The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Dan Stevens Shines as ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

Review of "The Man Who Invented Christmas."
Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas (Bleeker Street)


Based on the book of the same name by Les Standiford, The Who Invented Christmas is based on the life of Charles Dickens during his time writing the iconic A Christmas Carol. The film opens with Dicken’s trip to America where his popularity is close to rock star status. However, when he comes home back to England, he’s faced with the realization that he hasn’t written a “hit” story in some time. In fact, his last three books have flopped and his publishers aren’t all that eager to give him another chance. Meanwhile, his wife Kate (Morfydd Clark) is busy remodeling their home, bills are starting to pile up and Charles begins to wonder if he’ll ever be able to write again. In a moment of inspiration during October of 1843, Dickens (Dan Stevens) decides to self-publish his next book, about Christmas and ghosts, but he’ll need to do so within six weeks and it will have to be a hit or he’ll be sunk. No problem though, he has a bunch of friends to help him. Unfortunately, none of them are real.

Throughout this movie, you have to wonder if Dickens had a mental illness, suffered from ADHD or just a lack of sleep. He is shown to be a nice guy with strong moral convictions. However, he is also shown having a short temper and wide-sweeping mood swings. He tells his friend, John Forster (Justin Edwards) that when he writes, his characters come alive and help him write his stories. Sometimes all he needs is to hear a phrase (“Humbug”) or a name (Scrooge) and the character appears. The first to come to Dickens aide is Ebenezer (Christopher Plummer). I can’t think of a better actor to do the job than Plummer. The two have the most interesting conversations and soon there is a pounding on the door and Scrooge tells him that it’s the ghost of Jacob Marley (Donald Sumpter).

Review of "The Man Who Invented Christmas."
Scrooge, Dickens and few of their friends. (Bleeker Street)
But the story comes along slower than Dickens was expecting. To add to the stress, Charles receives a visit from his father and mother (Jonathan Pryce and Ger Ryan). Through flashbacks, we learn that Dickens' dad was hardly “father of the year” as he was always in search of a quick way to make a buck, but he had a good heart. Unfortunately, due to his dad’s mistakes, Charles’s life when he was younger was a lot tougher than it needed to be. Turns out though, it also helped him to write his story.

Even though this movie features some whimsical touches with Dickens arguing with own characters, they don’t come across as goofy or slapstick. Overall, this is sort of a quiet film. There’s no car crashes or explosions. Nobody dies. It’s just a story about a writer doing what he does best and Stevens, who has a played a few characters himself in recent years (aka the “Beast” from Beauty and the Beast), does a fantastic job. As to be expected, this story comes with its own happy ending that is just as joyous as A Christmas Carol.

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