Thursday, December 20, 2012

Home For Christmas

Mr. Magoo Comes Home For Christmas:

First airing on Dec. 18, 1962 on NBC, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was the very first made-for-TV animated special and predated time-honored favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the Peanuts classic fueled by Vince Guaraldi's piano trio.

However, the pioneering Magoo hasn't had a similar kind of staying power.

"I think they took it off the air because it's politically incorrect to poke fun at people who are [visually] impaired," Elliot said. "But that doesn't take away from the sophistication and the greatness of the music and animation."

Darrell Van Citters, author of Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special, cites a different reason for the special's disappearance.

"The other programs had more ancillary material to help push them," Van Citters explains. "Rudolph had the classic song that comes back every year, Peanuts was in front of everybody all year round, How the Grinch Stole Christmas had a book that started the whole thing. This one didn't have anything quite like that."

However, Magoo did have great songs by a pair of Broadway veterans, composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob Merrill. They crafted songs like "Alone In The World," "We're Despicable" and "The Lord's Bright Blessing" for the show while juggling another, more well-known project, Funny Girl.

Just like the Charles Dickens classic from which it was adapted, the story of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol has a happy ending. To mark the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast, the special is getting a new DVD release and NBC will air the program this Sat., Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET.

Mark your calendars, set your DVRs or whatever it is you kids do these days.