And now, for our second Christmas movie recap repeat of the season, please welcome our Ugly Betty recapper, DearCrabby, with A Carol Christmas!
You just know this is gonna be a quality film.
We open this insulin-o-rama with the camera on a sign that reads “The Carol Show,” with a picture of the awesome Tori Spelling. In a television studio decorated for Christmas, cute guy #1 walks around helping people carry boxes, wishing them a Merry Christmas, and basically establishing himself as Nice Guy. He tells someone “I have to go get Carol, wish me luck.” I wonder if Carol is a bitch? Hard to know this far in advance. Also established? The credits are done in the largest font ever printed. At least Hallmark knows their audience.
HELLO OLD PEOPLE! IT’S ME! TORI SPELLING! WELCOME TO MY TV MOVIE! I’M LIKE SCROOOOGE!!
We pan across a wall full of pictures of Carol Andy Warhol-ized (I’m guessing the same ones Tori had in her 90210 dressing room) and we hear William Shatner’s voice Dr. Phil-ing someone on TV about taking responsibility for what she’s done. Carol says, “That ought to shut her up!” Oh my God, I say the same thing when I watch Dr. Phil! Shatner, aka Dr. Bob, says to the audience, “Be careful about the choices you make – the man upstairs is keeping track. Make sure the good choices outweigh the bad choices, or you won’t be happy with what he has in store for you.” A vengeful God in a Hallmark movie? I’m in!
“Seems like an awful lot of clichÃ©s to me,” says Carol’s assistant Roberta. Oh honey, wait until you see the rest of this movie. Roberta is going over Carol’s Christmas shopping list, and asks what she wants to get the camera operators, since she got them soap last year. “Obviously they’ve gone through it, have you smelled them lately?” Carol snaps. If you attach it to a rope, they could wear it like a car air freshener. I’m just saying, you might want to spend the extra money this year.
Carol tells her assistant to finish the list herself while she reads the paper. She conveniently turns to the article “Good Guy of the Year Award” complete with a picture of said good guy shaking someone’s hand. Could that award title be more bland? And what if a woman wins? Is it “Good Gal of the Year Award”? Insulting! Good guy is revealed to be John Joyce, Meals-on-Wheels saint and former boyfriend of Carol. Carol says he never got over her after the breakup, and probably talks about her more than she talks about him. Common delusions could make Carol and I pretty good friends, I think. “Why he prefers smelly old homeless people to me I’ll never know.” Carol, let me buy you a latte!
Your mom called. She says that you weren’t authorized to take your bedroom set out of the mansion and she wants it before 5pm or she’s calling the police. Don’t shoot the messenger!
Roberta leaves, saying she will have to pick up her daughter Lily before she heads out shopping for Carol’s gift, and Carol and I both let out a “Pffft!” Have kids on your own damn time. Seriously, Carol and I must establish a coffee klatch for like-minded people. Roberta mentions spending that night – Christmas Eve with Lily. Wait, what? They are doing a live talk show on Christmas Eve? What talk show host doesn’t previously record? This crew has the worst union reps ever. Nix that, Tori Spelling has the worst representation ever. She’s in A Carol Christmas on the Hallmark Channel.
Nice Guy, aka Jimmy, tells Carol that they will have foster kids on the stage to give gifts to. Hope the boxes contain non-abusive foster parents, otherwise enjoy the gruel in the morning, kids. Carol bah-humbugs and says “Nobody did that for me when I was a kid.” Oooh, dramaaa! Was she a foster kid no one wanted, and that’s why she’s so bitter? I can’t wait to find out! Carol tells Jimmy she’ll be out when she feels like it, turns back to a picture of a woman sporting some hellishly big hair, and says, “Always keep them waiting, that’s what you taught me Aunt Marla.” Aunt Marla clearly never joined us in the 90s, as her 80s hair and beady eyes suggest someone who asks for money on Sunday morning, “for the Lord, I swear.” Carol says making them wait is the only way they’ll respect you. Yes, if “respect you” means blogging about you on bitchfacebosses.com.
Jimmy walks Carol out through the studio, briefing her about the show. Apparently someone named Morgan is a guest for the holiday show, a rival from another TV show when Carol was the star of The Tilly’s of Bel Air, aka Beverly Hills 90210. Morgan is going to discuss the charity she sponsors which she can do now with all the time she has since her show was canceled by Carol’s show’s success. There is also another special guest, Santa! But not any old Santa – it’s 500 pound almost-Wilford Brimley Santa, full-on with the wife-beater undershirt that shows his pasty white midriff, tattoos, suspenders, and a dusty film that makes me believe soap might just be the perfect gift for him this year. Carol is disgusted and I completely agree once again. Should I start to worry about our similarities? Crap.
It’s not just me and Tori, right? This guy’s hideous.
Carol refuses to interview Filmy Santa and a guy named Hal says “I am the executive producer of this show and I say you are.” Yeah, I bet that flies with Oprah too. She probably has people like that quietly killed. A pretty woman shows up on set and Carol says “Sis.” Do people really talk like that? Have you ever called a family member their family title compared to you, as opposed to their name? “Hey Cuz, come over her and meet boyfriend. Sis, can you ask Aunt to get me some coffee?” I should mention, however, that Sis is rocking a cool necklace, so I’m willing to let things go.
As Carol and Sis are walking through the halls, a crew member carrying so many Christmas decorations he is unable to see where he’s going, crashes into Carol. She releases a tirade I haven’t heard since the day our company ran out of coffee at the end of the fiscal year. “It would be a shame to have to go home and tell your family you lost your job on Christmas Eve, wouldn’t it?” Do-ragged crew member nods nervously. If this were Showtime, they’d be hooking up later.
Sis, whose name is Beth, gives Carol a gift and says “Those are from Lindsay & Tyler for their Aunt Carol.” Oh no, you know what that is code for: “My crappy kids made something heartfelt to get us out of getting you a good present and save us money.” Come on, we’ve all been there. Carol opens the first gift and it’s “a rock.” Actually, it’s a rock disguised as a paperweight. Creative little bugger. Maybe next year he’ll get her a snail disguised as those little sponge things you use to seal envelopes when you don’t want to lick them. Brat.
Tyler wrote “Merry Christmas to Aunt Carol” on the palm-sized rock. Lindsay has made a jewelry box with “Aunt Carol’s Jewelry Box” written on it. Yes, because 4- and 6-year olds write that small. Am I the only one that remembers the yellow paper with chunks of wood in it for first grade? Carol drops the items like they are pieces of dung. “It’s the thought that counts.” And the thought sucked. Please stop having children.
I’ve crapped better gifts than this.
Outside, Roberta and Lily are running around doing Carol’s Christmas shopping. Roberta says, “It’s Christmas Eve, honey.” Seems to me if she was a good assistant, she wouldn’t have waited until the day before Christmas to do her employer’s shopping. Lily complains about how her mother spends more time with Carol than with her own daughter. “It’s my job,” Roberta lamely responds. Hope they have insurance with therapy, because Lily’s going to need it.
Beth invites Carol to Christmas Eve dinner. On Christmas Eve. Seriously, I’m starting to see why Carol’s such a bitch. “The kids would love to see you.” Oh sure, there is nothing that a well-put-together aunt wants than for pre-schoolers touching her Prada ensemble with their sticky, boogery fingers. “Carol,” Beth laments, “Mom and Dad aren’t with us anymore. We’re the only family we have left, and Christmas is a time for families.” And last minute invites, apparently. “I lost my family a long time ago,” Carol snots. I am loving this intrigue, but how bad can a family be on the Hallmark channel?
Roberta promises Lily ice cream for running all over town, because what better way to show someone you love them than by teaching them to medicate their feelings of inadequacy through sugar and fat? Carol calls Roberta and asks her to pick up gifts for her crafty niece and nephew – under $20. Again, timing. When does she plan to get all the gifts to people? It’s Christmas Eve! Roberta sucks and should be fired along with do-rag guy.
Ghost of Lily Future
We cut to Carol throwing a bunch of clothes on the floor yelling “No! No! No!” like I do every morning before work. “Are these all of my choices?” Jimmy, behind her, says “I thought they were nice,” like when a boyfriend gets you tickets to a monster truck rally and you’re dressed for cocktails. Carol says, “Nice is for housewives and grade-school teachers. I want to look fabulous.” Suddenly I realize that yes, Carol is my doppelganger. Except for the beady eyes. And the man jaw. Carol wisely chooses a lichen green ribbed knit for the show.
With all this bitching and moaning, Carol is exhausted. She goes to take a nap and gets mowed down once again by do-rag, now with a ton of boxes. Why does this guy walk around blind? Carol’s staff ain’t the brightest. Carol screams that if she sees him one more time that day, he’s fired. Dude, go home sick.
Jimmy walks by and sees Roberta’s daughter sitting in a chair eating Christmas cookies. “That’s a lot of cookies,” he says, which I believe is an opening line for an after school special called The Bad Man Next Door. Don’t talk to strangers, Lily! Except apparently Jimmy isn’t a stranger…he and Roberta make goo-goo eyes at each other and trash on Carol. Finally, some work rage. Jimmy says that after the show, he will take them to the Christmas tree lot and buy the biggest tree they have left. Nice qualifier, there Jimmy. It’s CHRISTMAS EVE! The biggest tree “left” will make Charlie Brown’s tree look like the Rockefeller Center tree. Roberta says, “We will buy a tree we can afford.” Jimmy says “Well, I can still buy you presents to put under the tree.” Jimmy, if you haven’t gotten them by now, I hope Lily and Roberta enjoy Slim Jims and condoms. Just don’t confuse who gets what.
Merry Christmas, little girl! Your mommy told me to come pick you up from school!
Carol is “resting her eyes” when Roberta knocks on her door. “Are you alone?” she complains. “I didn’t realize it was ‘Bring your Tiny Tim to Work’ day.” Once again, I’m on Carol’s side. People, no kids at the workplace, in nice restaurants, in stores or heck, in public. Those little monsters belong inside. With tape over their mouths. And a Windex bottle in their hands. “Her being here stops you from giving me undivided attention.” Roberta apologizes and gives Carol her tea, I’m guessing with a huge lugey drifting to the bottom of it, and says she’ll begin wrapping the gifts. Carol wants it done after the show, and tells her to spend Christmas Eve delivering her gifts with Lily. Awesome boss. Now Carol needs her nap.
When Carol wakes up and sees smoke, she thinks the studio is on fire and immediately goes into the hall to berate people for not waking her up. She should be investigating who set it and left her there. A ghostly voice says “Carol Cartmaaaannnnn….Carol Cartmaaaannnn,” and suddenly Carol’s dressing room door busts open and we see smoke, big hair, big shoulder pads on a green and black mini-skirt suit. Oh my God, Pat Benatar is the Ghost of Christmas Past! No, wait, it’s Aunt Marla. And she’s just the opening act to the rest of the ghosts.
“I’m here to help you,” she says, explaining that she is doomed to wander the earth like this because of all the ill will she spread. Christ, that hair would be enough to scare me straight. She apologizes for pushing Carol so hard and tells her to redeem herself by being nice. Oh, that recommendation should work. “You’ll be visited by three spirits, the first one at midnight.” Carol walks over to her clock and unplugs it. Yes, because unplugging clocks stops time. “What did Roberta put in that tea,” she wonders. It wasn’t Splenda. She goes back to sleep.
Get out of my dressing room, Mercedes Ruehl!
She awakes to Jingle Bells coming from the radio she unplugged. “I’ve always loved that song” says an off-screen voice, and when she turns around, it’s Gary Coleman as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Or careers past, as the case may be. “You’re the guy that used to have that TV show when you were a little kid.” Oh man, wouldn’t that be awesome if Dana Plato and Todd Bridges rounded out the three ghosts? Although I guess Dana should’ve been the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Little Pete,” Gary answers. “But there’s not much work for a middle-aged actor who’s even too small to be a jockey.” When did this become a documentary? Gary wants to talk to Carol, who tries the “too busy” line more than likely because she’s freaked Gary Coleman is in her dressing room, and she doesn’t know a more polite way to get away from him, much like most of Hollywood. Suddenly he vaporizes and reappears close to the ceiling with his hands up in the air like he’s on an episode of COPS, and in a 1950s sci-fi voice says “TOO BUSY TO SAVE YOUR SOUL FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION?!” followed by a clap of thunder. Thanks, Klaatu, that was awesome! However, saving one’s soul from eternal damnation is a long-term goal, like a complete rebranding. That takes a lot of time and effort, and Carol is an extremely busy woman.
“Take my hand to go back to your past,” Gary says. I wonder if we’ll go back to the time when she was still in Aaron’s will? Oh, and a brunette. That’s pretty far back. And boom, we’re at a holiday play where kids are being set up on stage in a Nativity scene. This better be a Catholic school, or I’m calling the ACLU.
Feels real to me.
“That’s Granny Greshwolk, my 3rd grade teacher.” Yes, I’m sure she appreciated being called “Granny.” Carol is dressed as a wise, uh, person, when Aunt Marla comes busting in with a “Sorry I’m late!” She calls Carol over and is horrified to discover she’s holding Myrrh – she should be holding the gold instead! “This is an insult.” To the Myrrh? Do you think the original wise man felt the same way, like he got the shaft because he had to hold Myrrh? After a few seconds with Aunt Marla, Granny folds like a chair and switches the kids around. Virgin Mary is now a wise person, and Carol is the Virgin Mary. Gotta admit, Aunt Marla earns her keep. The little girl begins to cry. “What is she so upset about?” Carol asks. “I was twice the Virgin Mary she could’ve been.” Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I said that.
It turns out the former Virgin Mary’s mother had died the year before and Granny was trying to give her a prominent role to raise her spirits. She waited a year to try to make her feel better? Nothing like picking at a scab, Granny. And way to read kids: next time, try an Xbox. Or poison.
Aunt Marla wants to run over lines with Carol that afternoon, but Carol whines she about wanting to go to a Christmas party. Aunt Marla tells her “Your parents said if you don’t get the lead in the school play this year, they were going to discontinue your acting lessons.” Jerks! Carol never had a chance. “They think it’s a waste of money to let you pursue your dreams.” Whoa – therapy flashback! Although I’m guessing Aunt Marla is lying.
Carol tells Gary she got a standing ovation the night of the play, but as someone who has had to sit through elementary school assemblies, my guess is it wasn’t an ovation but a mad-rush for the exit and the nearest bar. Turns out, Carol’s parents didn’t come to the play because they were working to provide her with what she wanted. Gary says they sacrificed their own lives for her, so she could spend more time with her Aunt Marla. Secretly, I think they didn’t really like her much either.
And can you blame them? She looks like a gargoyle.
Carol and Gary are now seated in the Knollwood Community Playhouse where she had her first professional acting job. She is onstage when she first locks eyes with John Joyce, the homeless shelter/former Baywatch actor – nothing like a yummy combo of social awareness and abs. Apparently the theater was donating old costumes to the homeless shelter, which, what?! What community theater is in a financial position to donate costumes? Don’t they need everything they can get? And what city wants their homeless dressed as characters from The King & I? Although I guess they would be more festive and less depressing as people averted their eyes and walked by quickly. John asked Carol out that day, “and many days afterwards.” I pause the DVR to barf.
Yes! Finally! Musical Montage of Falling in Love! Saves having to actually write the development of a relationship! We see Carol and John smiling and eating and walking and roller-skating and Carol eating off John’s fork! Not a euphemism! We see them hiking, working at the food bank where John is collecting Pringles…really? Who goes through their pantry and gives those up? Giggling! Kissing! Hugging! Swaying! And….music out, picnic scene up.
Carol gushes that she’s always been told what to do, but John actually asks her what she wants, and it’s a nice change of pace. He reaches in his back pocket and pulls out a ring box, just as Carol begins to back up. Oh, sorry, that’s just her beeper going off. It reminds her to get to the theater. And that her customers need to buy meth. Try wearing a watch and pay attention to it. She asks if he can wait until after the show, and the party following it to talk to her. Dejected, he agrees. Present-day Carol says “I didn’t know.” Wah-wah-wahhh.
We have the exact same chin. I think I love you.
When Carol gets to the theater, Aunt Marla is all up in her business and cryptically says “I can’t tell you why, but tonight you have to not only be good, but great.” No pressure, but I’m pretty sure there’s an agent in the audience. Hope Carol cracked that code too. Carol runs off to get ready, and Aunt Marla saddles up to John to tell him this thing with Carol isn’t going to work out. He’s “nothing more than a brief stop on their way to the top.” Ouch. Hope Aunt Marla doesn’t end up homeless, or she’ll never get a costume!
After the show, Carol asks John what he was going to ask her when once again, Aunt Marla flares up again. I wonder if Herpecin would work on her? She tells Carol that an agent saw her and wants to have drinks with her, fluffing open Carol’s shirt and telling her to get going. Carol apologizes to John and is off to the casting couch. Present-day Carol says she left because it was her future. Gary says “Maybe what John was going to ask you was your future.” Yes, leave it to Hallmark to espouse becoming a spouse (get it?) over a career.
Gary and Carol are now on the set of her TV show, The Tilly’s of Bel Air 90210. People are standing around waiting for Carol. She didn’t enjoy making people wait, but Aunt Marla said making people wait was the best way to make them respect you. John shows up all nice, greeting everyone on the set because he has a soul. A director knock’s on Carol’s trailer door to see if she is ready, and gets an earful from Aunt Marla. Wouldn’t someone have killed her by now? The director stalks off as John gets to the door. He has just gotten some money from the city for his shelter, and wants to go out that evening to celebrate. Unfortunately, Carol has an interview after the show, a screening to attend, her country’s 500th anniversary to plan, her wedding to arrange, her wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; she’s swamped!
John kicks Aunt Marla out so he and Carol can speak privately. He gives her the “you’re not the same person” speech we all give when we want to get the hell out of relationship and subtly blame the other person. Carol says it’s because she’s a star and he’s just jealous. “At least I’m not living in a dream world thinking I could make a difference!” Carol says. Ouch. And? True. The world of TV does make a difference!
Present Carol says “If he loved me enough he wouldn’t have left.”
“POW!” Gary says weirdly (was it the timing? The fact he put no heart in it?)
“What was that?”
“Me, bursting your bubble,” he says. Uh. Okay. Effective.
Executive Producer Hal is waiting in a limo when Aunt Marla jumps in. The Tilly’s have been cancelled and Carol is beginning a new talk show. Hal and Aunt Marla plan to let her have a nice talk show initially, then “ease her into what really sells: Freaks.” Somewhere Jerry Springer just flinched. Aunt Marla is made a producer and says “This is what I’ve been working for since she was a kid.” Carol is surprised. “Marla was only looking out for herself.” You know, raising a kid to be a star seems like an awful lot of work to become a producer.
Aunt Marla’s Funeral – FINALLY. Hope it was a bus. And bloody. Unfortunately, they don’t tell us, but the casket is closed so I’m guessing it was messy. Five people are there, which I gather is a good turnout. Hal tells Carol they are going to keep the show going the way her aunt wanted it to, and Present Carol yells “Phony!” Gary responds sarcastically, “Imagine someone in show business that turns out to be phony.” Oh Hallmark, how you know Hollywood. Carol, tired of this scene, yells “Take me back!” Or was that me?
Present Carol jolts awake. “What a dream. No more green tea. Ever.” Me either. It makes your pee smell like broccoli. She wakes to the television showing Dr. Bob dressed as Santa, wishing people a Merry Christmas. “Tell them what they need to hear, Dr. Bob,” she says as she drifts off. But not so quickly! Dr. Bob, aka William Shatner, aka Mr. Priceline, aka Captain Kirk aka Denny Crane is there to show her around as the Ghost of Christmas Present! He’d be an awesome Christmas present!
I hope you won’t be offended if I leave you wrapped.
Captain Kirk tells her it is hard to see things as they really are, and clichÃ©s “You’ve got to face the music young lady. You made your bed, now you gotta sleep in it. Time to get out of your own way. (Pause) Do I always speak in clichÃ©s like that?” Oh crap, now he’s taking my job away. Captain Kirk wants to show her some things, but he doesn’t want her taking his hand. He’s a germaphobe, and if Tori Spelling has one thing, it’s cooties. She takes one of his suspenders and he beams her into the next scene. Okay, that was totally excellent that they used Enterprise technology for this. I guess not everyone on the Hallmark writing team is a Christmas-sweater wearing PTA member. Some are nerdy virgins living in their parents’ basements. Well done!
They “land” outside of Roberta’s house, and apparently she lives in South Central LA. Who the hell puts up Christmas lights on barred windows and doors? Captain Kirk says “You know there are cockroaches in there. And rats.” Hopefully no tribbles, though, Kirk. And if you get that, you are a nerdy virgin living in your parents’ basement. And I’ve probably dated you.
Inside, Lily and Roberta are decorating the smallest Christmas tree ever in the history of the world. “It’s tradition,” Roberta says. No, it’s what you get when you shop for a tree on Christmas Eve night, moron. You’re lucky it still has needles. Jimmy is there, wrapping gifts. Long way to go to get laid, buddy. Doesn’t he have a family? The three of them are all happy-lovey-dovey and Carol kvetches “How could they be so happy? They have nothing.” Captain Kirk points out that they have each other, and Roberta is determined to earn her own way…if only someone paid her what she is really worth. Hmm, a late Christmas present buyin’, bring your brat to workin’, mousy assistant to a trashy talk show host. You deserve at least six figures.
There’s a knock at the door, and they all think it’s Santa, but I’m guessing it’s either the Sharks or the Jets. Roberta blindly opens the door, which you only do with a .357 in your hand in that neighborhood. How does she not have a peephole or 50 locks on the door? Apparently she does get paid what she’s worth. Music of doom plays as she says, “Frank.” Uh-oh. Baby daddy alert. Get them on The Carol Show now!
Why do deadbeat dads have to be so damn hot?
Deadbeat dad walks in with a present for Lily and gives her the whole Merry Christmas/here’s your gift/sorry I’m in arrears holiday wish. Jimmy suggests he takes Lily next door for the neighbor’s famous hot chocolate. Yes, I’m sure she’ll enjoy you barging into her holiday celebrations unannounced on Christmas Eve. It’s probably a crack house anyway.
Fight! Fight! Frank wants to spend Christmas with his family. “And what family is that?” says Roberta. “The one you left before Lily was even born?” Oh, man, what a douche! He says he’s changed, now, and has gotten married, but his wife can’t have kids. Could they have Lily? And, P.S., he’s not waiting for your answer; he’s suing for custody of Lily. Seriously? On Christmas Eve? Doesn’t sound like he’s changed at all. “Look at this place,” he says, “is this any way to bring up a child?” No, dumbass, leaving the kid before she’s even born and ignoring her until your barren wife needs her is a much, much better way to bring her up. Frank, this is what NO ALIMONY OR CHILD SUPPORT BUYS IN L.A. He leaves Roberta with the paperwork. Maybe she can wrap a present in it? That she bought at the 99 cent store? With a WIC card?
Now we’re at sister Beth’s house. Beth’s kids are trying to sweetly con their dad into letting them open all of their gifts and a giggling-wrestling match ensues. Aw, shucks, folks. Carol scoffs at their small house, worrying about their kids, all of their bills. I scoff at Beth’s taste in decorating (golden cherubs?). Beth enters the scene and joins in the wrestling. Shucks again.
The kids are allowed to open one gift and they choose Aunt Carol’s. My guess is to get the worst gift out of the way now so they don’t get disappointed tomorrow morning. They know her presents aren’t great, but that she’s pretty busy. “And if she can take the time to go out and get us something, we should appreciate it.” Yes, that is exactly how six year olds talk, good one Lindsay. “Did Aunt Carol like the presents we made her?” Uh oh, time for some careful footwork here. “Yes,” says Beth, but stifles the rest of the sentence, “until she chucked them out the window into the garbage.” The kids get some kind of doll and a racecar. Roberta apparently used the money she doesn’t have to make Aunt Carol look good. Methinks Roberta is writing a tell-all book and is just collecting more and more fodder.
Beth and her family sit on the couch to read A Christmas Carol. Get it? However, they are on like page 10 or something. Does everyone in this movie wait until December 24th to start Christmas? Carol says “I can’t watch this anymore. It’s too painful.” Truer words were never spoken Carol. Time for martinis.
And then Tori’s evil mother disinherited her, forcing her to take any sad sack job that came along and have a big garage sale….and to all a good night.
Now to the Open Arms Homeless Shelter. Are they ever named things like “Series of Bad Decisions Homeless Shelter” or “Lazy Bastard Homeless Shelter” (the views expressed in this recap are not necessarily the views of the staff or families of TVgasm.com unless they are Republican)? John is wearing a Santa hat, although a hairnet would probably be better given all the food they are cooking. For the first time, Carol admits she could have made some different choices along the way (yeah, like not pissing off Aaron Spelling before he died), but you can’t argue with the end result. Oh, I think we can argue with Tori and Dean: Inn Love.
Captain Kirk beams Carol out of the shelter and to…a tractor graveyard? The Mexican border? Roswell? Well, it’s the middle of nowhere, and Carol has to get back on her own. Captain Kirk says “See for yourself what you’ve become” and disappears. He’s replaced by the Ghost of Christmas Future, a scary limo driver who looks like the guy from Babe. Scary, silent limo driver points Carol to the door of a Hummer limo (not very green of you, Hallmark). Carol gets in and nervously chats it up with the driver, going back and forth about the difference between “ghost” and “spirit” and which one sounds better. Worst small talk ever. We see him look at her and push the button to raise the divider between the two of them. I wish I had one of those right now. There is an electrical storm in the limo, the door opens, and Carol finds herself back at the studio.
Creepy silent driver stalks her to the studio door and I worry this is about to become Forensic Files. Luckily, he turns them to dust and they appear sitting in her studio audience. The show is all Maury’d up and Carol looks like a total Christmas tart with bubblegum pink lipstick, a mini-skirted suit, and major bedhead. Sort of like “Barbie Chooses a Career” doll. This is their holiday show, where people want to tell their families something special: I hate you. Do you really need a show around the holidays to do that? My family just uses Kentucky Bourbon. Jimmy looks sick.
Hal comes over to brief Carol on the next guest, someone who about to tell her parents she hates them because they abandoned her. But Carol gets a conscience, which must be hard in that tight skirt, and says she can’t do a show like that because of how hard it must be for people to hear horrible things like this. He says she’ll do the show or he’ll sue her, but she leaves anyway (and isn’t it really her call on how the show should go?). Jimmy follows as she walks off the set, and just so we know he’s fed up too, he tosses his headset off.
Aw, don’t cry! There’s always the Hallmark Channel. Er….sorry. Go ahead and cry.
She tells Limo Ghost she wants to go, and they end up in a parking lot where a dusty, dirty, back-firing Caddy is being pulled into a handicapped spot. Who gets out? 80 year old Carol with 30 year old legs. Nice. Oh, wait. She’s wearing Ugg boots. Wow, she really has hit rock bottom.
Grandma Carol teeters over to an open aread, passing a sign that says “Today Only – Former TV Star Carol Cartman.” Ha! Do event signs ever say “Former”? Usually PR people are smart enough to drop that from the event titles.
“Former?” Carol balks. It’s the grand opening of a retirement community, and Grandma Carol is cutting the ribbon. There are 10 people there, so at least she’s doubled Aunt Marla’s funeral attendance. Carol says “Could be worse – personal appearances bring in a lot of money.” A woman at the grand opening hands Carol a sign that says “Retirement Community” on one side and “Now Renting” on the other, and points Carol towards the corner she’ll be working. Wow. Carol should really consider investing her talk show money better.
God, now she’s hosting Crowned. With the pain never end?
Back at the church where Aunt Marla’s funeral was held are two people sitting in the pews for Carol’s funeral – Roberta (yeah right) and Jimmy. They banter about Carol and how differently things could have been for her. Jimmy asks about Lily (shouldn’t they do this at the wake over chicken?) and Roberta says, “She’s okay. I guess.” Uh-oh. Sounds like Roberta hired the Lionel Hutz of custody lawyers.
Roberta says that Lily never forgave her for all the time she spent with Carol and not with her. Then she lost custody of Lily. Double whammy. “I thought there’d be more people here,” she says. “Really?” Jimmy asks. “No,” she answers too quickly. Seriously, who paid for the funeral? Or more importantly, who knew she was dead? Someone probably just smelled something bad and realized the neighborhood cats were getting fat before they realized she was dead.
Carol freaks out and Limo Ghost walks towards her, backing her up towards the casket. This guy is totally freaking me out. She promises to change and to hold Christmas in her heart all year long, oh please, Carol. All year? Better make that Hanukkah too, you do work in show business. Throw in a few shout outs to Xenu too, for good measure. She swears she’ll change as the casket opens and she’s suddenly inside of it, which makes me all claustrophobic. The lid comes down on her as she screams and I breathe into a paper bag. You know, it’s not always about Carol. Now excuse me as I make my cremation arrangements.â€¨
That’ll do, Pig.
â€¨Carol once again awakens in her dressing room. It’s dark, and there’s a knock from Jimmy telling her they go live in 45 minutes. Seriously, did they just blow off the dress rehearsal? They are so fired! She opens the door and Jimmy asks if she’s ready. She says “I’ll be right there so no one has to wait.” Then she weirdly says she knows he wants to help out Roberta, but not to worry about her. “It’s all going to be okay,” she says, then asks to see Roberta. Turning back to her aunt’s picture, she says, “They did it Aunt Marla!” Yeah, let’s see if this holds over the course of the year before declaring victory.
Roberta knocks on the door and Carol acts all old-Carol and calls her into the dressing room. She demands to know how much was spent on her niece’s and nephew’s gifts. Roberta said not to worry, she picked up the difference. Carol gets all smiley and says, “Thank you for making me look like a great aunt!” and hugs Roberta. Roberta throws up a little in her mouth. Seriously? No more green tea. Then she gives Roberta a shiny new silver dollar and tells her to buy the largest goose in the window.
No, wait, she tells Roberta she’s ashamed at what she pays her, and offers to double – no triple! – her salary. She then offers Roberta the rental place she has in the Valley free of charge (is the Valley really a step up? It’s probably a hellish commute too, but at least she’s trying). She then gives Roberta cash to buy the biggest Christmas tree she can find SERIOUSLY IT IS CHRISTMAS EVE THEY ARE ALL GONE! “And get Lily something nice from her Aunt Carol.” The last thing she does is give her the name of a good lawyer, and promises to pay for “whatever comes up.” She should offer to pay for a good hit man is what I’m thinking.
Do-rag guy shows up and Carol wants him to take all the toys back to the stage and double what they are giving the foster kids this year. Plus, he gets a Christmas bonus! He sings “Joy to the World” as he walks off, and we cut to Carol getting her hair and makeup done next to Morgan, her charitable guest. “One of the things that has truly brought me happiness” is her charity work, Morgan says. Don’t out-of-work actors always have to say stuff like that when they are doing PR disguised as charity? Carol says she’s looking forward to volunteering more herself. Did she have a change of heart, or a change of meds?
Woah. I’ve never looked you in the eye before. Aren’t you that Spelling guy’s son?
Fat Santa is out. Carol is in a Christmas sweater and very tight black pants. Foster kids running amok on the set. Carol admits to not wanting to do a Christmas Eve show (neither did your staff!), but she’s glad she did. She thanks her “wonderful, wonderful crew,” and says the next break they get, she’s taking all of them and their families to Hawaii on vacation. Way to hurt the foster kids with the family vacation talk, Carol, they have neither! And nothing says a relaxing vacation than one with co-workers. Wonder if they can trade it for cash?
She then says that companies have been hounding her to put her names on all sorts of products. I’m guessing Guthy-Renker is on line one. Originally Carol refused, but now not only is she going to put her name on all kinds of crap like beauty products and kitchen items (Wal-Mart on line 2), she plans to give all of the profits to homeless shelters (Wal-Mart hangs up) that her good friend John Joyce opened in the city. “Have a wonderful Christmas, and be nice to each other.”
Jimmy, Roberta, and Lily all hug her. Seriously, if I had a boss that was that bi-polar, I’d be careful about close contact. No one seems to think her major change of personality is strange. And speaking of strange, Hal has miraculously come around as well (green tea with a lugey?) and says “You keep doing shows like this, you’ll be on for a long, long time.” Yes, because if there is one thing American viewers have proved is our love for TV shows that show the positive aspects of life. Clearly Hal is updating his resume and calling Montel. Lily asks if Carol can come over tonight, and Roberta’s face has the same “Oh, Christ almighty no,” my face gets when people ask to bring their kids over to my house, but she is saved when Carol says she has somewhere else to be.
Back at Beth’s House of Tragic Decorations (golden cherubs, people! Two of them!) we are dÃ©jÃ vu-ing the conversation from the previous trip here. Lindsay and Tyler are trying to get their dad to let them open all of their gifts, however this time we are saved from their wrestling by the doorbell. It’s Carol! They seem excited to see her. I guess these kids are good actors. She gives them new presents and fesses up that her assistant bought the other ones. Note to readers: Kids don’t care where presents come from, as long as they get a ton of them. Then she lies about liking the presents the kids made for her. Baby steps, Carol, we understand.
The doorbell rings again and it’s Good Guy Award winner John! Shirking his responsibilities at the homeless shelter to come by for his big check. He saw Carol’s show (would he really be watching that show after 1-their history and 2-while he was making food all day?) and had stopped by the studio but she had already left. Did they know where she was? Have you tried HER house? Or calling her instead of driving all over L.A. looking for her like she’s a feral cat? Carol comes into the hallway to see John, and Beth and her husband excuse themselves after offering John dinner that evening. Carol says, “We can have dinner and still get back in time to help out.”
“We?” John asks.
“We,” Carol responds. Blech.
Outside on the swings, John admits he never misses her show. Oh, please. She says that a few friends made her realize she hasn’t been a very nice person. And by “friends” she means “hallucinogenic green tea.” They kiss and Hallmark actually shows tongue! Back inside, all of them are sitting somewhat uncomfortably on the sofa (4 adults and 2 kids on an average sofa?) as they finish A Christmas Carol. That is one big book, I’m guessing they forced the kids to stay up until 4am to get through it. They let Carol complete the last line, “God bless us, every one.”
You taste like 1991.
Wait. Where’s the tragic Carol family scene? What about her sad, sad past they kept hinting at? They certainly made it seem like there were some skeletons there. Damn you Hallmark. You robbed us!
The three ghosts are watching her from outside – Gary, Captain Kirk, and Scary Limo. “Maybe Carol will make the world a better place for other people,” Captain Kirk says. “Amen to that,” says Gary. Inside, they all begin to sing “Joy to the World,” except for John who apparently doesn’t know anything past the phrase “Joy to the World.” Wouldn’t it have been cool if Frank has showed up requesting Beth’s son, to fill out his nuclear family? Wait – maybe he should stop by the studio and shop for a foster kid. There’s your happy ending, people.
And finally, the huge credits roll: Produced by Larry Levinson and Robert Halmi Jr.
Happy Hanukkah, boys.