Rankin/Bass has made so many Christmas specials in their time that it’s no surprise there may be some that have gone forgotten behind the Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeers of the Christmas specials.
The one I’m reviewing in this special video is one I’ve never heard of, based on a Charles Dickens’ Christmas tale I…also have never heard of. Yes, there is another one besides A Christmas Carol. Let me introduce you to A Cricket On The Hearth in another BW Video Review. Sorry the sound is bad. When I have money I hope to do something about that.
I should also note that this is the first video review done as a member of Reviewers Unknown. Written articles will still be my main focus but I kind of like what I can do with videos.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about the original novel:
John Peerybingle, a carrier, lives with his young wife Dot, their baby, their nanny Tilly Slowboy, and a mysterious old stranger with a long white beard. A cricket constantly chirps on the hearth and acts as a guardian angel to the family, at one point assuming a human voice to warn John that his suspicions that Dot is having an affair with the mysterious lodger are wrong.
The life of the Peerybingles frequently intersects with that of Caleb Plummer, a poor toymaker employed by the miser Mr. Tackleton. Caleb has a blind daughter Bertha, and a son Edward, who traveled to South America and was thought dead. The miser Tackleton is now on the eve of marrying Edward’s sweetheart, May, but she does not love Tackleton.
In the end, the mysterious lodger is revealed to be none other than Edward who has returned home in disguise. He marries May hours before she is scheduled to marry Tackleton. However Tackleton’s heart is melted by the Christmas season, like Ebenezer Scrooge, and he surrenders May to her true love.
You can see the differences from the Rankin/Bass version. In the book, the cricket (who may or may not have a name in the book) is on someone else’s hearth and they just interact with the Plummers. Bertha seems to already be blind according to the description and Edward is her brother. (Ewwww?) In the cartoon version, Edward isn’t related, the Peerybingles are gone, and May and Bertha seem to have been merged into one character. No mention of crows or hit monkeys.
As I said in the review, it’s not one of their strongest specials but it was good and worth watching if you get one of the collections the movie’s been attached to. A Merry Christmas to you all.