Reviews For The Carol
You must login (register) to review.
Reviewer: SandraDee Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Jan 2009 5:28:56 PM Title: Part Five: Christmas Day

Another satisfying part to the story, Penny!  I really liked how you tied together these snippets of events that Dale had observed into the changes Dale made in the lives of others and in his own attitude.  It was also good to see Dale stop cutting himself off and reconnect with humanity.

Author's Response:

Thanks, Sandra!

Poor Dale went through so much in that one night, he needed to enjoy this day, and I think he had to reconnect with his fellow survivors and his own humanity to do that. It was lots of fun to write, and thanks for going along for the ride!

Reviewer: SandraDee Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Jan 2009 5:24:02 PM Title: Part Four: The Third Spirit

How perfect was that ending and the reveal of the third spirit!?!  When the men were lamenting the unfairness of Dale's murder and saying he never killed anyone, I thought to myself, 'Little do they know.... '  So that got me thinking about Mitch Cafferty and wondering if he would fit into the tale in some way.  I guess I got my answer.

Being familiar with Dickens's tale, I knew that Dale would eventually realize the identity of the murdered man; nevertheless, I found myself in suspense as Dale went on this journey of discovery.  I enjoyed reading the twists and turns of this discovery.  You do such a good job with characterization, Penny.  I just love reading your work!

Author's Response:

Thanks for the great compliments!

I enjoyed playing with the mysterious and creepy spirit here, and I was lucky as I had the perfect spirit to haunt Dale in his future. It was fun to use the irony of what his workers didn't know in the scene whre they discussed Dale's murder and whether he had ever killed anyone.

It was fun exploring Dale's character through this story, and I had a lot to work with. Thanks for reading!

Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Jan 2009 1:59:58 PM Title: Epilogue

A very nice ending, Penny!  You've left all our favorite characters in a good place.  They're older, wiser, and tested, but they've come through better and stronger I think.  I have to agree with Bonnie here:


“I love hanging out with your family and the Greens, but lately all they do is talk about babies,” said  Dale.
Bonnie shrugged. “Better then when they used to only talk about strategies or the army I guess.”

This is a good place to leave our heros, a few Christmases in, looking toward a reasonably happy future, babies abounding, life continuing.  Thanks for sharing!

Author's Response:

Thank you!

Though less exciting, I really enjoyed writing this part. I didn't want to give it a 'happily ever after' ending, but having shown a bleak (pre-season two standards anyway) future, I needed to give an indication that our favourite townspeople survived beyond that, and were happy at some point, with life continuing and babies abounding, as you said.

Thanks for going along for this ride, and for all your comments!

Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Jan 2009 1:42:23 PM Title: Part Five: Christmas Day

Awww!  Dale did good! :-)

All of this was just sweet, from Dale playing Santa to the refugees and giving Art another day off, to foisting Mimi's eggnog on Jimmy (and giving a yo-yo to Woody and bubbles to Sally), to arranging for Emily to keep Gail company and therefore not be alone herself, to doing what he could to make his peace with Skylar.

I loved the chance to see the video of Johnston's inauguration and to hear his message to his future grandchildren. 

I also loved that Jake and Heather seem to get together a little faster thanks to the changes in this universe... so much so that Stanley got to tell them to "get a room!"

And again, I loved Dale's gentleness with Skylar, not wanting her to think he was trying to get back together, but that he did want her to have friends, have fun, have what she could of a good life.  I really get the feeling that Dale cares for Skylar, and I wonder again what went wrong.  :-(  Their relationship is quite bittersweet here, and I would love to see you write a story that explained some of this for us (hint, hint).  I'd love to see you write a Dale/Skylar story, Penny!

Author's Response:

Thanks, Marzee!

It was fun letting Dale take all that he learned, and the privileged information he gained, to meddle a bit in his world and try to make some good come out of it.

I enjoyed writing the video scene, and was glad to be able to have Dale give the Greens something like this, having seen their present grief and future hopes all in one night.

Dale does care deeply for Skylar, and tries to do what he can for her, despite whatever went wrong between them. I do love writing about this pair, and I just may be writing them a story of their own at some point :)

Thanks for reading!

Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Jan 2009 12:47:01 PM Title: Part Four: The Third Spirit

Very well done!  This part especially had a really haunted, really creepy feeling.  It's fascinating what you can do just with word choice and with what you reveal -- how and when.

The crackdown on Jericho's citizens was ominious last year, but after seeing season 2 it seems almost quaint.  Still, I really felt for the Greens and their grief over Gail's death.  The world around them might not be quite as bad, but their loss was certainly more profound than we saw on the show (even if we hardly saw Gail).

It's interesting that Jake was willing to go to retrieve Dale's body, and that as always the only ones who would go with him were Eric and Stanley.  I was surprised to hear that some of Dale's employees came to his "funeral" without the lunch (that line was's always so snide in the original, and it was perfect here, too).  I'm left wondering what kind of "respects" they were paying.

I think I remembered Mitchell as the uber creepy Ghost of Christmas Future, but I still have to say that he was the perfect choice.  Since I either guessed or remembered right from the beginning, it was even more chilling as I read this part and then when Mitchell told Dale that he was just like him I wanted to protest along with Dale.  I thought Dale's bargaining and promising to remember and learn from what he'd seen, and to "keep Christmas in his heart" was very in character for who Dale is as a teenage boy.  In some ways he's mature -- has always been, probably -- and he ended up old (and crotchety) before his time.  But in other ways he's immature and his speech illustrated this perfectly.

Finally, just a comment... we didn't see Emily in this one (or Skylar for that matter).  Having picked up on the fact (this time) that Dale is interested in what happens to Emily, I found this interesting, and I am wondering what Christmas Future was like for her.  Just an observation/aside.

Well done, Penny!  Quite faithful to the spirit of the original, but still this story has such a Jericho-y feel.

Author's Response:

Thank you!

This was another fun part to write, delving into a darker future than any part I had previously written. Though you are right, it definitely doesn't seem dark compared to the world that season two of Jericho showed us, though when I wrote this, I was envisioning a slower build to the chaotic climax the ASA's hold over the town reached in the short season. So here, everyone is still on edge. They're starting to feel uneasy about how their rights are being threatened, some incidents are starting to spook our townspeople, but things haven't quite reached a fever pitch yet. Gail as Tiny Tim posed a slightly different feel, as the original story's Cratchit family mourn the loss of a child who never gets to meet his full potential, but the loss of Gail affects her family in a profound and different way, and they feel it especially as they remember what she gave them and all the things they had hoped she would still share with them in their lives. I think she's also at the heart of their town, and losing her means losing the hope she brought.

Dale wasn't forgotten completely by the people he knows in town, and though they don't mourn him as deeply as the people they are close to, it was important for Dale to see that he wasn't completely disconnected from this town. I did always love that 'if there's a lunch provided' line in the original, and couldn't resist paying homage to it here.

The ghosts were the most fun to cast, and the easiest really. It meant I could cast someone familiar yet not close to Dale to show him his past, someone he had a relationship with and respected to show him the present, and someone with a very unique relationship to Dale as his future, haunting him and tying together all three really, his past actions, present misery, and ominous future.

Emily and Skylar were, I suppose, not deemed important to the future in the spirit's mind as he showed Dale where the error of his ways would land him in the future, and since this spirit is so creepy and not friendly like the others were, Dale doesn't feel he can exert power over who they visit. And I think, on some level, Dale doesn't want to see where they end up, in this slightly bleaker holiday time.

Thanks again for reading and commenting!



Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 01 Jan 2009 11:18:18 PM Title: Part Three: The Second Spirit

Ah, Penny!  I knew this part was going to be a good one as soon as I read this...


“Uh, Mr. Mayor-” started Dale.

“Dale, I am not the mayor,” the figure said, with a hint of annoyance. His expression relaxed then, and he grinned. “I am the here and the now, that is to say, Christmas Present.”

I'm so glad you brought Johnston in as the Ghost of Christmas Present. :-)

The different scenes that Johnston/Ghost of Christmas Present showed him -- and the one Dale wandered into all on his own -- were very interesting.  I think I remember the tension between Heather and Emily being over Jake, ultimately, but I also would guess it's because Emily is drifting and Heather is throwing herself into doing what she needs to do to survive.  Pure speculation on my part, but I think that Emily has isolated herself from people and Heather has built new relationships and grown away from Emily.  Dale seems to be like Emily in this way, isolated.  Maybe that's why he always checks in on her? 



.... he could smell different foods cooking. He would have made a comment to the spirit about how stupid it was to use all the best stuff in your cupboard at the beginning of winter, but something about this spirit made him hold his tongue.

This sounds just like Dale the curmudgeon but it also reminds me that Dale has suffered from want a lot longer than most of the rest of Jericho and it's a little bit the voice of experience (and a little bit judgmental).  Anyway, I had to point it out because I really struck me as an interesting and telling statement.

I enjoyed the Greens' Christmas Dinner, and won't say much more on that except that Jake as Mrs. Cratchit is inspired.  He is the best choice for the role, but I don't think I would have thought of it so, bravo!

I felt so sad for Gail, looking through her photo album and missing Johnston while he stood behind her looking at the same album, wishing he could let her know he was there.  It's an addition to the story to have the Ghost of Christmas Present have relationships with those they visit, but it really got me, and I'm so glad you included it.

Seeing Skylar with the Carmichael's was interesting, and how Dale talked about Skylar's relationship to them left me wondering yet again what went wrong between them.  I'm glad though that she seems if not happy then content with them... certainly it's got to be better than being the au pair for Gray's great nephews!

Jake's and Heather's "surprise" of having restored the sleigh was wonderful and I enjoyed the party at the Richmonds', even as I was embarrassed for Dale, having to listen to everyone talk about him.  The thing I noticed here that you did really well is that Dale heard it all, and but seem to fully understand what was going on.  He was hurt, but he didn't hear what they were saying -- they couldn't just go on surviving and without living.  So for that reason I was glad to see this at the end.


“Remember,” said the spirit, standing in the doorway, “It isn't just about survival.”

With that, he was gone. The room was dark and cold again. Although Dale had wanted to get away from the Richmonds' party, now he realized part of him wished he were back in the warm living room, surrounded by voices and laughter. He shivered and climbed back under the sleeping bag.

This was so Johnston.  He really was the perfect fit at the Ghost of Christmas Present.  Nicely done, Penny.

Author's Response:


Casting the Greens as the Cratchits was fun. Jake had to be Mrs. Cratchit, since he is the more cynical voice in the family, just as she was. I liked taking the ghosts a step further in this one, showing their interactions with their environment since they all come from Jericho, and Johnston was the most interesting to work with, since we visit his family coping with their first Christmas without him. (Though, obviously, his presence is still there)

I think you are right about Heather and Emily. Though there's a bit of awkward conflict there because of Jake, it's more about how they've grown apart as individuals. Emily has isolated herself in a certain way, and I think Dale sympathizes with that, as well as remembers how she tried to bring him out of his shell back in his earlier classroom scene.

Skylar is definitely enjoying herself more than she would babysitting Gray's nephews, and she has found a certain contentment, though Dale worries for her still.

I had fun writing the party at the Richmonds. Poor Dale doesn't quite understand their sense of merriment, I think, though part of him wishes he could share in it. Your observations are correct.

Thanks again!

Reviewer: SandraDee Signed [Report This]
Date: 31 Dec 2008 11:08:23 PM Title: Part Three: The Second Spirit

Another enjoyable installment, Penny. 

Like Dale, I felt like I was eavesdropping on some very interesting conversations.  I enjoyed getting snapshots of what life is like for Jericho's citizens along with Dale.  It couldn't have been easy for him to be the butt of jokes or the subject of scoffing. Then again, I suppose he has earned it.

I also liked how you chose Johnston to be the second ghost.  It was a fitting choice.

I'm off to read more!

Author's Response:


This was one of the chapters I had the most fun writing. It was certainly eye opening for Dale, but kind of karmic, as you said.  

Johnston as the second ghost was one of my first 'casting' ideas when I decided I was going to write this. His philosophy seemed perfect for the ghost of post-apocalyptic Christmas Present.

Reviewer: Skyrose Signed [Report This]
Date: 28 Dec 2008 4:01:51 PM Title: Part One: A Familiar Face

I has glad to see this story posted here and enjoyed reading it again.  I really liked how you took one of my favorite Christmas stories and made it fit in the Jericho world. I think you choice of Dale as Scrooge will provide some interesting insight into his character.

Author's Response:

Thanks! It's my favourite holiday story (A Christmas Carol) and I had so much fun adapting it to the Jericho world. I at first considered a few characters for Scrooge, but I loved the way I could explore Dale as a Scrooge-before-his-time here.

Reviewer: SandraDee Signed [Report This]
Date: 18 Dec 2008 9:49:18 PM Title: Part Two: The First Spirit

Oh, Penny, you've done such a good job with this story!  I can see why it would be painful for Dale to look back, albeit for differing reasons.

The scene with his mother--Dale's mom not being able to provide the presents she wanted but them managing to have fun anyway--really struck me as an amazing contrast to Dale's current situation.  Compared to most in Jericho, he's rich materially.  Yet he's obviously lacking in what truly matters--the love of family.

The scene with Dale being in Emily's classroom had me alternately chuckling (Sean playing's a wonder that boy knows how to spell anything other than vibe) and feeling for him. The awkwardness that Dale felt, the terror, and (what I perceived to be) excitement over being noticed by the teacher seemed painstakingly real. It was obviously uncomfortable for Scroogish-Dale, but I couldn't quite decide why.  Was it because Dale was seeing the boy he used to be?  The one who was meek, the one that few noticed? 

I also enjoyed the scene with Skylar and Dale and the contraband Christmas tree.  It definitely has me wondering what happened to estrange the two . I can only assume they are estranged or that something bad happened to Skylar.  Otherwise, the I'd say that the two would be spending the holiday season together, and we'd have a more jovial Dale who would likely not be in need of a visit from Christmas spirits. 

I look forward to finding out more!

Author's Response:


You're very right about the contrast between Dale's situations in Christmas past and present. He's gained one thing he once seemed to be lacking, but lost something that is more important.

Scroogish Dale did find it uncomfortable to see himself in Emily's class, I think for the reasons you stated. It's hard to see himself so vulnerable, when he's tried so hard to build an armour around himself.

You are also right about Skylar/Dale, in that this scene from the past, and the change in their dynamic in the present, has affected Dale very much this Christmas.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 14 Dec 2008 8:43:03 PM Title: Part Two: The First Spirit

I enjoyed the trip through Dale's memories of the past.  He seems so conflicted over his mother, like he was always trying to parent her as much as she was him.  The tale of the gingerbread house - "Guess it's not our house anymore," was really bittersweet for two people, essentially growing up together in a trailer park, and I assume sort of wishing for something more permanent.

Now I will shock you by saying that Emily didn't really annoy me in this part!  At least she was trying to relate to Dale, and I always enjoy a good Sean Henthorn joke.  But, in Dale's place, I wouldn't be taking the homemade chocolate.  I didn't ever get the impression that Emily was very competent in the kitchen!

I think it's telling, too that Dale didn't want to re-experience the memory of his Christmas with Skylar.  I loved this story last year, but I don't remember what caused their break-up (if you told us) so I'm interested in finding out.  They really did seem happy here, putting up a tree and swapping memories.  In some ways, Dale seems more open with Skylar than he was even with his mother, so I'll be interested to see what went wrong in their friendship (they really seemed to be friends) and overall relationship.

Author's Response:


You're very right about Dale's mother here. It's a relationship that Dale felt very conflicted over. He loved his mother very much but felt a difficult sense of responsibility and having to grow up before his time.

I'm glad Emily didn't annoy you too much. She was really trying, and I think her students appreciated it, but I think I would also steer clear of her chocolate, having heard what happens when she tries to bake and things go on fire.

You're right, Skylar and Dale were happy that Christmas, and it is very much a reason for Dale's reaction to this Christmas.

Reviewer: Marzee Doats Signed [Report This]
Date: 14 Dec 2008 8:28:53 PM Title: Part One: A Familiar Face

Ah, Penny!  So glad to see this posted here!  I've watched 2 versions of A Christmas Carol in anticipation, and I just have to say that I think yours is definitely up there with both the Muppets and Patrick Stewart. :-D

I just have to say, Dale should be ashamed of himself, treating Gail that way!  Bonnie was one thing, but Gail must be so disappointed. 

I'm on board and ready for a great holiday treat!

Author's Response:


And thanks for the compliment! (I love the Muppets Carol. Haven't seen Patrick Stewart but I hear it's good).

Dale is, of course, quite the grumpy young man here, but I guess he'd tell you he has good reason to be. Gail and Bonnie are quite disappointed, but they also feel sorry for him, as they do understand a bit about why he is the way he is.


Reviewer: SandraDee Signed [Report This]
Date: 02 Dec 2008 10:49:43 PM Title: Part One: A Familiar Face

Ah, Penny, I love it!  Though inspired by the Dickens classic, you've certainly made this your own and captured the characters from Jericho and their situations.  As always, your attention to detail is second to none.  For instance, Gracie Leigh's chains--which consisted of the trinkets she traded for, along with the pesiticide--were both humorous and appropriate.  Dale's certainty that his seeing Gracie is the result of parasites or irradiated seeds in the oatmeal he ate was a great homage to Scrooge's certainty that his vision was the result of a bad meal (undercooked potatos in ACC?  Don't remember exactly).

I'm really looking forward to going through this journey with Dale!

Author's Response:

Thanks Sandra!

I just love A Christmas Carol, so I had a great time adapting it to another fictional world I love. I had to look it up myself, what food Scrooge blamed in the original, because I was remembering 'a glob of mustard'. Turns out we are both right, he blames potatos, mustard, meat and cheese. Poor Dale only had mushy oatmeal.

Thanks so much for taking time to read and review, and I hope you enjoy the next spirit's visit!

You must login (register) to review.