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TV Review: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong


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A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong entertains with its simple, yet amusing gags, which bring new life to an otherwise boring and overtold story. 

While a classic, A Christmas Carol is undeniably one of the darker and, at times, more depressing tales which is told at Christmas. That is why it is so refreshing to see this new spin on the story, which veers away from a dark and ominous tone, choosing instead to be simple and fun.

The Mischief Theatre Company successfully embrace the silly and light-hearted nature of the production, pushing the boundaries to see just how much can go wrong in less than an hour. 

Indeed, you will see a variety of disastrous events take place, including missing props, crew accidentally being caught on camera, characters falling through the floor, and Tiny Tim nearly dying from a falling coffin. You’ll even witness a robbery take place in a local supermarket. 

Of course, your taste in humour will greatly affect how you respond to this production. Those who enjoy good bad jokes, obvious disasters waiting to happen and the occasional cheap laugh will have a great time. Those looking for more upmarket comedy might need to look elsewhere. Thankfully, I am in the former category and was able to enjoy the show as a result. 

However, there are some keys flaws within the production, the most blatant and problematic being the Mischief Theatre Company’s reliance on the audience to have watched Peter Pan Goes Wrong. 

For those who have not seen Peter Pan Goes Wrong, an amateur theatre group called Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society (CPDS) put on a production of Peter Pan, which, unsurprisingly, goes very wrong. In fact, the production is such a disaster the CPDS is banned from ever entering the BBC studios again. Thus, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong opens with the CPDS illegally entering the BBC studios and forcibly removing the cast and crew in order to perform once more. 

This is amusing, if a little odd, to watch once you understand the background. However, new viewers are given no explanation as to why the CPDS is breaking into the BBC studios, and are left somewhat confused as a result. 

Thankfully, once this issue has been resolved, the production does go rather successfully - though the reliance on previous knowledge does continue, leaving fresh viewers a little lost at times. Ultimately, there is no denying that A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong fails to live up to its predecessor, and some fans will undoubtedly be left disappointed. 

While the production is still funny, the jokes are more obvious than in Peter Pan Goes Wrong. Moreover, the premise of the show seems flimsier, and the mistakes that are made seem less plausible, and thus are harder to forgive. This is largely due to the setting of the show, as Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a play, while A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong was specially written for television.

While it makes sense for things to go wrong and be harder to fix in a play, it seems less likely to happen on television. Additionally, the idea that nobody realised what CPDS were doing or stopped them earlier seems rather ludicrous. As such, it is fair to say that you will need to suspend common sense and realistic expectations when watching this production. However, once you do this, the show is a lot of fun.

Overall, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong is amusing, though it does fail to live up to expectations. The concept of a production which goes terribly wrong is good, as it is always more entertaining to see things fall apart, yet it seems wise to save such an idea for the stage.

Mistakes seem more plausible, and thus more entertaining in a play, while we expect more from a television studio. Additionally, we are more curious about what happens behind the scenes in a play, as it is a world we rarely see. This is likely why such productions are more successful on stage, and why they should be kept there.

A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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