Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)
Blackadder, if you've missed it, was comprised of four short seasons, several specials and a movie, set through various times in British history. (Actors often play similarly named characters in different time periods, ostensibly relations/descendants of previous characters.) In most of the series (the first season was a bit different) the protagonist Blackadder is cunning, self-serving and highly intelligent, and is always either trying to get ahead in society, or trying to evade responsibility and danger.
At the beginning of Blackadder's Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder is the “kindest and loveliest man” in London. That doesn't exactly last.
I have seen this over and over, and I still laugh out loud. That's the mark of great comedy for me.
The first half is great because it's so odd to see Blackadder being nice. His dialogue is still witty, and isn't that different from normal, but it's shifted in tone to soft and apologetic.
His constant servant, Baldrick, is by his side, and is more perceptive than usual, perhaps to balance out Blackadder's overly rose-colored worldview.
Baldrick: It'd be a lot more [profits] if you didn't give away so much money to the poor.
Ebenezer: Well, yes, but in the feeling-good ledger of life we are rich indeed.
Baldrick: Yeah, I just wish we weren't doing so well in the bit-short-of-prezzies-and-feeling-a-gullible-prat ledger.Happily, a spirit drops by to show Blackadder the evil deeds of his ancestors (new scenes in the settings from seasons 2 and 3), as well as the potential fate of his descendant in the far future.
I love this special, and I watch it every year. It's the most marvelously anti-sentimental version of A Christmas Carol I know, and I highly recommend it to those who, like me, aren't always that keen on holiday cheer.
Blackadder's Christmas Carol is available on DVD, usually packaged as an extra with Season 3. I have it on the Complete Series Set.