After not having filmed an original Christmas episode since '64, the Scrooges at Screen Gems have pulled out the old tried and true variation on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." While maybe not the most original of all plots, this episode certainly delivers in the categories of warmth and coziness despite a somewhat testy Santa (Don Beddoe) who likes to give out baby dolls that turn black and blue when you hit 'em.

Since the whole Ebenezer Scrooge plot device is so well known and so predictable, the highlights of this yuletide tale are really found in the special moments between Darrin and Sam doing simple family holiday things: deciding where to put the tree, decorating the tree (even if waiting until Christmas EVE to do it!!!), opening presents with Tabitha and sharing egg nog and fruitcake.

Highlights include a beautiful shot of Sam riding her broom in the snow with the moon behind her; Darrin playfully dumping a load of tinsel on a tree branch after Sam warns him to place them "one at a time"; Tabitha exclaiming "Daddy!" at Darrin dressed as Santa; and a personal favorite moment at the very end as Sam smiles back at Mortimer without any dialogue ... the camera holds just a little bit longer on that famous Montgomery smile, a smile so fascinatingly genuine that it's guaranteed to warm the chill on any cold winter's day.

Now if we could just get Santa to stop giving out "Whack-Me-Wendy," "Hit-Me-Hannah," "Beat-Me-Betty," and "Susie-Bruisie" as gifts!

OOPS!: In the opening, Sam clearly aims to pop the tree to the wall at the FRONT side of the living room but the next shot shows it appearing in the BACK by the French doors.

REWIND: Towards the end when the gang go to cut fruitcake and have eggnog, listen to the ad-libs. Darrin says, "Not any at all, Larry!" and Larry says "Oh, my!" This EXACT sound bite is repeated again as background ad-lib after Mortimer sees the doll and says, "Why do I know that?"

© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS

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