t have our school days interrupted as much.

She was able to visit with some other friends yesterday.

We didn’t do a lot last week other than school. We had been doing game nights once a week with my parents but I had congestion and they were doing other things most days so we will have to have a game night another time.

The weather was oddly warm all week and then today it dropped into the 40s and it is literally downhill from here. It’s like we were in spring and then drastically plunged into winter. Our sinuses are definitely going to suffer even more this week. As I was writing this actual snow started to fall. Yuck.

What We watched/are Watching

This week I watched light and fluffy stuff including a couple of Hallmark movies even though I am not the biggest fan of Hallmark movies. I do like the movies based on the short-lived show Signed, Sealed, Delivered which follows a group of employees in the Dead Letter Office of the United States Postal Service. The premise – of them solving mysteries surrounding lost letters or packages — is a bit far fetched but the overall stories are uplifting and encouraging.

Earlier in the week I watched The Man Who Invented Christmas as part of the ‘Tis the Season Cinema feature Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I started this week. We are watching Christmas movies from now until the week before Christmas. Next up is A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong which you can find here on YouTube:

This special was on the BBC and is part of a series of specials and shows about a theater group who is always messing up or somehow ruining their shows with misspoken words or mishaps.

What I’m Writing

I didn’t share much on the blog this week other than the last chapters of Mercy’s Shore (Shores of Mercy).

I had to add a quick chapter to Shores of Mercy and also started a couple other stories to see which one sticks in my brain for me to continue it.

I did share a blog post about The Man Who Invented Christmas.

What I’m Listening To

I am listening to a lot of Family Life, our local Christian radio station.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

‘Tis The Season Cinema: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I are starting a feature today where we will share our impressions of Christmas movies, in the same way we did for Halloween movies and the summer classic movies. Yes, we are starting this early at the risk of offending all the Christmas purists who believe you can not watch Christmas movies before December 1. One of those people is my son who showed me this meme when I told him what we were doing:

Anyhow….I digress:

This week we are kicking things off with the origin of the definitive Christmas story (other than the real reason for the season, Christ’s birth) through the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Off the topic (again), but while looking for the movie on Amazon, a ton of movies that started with three words, The Man Who… popped up and made me realize that’s either a very popular title or a very lazy one.

The movie starts with an elated Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) who is in America, riding the wave of success of Oliver Twist. Within minutes, though, we are tossed into the future where Charles has just had three books flop.

He’s toured Britain and America and been celebrated in the past but now he is home and has what every writer dreads: writer’s block.

He needs a hit, not only for his ego but to pay for all the renovations at his home and to support his growing family.

Did you know that Dickens had 10 children? Because before watching this movie I didn’t either. I looked it up and found some other unpleasant behaviors of his, which was sad, but he was still a fascinating man.

Okay, back to the movie.

His publishers are ready to toss him out on his ear, but his agent suggests they keep him on if he writes a new book. The publishers are excited. Of course they will keep him on if he’s going to write them a new book they tell his agent.

The problem? Charles doesn’t even have an idea for a new book.

Bring in the new housemaid who begins telling stories that ignite his imagination and inspire him to tell the story of a selfish, bitter old man who begins to — quite literally — come alive in his mind.

He decides it will be a Christmas book but it’s halfway through October. “There isn’t time to write and publish a book and market it by Christmas,” they tell him.

He’s left to pay for the book on his own. Pay for it and write it at the same time his estranged father arrives for a visit.

This is the father whose debts left 12-year-old Charles working in a shoe factory to pay off those debts.

His relationship with his manipulative father weighs heavily on his writing of this new book which he eventually titles A Christmas Carol.

This movie takes the viewer on a delightful journey and you don’t have to be a writer to relate to the many interruptions he faces as he tries to write, but being one makes it even more relatable.

The insane creativity of this movie is what drew me in. Watching the characters appear in Dickens’ world as he writes them is fascinating for someone who also writes fiction and experiences characters come alive in my brain. Dickens also draws from his own life to craft his stories, which is again something I can also relate to. The way Charles lives his life with all his characters following him along each step of the way isn’t a far-fetched concept for writers who have done the same, though probably never finding as much success as Dickens and looking even crazier than he did.

My son tells me I’m borderline insane because I have a bunch of people living in my brain and sometimes I talk to them. He is, of course, joking. I think. He’d better be since he talks to the characters in his video games like they are real.

Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) wakes Charles at one point during the night in the movie and I had to laugh because that is when all the best ideas come for writers — when they’d rather be sleeping or need to be doing something else. I often feel like a character is whispering in my ear as I try to drift off, saying things like, “Hey, about that conversation I shared earlier, I forgot to tell you part of it. Can you just get up and write that part down so it’s accurate? That would be great.”

There is a great deal of sadness in the movie as Charles uncovers his own demons at the same time he uncovers Scrooge’s, but there is also incredible hope as he works to push his past heartache and bitterness to the side and find happiness in his life.

“I’m afraid,” he tells his friend/agent.

“What have you got to be afraid of?” the friend asks.

“That if I can’t finish it, I’ll never write again,” he responds.

It was a true fear for Charles, but ultimately unwarranted as he went on to write ten more novels, other novellas and short stories, including Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield.

Read Erin’s impression of the movie on her blog.

If you’d like to join us in this seven-week feature at any point, you can do so. Here is our list of upcoming movies (the dates are when we plan to publish our blog posts):

Nov. 17 A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Nov. 24: White Christmas

Dec. 1: Muppets Christmas Carol

Dec. 8: Holiday Inn                                                                           

Dec. 15: It’s A Wonderful Life

Dec. 22: Charlie Brown Christmas and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

How I found out everyone hates the Christmas movies I like

Much to my horror this Christmas season I learned that half my family hates some of my favorite Christmas movies. I was crushed. Not really, but you know, we’ll pretend.

It turns out where I thought it should be tradition to watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Story’ my family (immediate and extended) didn’t feel the same and decided this year to vomit all over my Christmas movie parade.

I heard words like “schmaltz”, “cheesy,” “overplayed,” “sick of” and “not really my favorite, no” about my favorite movies. Okay, they aren’t my favorite movies really. And okay. I’ll admit it. I don’t want to see the entire movie of either movie. I mean, you can only watch one movie so many times before it’s like “Okay, okay…I get it.” And I hate the ending scene of It’s A Wonderful Life with the little girl saying “Every time a bell rings an angel gets its’ wings.” It’s sort of annoying because it’s been parodied so much.

Still, there are at least three scenes in the movie that I just adore and one of them is one of my favorite scenes in any movie I’ve seen. Whether you have seen the movie or not, I’ll set the stage: George has come to talk to Mary, at the prodding of his mother and he’s pretty down because his brother Harry has come home and it looks like he’s not going to stay and take over the Savings and Loan so George can go to college, like the original plan. Instead, George is going to be stuck at the savings and loan, no education or experience outside his little town under his belt.

He walks off to see Mary, who his mother hopes will lift his spirits (and I’m pretty sure she hopes he’ll realize he loves Mary too). Long story short, George and Mary’s old friend Sam Wainwright calls to talk to Mary but then he wants to talk to George too so they are sharing the old rotary phone – the one where the earpiece is detached from the mouthpiece.



This necessitates George being close to Mary to hear and being close to Mary is the one thing George really doesn’t want because that’s when he starts to realize how much he really wants her. I love the acting in the scene – how you can see Jimmy Stewart’s expression change as he starts to smell her hair, feel him next to her. He wants to kiss her, hold her, not talk to Sam and it’s clear as each moment goes by and Sam continues to prattle on. Mary is starting to notice it too and her face is showing the struggle of her wanting to be close to George too.

Finally, George cracks and he’s holding Mary and she’s crying and he’s telling her he doesn’t want to get married because he doesn’t want to stay in this little town.

“I want to do what I want to do,” he tells her, grasping her shoulders and shaking her.


He’s leaving, he’s not going to stay with her, and he wants her to know that, but he’s saying it more for himself than her because he knows he loves Mary and he knows his love for her will keep him tied down in this little town and will complicate his life even more. And all along, Mary’s mother is crying because her daughter is going to marry a poor man like George instead of the rich businessman, Sam.

I love that scene because it’s so real. It’s a man not wanting to admit he’s in love, instead of the usual schmaltzy romances where the man is going after the woman like a tenth-degree horn dog, so to speak.

According to trivia, I read about the scene, Jimmy Stewart was nervous about filming it because it was his first onscreen kiss since he had returned from World War II. Director Frank Capra guided him and the scene ended up unrehearsed and shot in one take. It worked so well that part of the embrace was too passionate and had to be cut from the movie because it couldn’t get past the censors.

In case you’re curious, my other favorite scenes are when the floor opens up and everyone falls in the pool and when George tells Mary he’ll lasso her the moon if she wants it.

As for A Christmas Story, I’ve rarely gone a Christmas season without watching the scene of him in the mall with Santa and the scene where he beats up the bully. I did not, however, see it this year, so I broke with tradition.

So truly, I wasn’t that offended (that offended) that part of my family doesn’t believe in watching the classics. Two things made me sad about it all, though. One, a lot of people seem to be annoyed with or disenchanted with some old, classic, sweet movies anymore and instead want to watch movies with what I believe often feature unnecessary smut, crudeness, and violence. Two, I miss my Christmas movie watching buddy, my aunt Dianne who I used to watch the favorite scenes of these movies with and who passed away four days after Christmas in 2017. These movies weren’t necessarily her favorite movies either, but we liked the tradition of watching them. More than missing the innocence movies used to show, I miss having that tradition with Dianne, but not as much as I miss just having her here to talk to.

How about you? Do you have favorite movies or at least favorite movie scenes? And do you have any sentimental memories attached to the scenes of movie? Let me know in the comments.

Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.

I’m on a Christmas romance movie binge. Help me.

As I’ve mentioned before here on the blog, we are in the midst of selling our house and have put in an offer on a new one. As anyone who has sold a house knows, this is a very stressful process. Between house showings looking at offers, and thinking about moving our entire household 40 minutes away, I feel like my muscles are extra tight and my brain is extra fuzzy.

In an effort to reclaim my sanity I’ve been attempting to shut my brain off at the end of the day with Lifetime Christmas romance movies on Amazon, which are pretty cheesy and don’t require much brainpower. Disclaimer: I am NOT being paid by Amazon and I am NOT an Amazon affiliate (they rejected me. I’m not influential enough. *wink* but also I just don’t write about enough stuff I would be linking to anything on Amazon. I just happened to find the movies on Amazon because we have Amazon Prime Video.)

Some of these movies are horribly written, terribly acted and lead me to fast forward through almost all of the movie, but a few of them haven’t been so bad and I’ve actually looked forward to seeing what happens at the end. I mean, of course, the guy is going to get the girl or the girl is going to get the guy and everyone is going to live happily ever after, but you know, maybe just one will have the girl kick the guy to the curb at the end and decide she can live her life without a man. I probably wouldn’t like that, though either, because I’m a bit of a romantic.

To be a Lifetime Christmas movie checks must be marked off on the checklist. First, there is always some sort of deadline for something that has to happen before … yes, Christmas or Christmas Eve, at least. Second, there has to be a woman or man who just recently broke up with someone or who hasn’t had a date in years, down on their luck. Third, there must be some sort of conflict with the person’s parents (if they aren’t dead) or sister or ex or boss. Then there has to be a love interest and after the love interest is met there will be some sort of conflict between the potential lovers, usually a secret that the main character finds out and then leaves because of. By the end, of course, the two will come together again after one of them decides to chase the other one down.

The main character also always has to have either a gay best friend or a fat best friend and they also always have to have either a dead parent, spouse, or sibling. The dead relative is a very common plot device in any movie, but it is a requirement for a Hallmark/Lifetime romance/Chrismas movie.

Since it is 2019 (almost 2020) these movies also need to make sure they are very inclusive, which means they all have to have at least one African American, one Asian, one Hispanic, one Indian (like from India), and a gay couple. It’s too bad they forget the Native Americans, but, come on, how much diversity can you have in one movie, right? (Is it just me or do the Native Americans often get shafted in our country? Still? Anyhoooo…) Seriously, though, it has to be stressful trying to make sure you represent everyone possible in a movie, so hats off to them for trying and I do like the diversity.

I also like that modern Christmas/cheesy Lifetime movies don’t even blink at portraying interracial couples and romances because once upon a time those movies segregated themselves with either an all-black cast/romance or an all-white cast/romance. Is it odd that I’m even noticing this? It is odd to me, probably because I’m not really someone who usually has hang-ups about so-called “politically incorrectness” in movies.

Anyhow, a couple of the movies I watched were intriguing and less predictable than usual, so, in other words, I could stomach them. Also, the acting wasn’t so bad. The storylines of three of them were okay, the others – yeah, pretty awful. If nothing else, there is usually something to mock during the movie so it is at least distracting from the stresses of life.

Trading Christmas

Back when I tried to get into Debbie Macomber books (I never did, but I like her as a person!) I bought (yes, bought) Trading Christmas, mainly because Tom Cavanaugh was in it and I love Tom Cavanaugh. Faith Ford from Murphy Brown fame is in it as well. I was also surprised with the appearance of Gabrielle Miller from Corner Gas, a Canadian sitcom we got hooked on this year. The story is about a woman (Ford), whose daughter (some actress) decides she isn’t coming home for Christmas from college. Ford’s character, who lost her husband a few years before, is sad and decides to try to find a way to visit her daughter in Boston.


Tom Cavanaugh’s character needs to find a way to finish his book and is a big Christmas scrooge so the two begin looking online for places to “trade” for a couple of weeks. The fun ensues from there, especially since Tom’s brother is back in Boston and starts to get to know Faith Ford’s character (*wink* *wink*) and Faith Ford’s best friend comes to her house for Christmas, not knowing she isn’t even there.

Christmas Pen Pals

Sarah Drew (she’s also in Mom’s Night Out, which my family really enjoyed) plays Hannah Morris who is a tech-obsessed business owner who runs an online matchmaking company that is spiraling into the toilet. Her business partner tells her to go take a break and live in the real world for a while so they can figure out how to save the business so Hannah returns home to visit her father and sister (popular plot point – Mom is dead. Apparently Lifetime is now like Disney; always killing off a parent or parents.)

MV5BOTgyMzk0OTM2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjUxMDQxMTE@._V1_Niall Matter (who I know from Eureka as the hot scientist dude) plays Sam, an old boyfriend of Hannah’s (predictable? Yes, it is.) and Michael Gross portrays her father. The acting is charming and pretty natural, compared to other movies of the same type. The plot? Well, you know – it’s a Lifetime Christmas movie. The plot isn’t going to be very deep. The plot is essentially the small town mail lady suggests a Christmas pen pal program that the town used to do in the 1940s and Hannah agrees to try it if her widowed father does. There you go. Let your imagination run wild with that and you might be able to figure out the ending already. The characters are likable and how they get there is a little bit interesting, however, so it’s probably worth a watch (if you want to put your brain away for a little while, at least).

Christmas Around the Corner

This one was unique because the acting was spot on and nowhere near as cheesy and awkward as other Lifetime movies I’ve seen. The characters were very likeable (though the movie was a little preachy about the gay priest and his husband, but whatever. It’s 2019. We have to be preached at or we don’t know what to think, right?)

919ztXvTJJL._RI_The basic premise is that the main character’s business is falling apart (yes, another one of those) so she travels to Vermont for a month to stay in an apartment over a bookstore her mother (yes, dead) once visited. Apparently part of the deal of staying there is that she has to manage the bookstore while she’s there. (I’m sorry…what? Really? Who does that?).

As always, she has a month to turn everything around for this little store before Christmas or it will be sold by the (hot) owner.

Gift Wrapped Christmas 

Gift Wrapped Christmas was enjoyable to me, mainly because the main character reminded me so much of my cousin Sue. The male main character was fairly stoic and stiff in his acting but the movie was saved by the actress (Meredith Hagner) and again, probably because she was all bubbly, quick-witted, pretty and fun like my cousin.

Of course, it employed the usual cheesy movie tripe where the love interest has a mean girlfriend who threatens the main character and reminds her she’s the girlfriend (who thinks she is getting a ring, of course), but oh well, it wasn’t a deal breaker for me to finish the movie.

The Christmas Cabin

iglzg-68CRFCXT9PP-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1572883902041._SX1080_The Christmas Cabin was a little bit different because it was mainly two people stuck in a cabin, talking. There wasn’t the normal “He has a girlfriend already” or “she has a boyfriend” already and they would need to dump said girlfriend/boyfriend to pursue a relationship. In fact, this one wasn’t even really about anyone pursuing someone, other than the man pursuing the woman to sell her half of a cabin so he can make money off of the “treasure” that is supposedly on the land.

It did have the usual storyline that the two people hate each other to start off with and then they fall in love  . . . or do they? The lead actress’s acting was not the best but the male lead made up for it.

Wrapped up In Christmas

I will not lie. I pushed fast forward through most of this movie. Terribly cringeworthy. A mall executive has to close down stores in the mall at the urging of her boss but in the midst of this dilemma she meets a handsome man who she doesn’t know is the nephew of the owner of one of the stores being shut down.

The handsome man is an ex-lawyer who is painting and working for his aunt while he figures out what he wants to do with his life, but who talks himself up after the main character’s niece tells him (while he’s dressed as Santa) that her aunt needs a man for Christmas and what she likes in a man. I think that by reading the above paragraph you can figure out why I fast-forwarded through the majority of the movie.  I was too lazy to even lookup the actors names for this one but I’m guessing they don’t mind their names not being attached to it.

I’ve pushed play on another one of these movies while writing this and my husband and son just asked if I’m okay. They can’t figure out why I keep watching these movies because most of them are so awful. Yesterday my son said “Oh my gosh, mom. Why are you watching this?” I said “Hey, I can go back on social media and start talking about  politics again.” And he said “Nope. Nope. That’s good. Please keep watching your dumb movies.”

They did both agree with me that Trading Christmas was okay, however.

I think I keep watching the movies because 1) I need to check my brain at the door and 2) I keep hoping I’ll find a good one.

So, are you a fan of the “cheesy” Christmas movies from Lifetime, Hallmark and wherever else? Let me know in the comments.

Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at Alamy.com and Lightstock.com.