Synopsis: In “The Ghost of Christmas” Mike (Kiell Smyth-Bynoe) has invited his family to Button House. Like many families, he finds them overbearing. Robin (Laurence Rickard) can’t get into the spirit of things. Kitty (Lolly Adefope) is excited, more so than usual. Julian (Simon Farnaby) ends up reminiscing about Christmas when he was alive. Though they’re dead, Christmas is still Christmas . . .
“The Ghost of Christmas” presumably takes place the year ending that series two did. To catch up, you can read our review of season two. Things kick off with us seeing Julian (Simon Farnaby), back when he was alive. Though it’s not specified, it’s obvious it’s the late 1980s/early 1990s. Great to see how the years have made him regret his reprehensible behaviour. Especially give that he can’t change it now. His gradual change of heart towards Mike’s sister’s baby, Nancy, is heartwarming. A lovely bit of Christmas magic, to enjoy.
Mike’s family scenario is the central plot of “The Ghost of Christmas”. What’s good is that it’s relatable. Simple writing. The humour works because most people have been through something similar. And do so every year. And there’s also the aspect of Mike’s family filling in Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) about how he’s always been the family grump. Again, great observational humour, well written.
As for “the ghosts”, Pat (Jim Howick) remembers his own less than perfect family Christmases. Robin (Laurence Rickard) is jaded, after so many. That’s understandable. And a novel way of doing the “Bah, humbug” concept. And the Captain (Ben Willbond) and Thomas (Mathew Baynton) playing Twister was a hilarious scene. That Thomas (Mathew Bay) continues his unrequited love story arc is good continuity. What’s more, it’s weaved in to coincide with the festivities. Once again, simple but very effective writing.
The episode belongs to Simon Farnaby’s Julian. A somewhat reluctant and grudging redemption arc. Given that the character’s meant to be disliked, you end up really feeling for him. Great acting work is what makes that possible. Not easy to develop a character that is defined by arrogance. And a tendency to never acknowledge any wrongdoing. Farnaby achieves it by his commanding performance.
As always, the cast are great at what they do. Mary (Katy Wix) encapsulates this idea well, in her scenes. She knows her character so well. That shows. The interactions between “the ghosts” really makes the dynamic of show. For example those with Fanny (Martha Howe-Douglas). So too does Fanny (Martha Howe-Douglas) work so well with Alison (Charlotte Ritchie), to create vital chemistry.
CGI & Effects
Timing the ghosts appearances is a crucial consideration. Without getting that right the show’s central premise doesn’t really work. Whilst that may be easy, with only clever editing needed, it’s still noteworthy. And worthwhile praising. You really don’t need a mega budget show, if you’ve got a good creative team. Again, Ghosts proves that excellently with its bang on the money blended visuals.
A fine outing for this fun show. For several reasons. Firstly, it’s kept its tried and tested formula. The circular structure to the story was a very strong idea. One pulled off excellently. Julian, chanting “family, family, family” meant two very different things at the start, compare do the end of the story. A fine little tale of redemption. Really good comedy can also have a serious message. “The Ghost of Christmas” is an example of this done, perfectly. That message was even more poignant given the time of year, too. A great job done.
Robin commenting on how Christmas is only really a hotchpotch of multiple ancient festivals also had resonance. Despite him having so little faith in it all, he finally does see everything for what it can be: what we choose to make it. Ultimately, the episode was funny and heartwarming. It showed the importance of spending it with those we love. Additionally, it showed the pain of loss, too. And as things are right now, that gave the heartstrings a real tug. But the balance of comedy meant it wasn’t felt too seriously. Just enough.
- CGI & Action9.4