With his ability to mug and look like a sick puppy and his years unable to find happiness as Dr. Frasier Crane, Kelsey Grammer seems perfectly suited to play the miserly, miserable Ebenezer Scrooge.
Even if he has to sing, as he does in NBC's delightful early, musical Christmas present, "A Christmas Carol" (9 p.m. Sunday, WGRZ-TV).
Grammer is no Bing Crosby. But he's had musical stage experience. He's more like Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady," an actor who more than compensates for his limited vocal range with his ability to sell an attitude and a character.
To those who focus on Grammer's range, you can only say bah humbug.
Because this fast-moving, musical feast is a treat that includes a Buffalo angle.
Jesse L. Martin, the Buffalo actor and "Law & Order" star who first came to prominence in "Rent," is a larger than life Ghost of Christmas Present. Dressed in a large green coat and floppy hat, the strong-voiced Martin spreads joy, comfort and life lessons.
Jane Krakowski of "Ally McBeal," looks and sounds fantastic as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Geraldine Chaplin lends her considerable presence and name as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
And Jason Alexander, the former "Seinfeld" star who has had his shining moments on Broadway, is delightfully cast as Scrooge's business partner, Jacob Marley, and his Ghost.
Jennifer Love Hewitt, faking a decent British accent, is aboard in a new role as the young love that young Scrooge ignored in his pursuit of money. And British star Brian Bedford plays the old boss that the heartless Scrooge ignored in his time of need.
The cast is superb, the music is practically non-stop, the visuals in this Hallmark Entertainment production from Robert Halmi Sr. ("Gulliver's Travels") are excellent and the classic old story about the importance and joy one gets from doing good deeds for others still sings.
The music by Oscar and Grammy-wining composer Alan Menken and Tony-winning lyricist Lynn Ahrens may not be terribly memorable but it is relentlessly cheery and upbeat.
All in all, this is a well-made, family-friendly movie that NBC should proudly play annually for many Christmas futures to come.
Rating: 3 stars out of 4