Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 2
So Scrooge has landed in Wisconsin, and we get his moment of shock—he hears sirens, and is almost run over by a car (which is inexplicably speeding down an alley).
“What is this place? Marleeeeeey!!!”
That’s kinda weird: as though Marley does this sort of thing all the time, and Scrooge just knows that this is his doing.
Except that in Carol, Marley really didn’t have much to do with the actual proceedings. He didn’t take Scrooge all over time and space; the Spirits of Christmas did. Sure, Marley could do a few parlor tricks, but there’s no reason I can see why Scrooge should automatically assume this is Marley’s mission.
Now, this is all very reminiscent of the events in Time Changer…and what is also reminiscent is the hero being surprised by things which should not surprise him, and not surprised by things that should surprise him.
Case in point: Scrooge peeks into a dumpster, and make a face. Okay, yeah, garbage is icky and all, but the guy is coming from Horse Dung Central, so you’d think modern small-town Wisconsin would smell like Heaven in comparison.
Anyway, cut to the offices of Scrooge and Cratchit, where Ron is trying to talk Tim out of foreclosing on Belle. (And then what, Ron? Let her run the business even more into the ground than she already has?) Tim speaks truth:
“We’re doing her a favor. The woman has no business sense. Foreclosing on her now will keep her from sinking into further debt. She owes me a thank you.”
Ron also bring up the fact that the Bridge Club will be “displaced” (by which I assume he means they won’t get three free squares a day from Belle anymore), and Tim shoehorns in a comment about “decreasing the surplus population,” which doesn’t make a ton of sense since Tim isn’t suggesting they should die…just stop being the only “customers” of a failed restaurant.
But the music of villainy is playing, so we know for sure that Tim is doing the wrong thing.
Hilariously, Time ends the scene with these two comments:
“Remember, survival of the fittest.”
Hmm, a veiled slap at the “evolutionists”? You decide!
“There is no room for the weak.”
Damn straight. ‘Cause mercy is for the weak.
Sweep the leg, Tim.
Tim then pulls out a photoshopped picture of himself and Belle in high school that he keeps in his desk, and stares at it.
Back at the Dinner Belle, Belle is staring at the same picture. Ooookay.
Out of all the buildings in New Britain, Wisconsin, Scrooge walks into the Dinner Belle. Petra waits on him, but not before making a snide comment to Matthew, who is still hanging out there, in a booth all by himself, sipping coffee and reading a newspaper. Because I guess he has nothing better to do.
So I don’t blame Petra one bit for making a comment. One way of looking at this: he has all-but-singlehandedly cost her a wage for the past FOUR MONTHS.
So Scrooge sits down, and instead of being shocked by, say, electric lights or women wearing pants, his attention is taken by…a ketchup bottle. (Ironically, ketchup is one of the few things in that diner that Scrooge might understand.)
Scrooge asks for “a spot of tea,” and then, again of all things, fixates on Petra’s accent (Hispanic).
And that’s pretty rich, considering the caliber of English accents we’ve heard so far.
He then asks for the date, which again is odd, because Scrooge has never time-travelled to any date other than December 24th or 25th. He finally gets around to asking the year, and Petra (quite reasonably) thinks he’s crazy and heads off to get his tea, pawning him off on Belle.
Belle, of course, takes a shine to Eb immediately, and they chat about Shakespeare. Why? Hell, I don’t know! But it’s going to become a theme. And I don’t mean they discuss the thematic elements of Shakespeare’s work—they just toss random lines back and forth, citing Act and Scene. Because that’s all that fans of Shakespeare can do, I guess.
Eb finally gets around to orienting himself to time and place, and when Belle tells him that it’s 2013, Scrooge suitably freaks out (as well he might, since it’s the first time he’s travelled more than one year into the future, and the first time he’s made it to “the colonies“). He mentions the spirits, and Belle assumes he’s been drinking (as well she might). He also mentions his firm, and Belle then assumes that this apparently drunk and disoriented man is Tim’s partner, sent by Tim to “spy on” and “harass” her. Which doesn’t really seem like something Tim would do, but okay.
Scrooge tosses a coin on the table to pay for the tea and heads out, but not before asking Matthew for directions to Scrooge and Cratchit.
Matthew asks, “Why?”
Um, because he wants to go there, you snide jerk! What, you need to vet his reasons before you give directions to a stranger?
There really aren’t words at this point to describe the depth of my hatred of Matthew. But he finally gives the directions, and Scrooge thanks him with more civility than Matthew deserves.
“You’re wellllll-come,” responds Matthew, with a weird waggle of his head, and I can’t decide if the snideness is intentional or not.
(The acting in this movie is all over the map. Tim and Petra are the only ones with any sense of comic timing…which isn’t a good sign when the movie is meant to be at least partly comedic. David Ruprecht (Scrooge) is a TV veteran, and does a perfectly fine job. Belle…eh, she’s very…overdone. And her style is totally at odds with Scrooge’s which makes their scenes together very jarring.)
Anyway, Scrooge gets lost almost immediately, which isn’t too surprising, since he’s understandably freaked out by all the cars. But he soon comes across a sarcastic bell-ringing Santa.
And he thinks he’s the Ghost of Christmas Present. This is quite natural and works pretty well. Especially since the Santa’s reaction is similar to Petra’s—he assumes the ranting guy is crazy, and shoves him into a cab to his destination. Thus Scrooge takes his first car ride.
(Yanno, thinking again of Time Changer, there is a big difference between 1844 and 1890. Russell Carlisle would have some understanding of cars and electric lights, Ebenezer Scrooge would not. Yet Eb, like Carlisle, is unfazed by the things that should faze him, like women walking around in pants, clean streets, and electric lights. The biggest shocks he’s had are the cars (good one there), and the fact that strangers refer to each other as “buddy.”)
Finally, we arrive at Scrooge and Cratchit Financial, and I guess we need more evidence that Tim is a money-grubbing jerk. He okays the annual gift to the local youth center…then raises their rent. We also see that his office is adorned with portraits of all the past generations of Cratchits…and of Scrooge.
As Tim and Ron talk business, Scrooge ceaselessly taps on Tim’s glass door, which seems very rude for a professional man like Ebenezer Scrooge. (Not infrequently, the direction is quite “off” with Scrooge, showing him like some kind of innocent, overeager child, instead of a mature businessman.)
But Ron eventually introduces him, and we have a title!
“Mr. Cratchit, a Mr. Scrooge to see you.”
Tim is immediately taken aback, because this Scrooge looks like his Scrooge:
Though his portrait doesn’t look a whole lot like typical portraits from the 1840s.
Eb and Tim have a talk, and Eb tries to convince Tim that he is actually a time-traveler, a theory Tim takes with more patience than I would have expected.
By way of “proof,” Eb says he was born on February 7, 1786. Now, February 7 is Charles Dickens’ birthday, and only a few versions that I’ve seen even give Scrooge a birthdate (written on his tombstone, natch). In A Christmas Carol: The Musical (a version I find all but unwatchable), Scrooge’s birthdate is February 23, 1795, and his death date is in October (????????) of 1850.
But anyway, back to Tim and Eb. Now, it’s not like I expect Ebenezer Scrooge to have any working knowledge of time travel paradoxes and the like (hey, he’s not Captain Picard!)…
WAIT A MINUTE
But it’s also kinda odd that he thinks anyone would believe him.
It also doesn’t help his cause that he immediately decides to backhandedly insult Tim:
*sees a portrait of Tiny Tim*
“Ah, Tiny Tim! Older, not quite so tiny, but I would recognize him anywhere. Your great, great, great grandfather. A remarkable person—a joy and a pleasure to be around. *long pause for discomfort* And you…his descendant. Who would have thought…”
But then something strange happens: Scrooge ruminates on his predicament, and says to Tim that he has…
“…resolved to make the best of it, for…
*loooong pause as he gazes at Tim*
Tim: So what does this have to do with me?
Scrooge: I fear, much.
OMIGOD, you guys, GET IT??? Scrooge is going to “Scrooge” Tim Cratchit! He’s going to use the past, present, and future to show him the error of his ways and fix the future!
Well, that’s what I thought was going to happen.
But it’s not. At all.
Bah, humbug, indeed.
So when the only reason Scrooge can give Tim for sticking around in the office is “Christmas,” Tim tosses him out. I’m trying hard to blame him, but I really can’t.
So Scrooge wanders the streets of New Britain, as a contemporary Christian song plays. The self-pitying little ditty is called “Say a Prayer for Me,” and it indeed implores the listener to pray for the singer when he is “all AY-lone and every friend has deserted me.”
As the singer continues to mournfully sing about how bad he has it, we see people who really do have it bad: Scrooge, lost in time and space, Tim, drowning his sorrows all alone in his office, and Belle, poring over her finances (okay, I don’t feel so sorry for her—she acts like she’s just now realizing she might just be in a bit of financial difficulty).
Scrooge ends up on a park bench, and he’s just settling in for the night when Matthew turns up!
Like a bad penny, this guy.
After initially being an asshole and trying to kick Scrooge off “his” bench, Matthew is actually nice for once: he gives Scrooge something hot from a thermos (not sure I want to know what it is) and they chat about Belle:
“Too bad about Belle’s diner, how she can’t make the mortgage payments and all.” [says Matthew]
Yeah, too bad how you and your “club” have claimed her business as your own personal shelter and free fridge, driving away anyone who might want to actually pay for food.
Scrooge agrees that it sucks, and then then they talk about Scrooge meeting Tim. In a cute moment, Scrooge says that Tim “reminds me of someone I used to know, someone I knew very well,” whose fate is “yet unresolved.”
It all ends with Matthew giving Scrooge a blanket and ominously saying “I’m here to serve. How about you?”
Next time: the rest of Scrooge’s night as a homeless person!