villains

Re-Presenting “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol”

I suppose this is a Popdose holiday tradition too, and one you may not run from in fear…

It is solely through bias that I consider Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol the best version of Charles Dickens’ oft-interpreted story of a miser who, through the efforts of the supernatural, comes to recognize the validity of not just the holiday, but his fellow man. It’s a tall order, considering there are three hundred bazillion versions of this story out there. My affection goes way beyond that, however. I’ll go out on a limb to say it’s easily one of my top five holiday specials.

Historically, Magoo’s is the first animated holiday special, airing all the way back in 1962 and sparking something of a golden age of television. Magoo’s presence begat Rudolph, Frosty and my number one, A Charlie Brown Christmas. That one, like Magoo, doesn’t get bogged down in the modern Christmas iconography and manages to tell a story of redemption, humanity and forgiveness, but where Charlie Brown has become an annual tradition, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol sort of hangs by the wayside. It’s a shame, really, because not only is the story relatively faithful to the source material, it’s also funny and genuinely moving. It also benefits from having stellar songs from the writing team of Bob Merrill and Jule Styne, elevating the musical theater concept of the special beyond mere likeness. These were pros doing what they had on shows previously and would famously do in Funny Girl.

scroogemagooSincerely, I don’t know how a tune like “Winter Was Warm” could fall through the cracks. Did the association with being in a “cartoon” keep it from becoming a standard? I suspect the lack of a soundtrack album has something to do with that. Also, Jim Backus’ vocals as Ebenezer Scrooge are faithful to the Magoo persona, meaning that voice is not really meant for musicals, but it comes across perfectly, embittered in one song and broken-hearted in the next. It’s fortunate that the show is on DVD, since there are handfuls of specials I vaguely recall that have never even shown up on VHS, let alone DVD. Not only is it great that you can pick this classic up and share it with your friends and family, but the DVD allows the slightly tech-savvy to pull together something like what you’ll find below.

 

Overture

It’s Great To Be Back On Broadway

Ringle Ringle

The Lord’s Bright Blessing

Alone In The World

Winter Was Warm

We’re Despicable (Plunderers March)

Alone In The World Reprise

Ringle Ringle Reprise

The Lord’s Bright Blessing Finale

Credits (Winter Was Warm)

And, of course, if this is your first experience with the show, you might want to pick up Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol from Amazon.com.




  • Anonymous

    How did this get re-posted and I not see it on the homepage? I’m using “The Lord’s Bright Blessing” for my Christmas show and came here for last year’s entry to research. If I were you, this would be an annual holiday tradition on the ‘dose alongside Mellowmas.

  • Karen

    thanks for these! somewhere i have the audio track to this show but couldnt find it. I like to listen to it on the computer kinda old school radio style. i was thinking about buying the dvd this year as it never seems to be on tv like it used to but i see it will be 50 years soon…I might hold off and see if they put out a special edition in 2012. I seem to have the knack for buying cds/dvds only to have the ltd edition come out the following month or so. these tracks will hold me off until then. thanks again!

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I don’t know. We’ll see come next year, but it might be time to move onto other holiday musicals. Get ‘em while they’re here, kids!

    If I do repost next year, should I stick that Life Day song in too? (SHUDDER.)

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I don’t know. We’ll see come next year, but it might be time to move onto other holiday musicals. Get ‘em while they’re here, kids!

    If I do repost next year, should I stick that Life Day song in too? (SHUDDER.)

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I don’t know. We’ll see come next year, but it might be time to move onto other holiday musicals. Get ‘em while they’re here, kids!

    If I do repost next year, should I stick that Life Day song in too? (SHUDDER.)

  • DP

    Here we are a year later, and I’m sad that the links don’t work. =(

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    You just have to believe and be patient.

  • http://robertcashill.blogspot.com BobCashill

    Besides getting a primetime berth it also made the leap to Blu-ray this year, in a nice package.

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    It’s worth owning, no doubt.

    This year marked something that probably bears investigation in that NBC brought the special back and it did quite well. The Charlie Brown holiday specials shocked the ratings watchers too as they did better this year than had been for decades (although they’ve always been fairly strong). It’s A Wonderful Life had the best ratings it has has in many years too.

    I would like to say something about “quality” and while that might have played a role in it, I’m more inclined to believe we’re coming to a point of darkness overload. Our superheroes are dark in the movies. This week Peter Parker was killed by Doc Ock in the comics. True Blood, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad — even though these are considered some of television’s best, they’re very near oppressive in mood. I wonder if the rise in these holiday programs are just pure nostalgia or a kind of backlash. I’m hoping for the latter…getting real tired of being bummed by my entertainment, no matter how well it is done.

  • Dougie

    I, too, have loved MMG’s Christmas Carol since it first aired when I was barely 7 years old. LOVE the music and the portrayals of the characters. It simply puzzles me why they switched the order of Christmas Present and Christmas Past … But this is one Christmas special that deserves MUCH more attention than it gets.