Turn Back the Clock
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol
Distributed By: Classic Media
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I was a kid, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was a staple of the holiday season. If you didn’t see it at least once a year, it just didn’t feel like Christmas. As I grew older, it seemed that Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was forgotten by the media powers that be in preference to more modern holiday specials. But I never forgot the original favorite and when I saw it was available on DVD, I jumped on the opportunity to purchase it.
The story begins with the extremely near-sighted elderly man (Jim Backus) singing about returning to Broadway while crashing into things, entering the wrong buildings and making a mess of stuff in classic Mr. Magoo fashion. We soon learn that Mr. Magoo is returning to Broadway as Scrooge in a new musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
This version of A Christmas Carol is freely adapted from the original, meaning that it doesn’t hold strictly to the original Charles Dickens tale. Thus, the first spirit to visit Magoo after Jacob Marley (Royal Dano) is actually the Ghost of Christmas Present (Les Tremayne) and the only home they visit is that of Bob Cratchit (Jack Cassidy). As I watched, I couldn’t believe how many songs I could remember from the show after all these years. I found myself singing along with the Cratchit family having the finest Christmas, not necessarily because if the huge Christmas tree, Razzleberry dressing and stockings full of gifts, but because the family was all together on this special day.
The next visit is from the Ghost of Christmas Past (Joan Gardner) who takes Scrooge to see himself as a young child (Marie Matthews) at boarding school who feels all alone in the world, especially at Christmas time. We then travel to Fezziwig's and his grand Christmas party and the beautiful daughter (Jane Kean) that Scrooge was to marry until money became the most important thing to him.
We then move on to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who shows Scrooge what the future has in store for him and Tiny Tim. And finally we see Scrooge coming to his senses and learning to be a better man. The musical ends with Scrooge joining the Cratchits for dinner and finally, the cast taking a curtain call, followed by Mr. Magoo bringing down the house, quite literally.
Yes, this version of A Christmas Carol is a little out of order and somewhat shortened, but I love it all the same. The fact that I remember most of the songs so well is testimony to just how special Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was to me as a child. I had loads of fun watching this again after all these years. No matter that the television stations won’t play this animated holiday special anymore – I own it on DVD and can play it as often as I like. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is one of those holiday favorites I can’t seem to get enough of.