Anyone who reads my blogs yearly knows that one of my favorite Christmas stories is also one of the most often adapted ones ever...namely A Christmas Carol. In fact, there have been no less than 21 film adaptations and equal amounts in television and the theater. Several of them are rather joyless affairs, but some of them are inspired adaptations and worth making into holiday traditions. The one I am presenting to you tonight is a favorite of one of my co-workers and he often mentions it when we talk about our favorite versions of the Dickens classic. I had never seen this particular one until this year when it was added to Netflix instant watch, and I am very glad that it was. Now I can stop him from bugging me about seeing it...I kid, I kid. This particular adaptation features a cartoon character that you may be familiar with, the nearsighted Mr. Magoo. Yes, "the" Mr. Magoo who has entertained us for years with his lovable antics has taken on the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge and he is here to 'humbug' us while not seeing an inch in front of him. So let's put on our glasses (cause we know Magoo won't wear his) and watch Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
It is opening night on Broadway for the talented Mr. Magoo and he is very excited to be starring in a new stage musical of A Christmas Carol. Things get off to a rocky start as he arrives late to the performance...30 minutes late in fact...and has to be rushed on stage by the director. Soon the show begins and the story segways into that of Ebeneezer Scrooge (Magoo) who hates people, is greedy, and has no use for Christmas. However his life is turned upside down when he is visited by his dead partner, Jacob Marley, who informs him that his soul is doomed if he doesn't change his ways. According to Marley, he will be visited by three ghosts who will show him the true meaning of Christmas. Will Scrooge learn from the experience, or will he stay doomed for eternity?
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is unique in that it was one of the first regularly run Christmas specials ever shown on television. It premiered in 1962 and was run annually on NBC in the years since. It's actually a rather cute and slim adaptation of the tale and with a completely natural casting of Magoo as Scrooge (and a very natural way of explaining why he is so Scroogey by placing him as the star of a play). The songs are a little overly cute and some of the jokes fall flat, but as a piece of Christmassy nostalgia it works. I'm certainly glad I've seen it and I think I may add it to my yearly rotation, we will have to see how I feel a year from now. As far as versions of the Scrooge story go, this one is a winner in my book. See it with your kids if you have a chance, I think they'll take to it.