Magoo uncut: the original "Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol"
(Edited/refreshed/refurbished/redone as of 5:00 Friday, December 21st to include a new link to a New York Times story and to take out the link to the actual YouTube of the original "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" which has since been taken down--I was wondering when the NBC copywright snipers were going to shoot that link down...)
If you're my age, you remember seeing all of the above watching cartoons and kid shows on grainy black and white TV.
Early 60's television still featured reruns of "Amos 'n Andy". You could still see war-time cartoons with racist references to our German and Japanese enemies. And, there was Mr. Magoo.
An elderly blind gentleman who denied his disability, Magoo went through life creating mayhem. Wrong-way driving, now a modern scourge in Milwaukee, was a frequent comedic jumping off point And then, there was Magoo's Japanese houseboy, Charlie. Imagine every stereotype--then put it on steroids. And acid. That's Charlie.
Magoo was wildly popular and he was also a trend-setter. On December 18th, 1962 NBC aired "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol", a first-of-its-kind prime time holiday special.
This was a time when the "Flintstones" were "The Simpsons" of the era, when cartoons were common after dinnertime. Still, no one had thought to do Christmas animation after dark, until Magoo. Before Charlie Brown, before Rudolph, before the Grinch, there was the elderly, vision-impared gent cast as the lead in a re-do of Dickens' classic.
NBC last ran it in 1967, but they're bringing it back Saturday night (the 22nd). They've trimmed the opening, which has Magoo once again careening the wrong way down Manhattan streets in search of the Broadway theater where he's to perform (wrong way driving apparently was funny back then--not so much now). The meat of the story--the classic Dickens tale of conversion, redemption, and generosity--is intact.
It airs at seven, Saturday night, on Today's TMJ4.