Dickens' 'Christmas Carol' takes a dark turn on FX, BBC: Hide the kids

The latest interpretation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," may very well be spooking viewers this holiday season.

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The BBC and  FX have co-produced a rendition starring Guy Pearce for this holiday season. But there isn't much festive about it, according to critics who have called it "dark," "bleak" and "distressing."

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It premiered on FX in the U.S. on Dec. 19, replays Christmas Eve at 8 p.m., and it is also available on demand. No audience numbers have been made available. It debuted in the United Kingdom on the BBC Sunday night to 4.7 million viewers for the first part of the three-part mini-series. But Monday's night second installment dropped to 3.3 million according to Deadline.

FX, the long-time home to edgy TV series such as "The Shield" and "Sons of Anarchy" has put that "edginess" into the classic holiday tale of the meaning of Christmas. While other versions starring the likes of Oscar-winner George C. Scott, which premiered on CBS in 1984 or TNT's 1999 version with legendary "Star Trek" captain Patrick Stewart, who performed it as a one-man show on Broadway, have looked at some of the dark places in the life of its central character Ebeneezer Scrooge, this FX edition with Pierce takes it to new levels.

Here are what some critics had to say:

Dickens’ story is one of goodness and the universality of kindness. This new version, on the other hand, focuses on innate human vileness. And although it's well-executed and thought-provoking, I found such a bleak and, frankly, distressing overhaul too dark for my liking. 

- Tricia Cummings, Mashable

Guy Pearce as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" airing on FX and the BBC

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 FX’s new adaptation . . . is altogether more grim and ghostly. In all the Christmases that have passed since Charles Dickens first created Scrooge in 1843, we’ve never seen one like this.

- Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

Andy Serkis, of "Lord of the Rings" fame, takes on the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past in the new version of "A Christmas Carol" airing on FX and the BBC

This is hardly enjoyable to watch; it feels hardly anti-art or -experimentation to note that if you’re going to deliver “A Christmas Carol” in which Scrooge isn’t a burbling old figgy pudding of a curmudgeon but rather a seductive ego-monster, you’d better have a really good reason for depriving us. The idea, here, doesn’t pay out"

- Daniel D'Addario, Variety

Dickens wrote the timeless tale back in 1843. Since the turn of the 20th century, there have been more than 50 variations of the story produced for movies and television. The Muppets, comedy superstar Bill Murray, the animated Mr. Magoo have all taken a stab at playing the rich cheapskate with a heart of ice who finds the true meaning of the holiday one Christmas Eve. Now, the ledger of adaptations has an entry that it appears is very different from all the rest.

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