All month long, we’ll be dissecting obscure
Tebowmas Christmas specials from our past to see what delights they may hold and what they may tell us about their times and ours.
I must confess: I never really got Mister Magoo. As a kid, it was one of the few cartoons I couldn’t even sit through. I know that cartoons (particularly cartoons that originated in the ’40s) aren’t know for their subtlety and three-dimensional characterization, but Magoo seemed one-note even for the genre. He’s near-sighted, you see, which causes problems when he falls down and walks into things.
So when I learned that Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was the first animated holiday special made for TV, I considered it a chance to take a second look at the bald little fucker, and see if he carried some depth or humor I couldn’t see as a child.
Title: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
Synopsis: Magoo is a big Broadway star, apparently. He stumbles into a theater (in the nick of time!) and stars in a production of A Christmas Carol, which takes up all but maybe three minutes of the hour running time. Once we’re immersed in the production itself, with Magoo as Scrooge, we’re treated to the most rote, by-the-numbers version of the tale imaginable.
Classic Christmas Story Used as a Template: A Christmas Carol, of course. What differentiates this version of the Dickens classic from the thousands of others we’ve seen on TV and film. Virtually nothing. If the Magoo cartoons had any distinctive charm of personality of their own (they didn’t), they’re missing here. It’s just the Scrooge story, essentially devoid of humor or wit, with some crappy songs thrown in. If this was the first TV Christmas special, it’s a miracle that there were any more in its wake. This should have ruined it for everybody. The Christmas Carol template exposes how bland Mr. Magoo himself is. If you want to suffer and watch it yourself, go for it:
Most Important Fact Learned: Young Magoo was a Ginger.
Number of “Magoo is Near-Sighted” Jokes: Seven. Admirable restraint.
Number of Times Magoo Accidentally Walks Into a Women’s Bathroom and Hilarity Ensues: Just the one.
Number of Songs That Might Have Inspired Songs in Les Miserables: Two. The duet between Scrooge and Cratchit (“It’s cold/It’s cold” vs. “Ringle, ringle (sounds of counting money”) was a clear forerunner of “Confrontation” with Valjean and Javert; the weird, out-of-place song by the graverobbers (“We’re Despicable”) seems like clear inspiration for “Master of the House.”
How Many Minutes I Would Have Watched Were I Not Blogging About It: Four.
How Many Minutes I Would Have Watched Were I Not Thinking About Jim Backus’s Voice Work and How This Would Have Been More Entertaining as an Episode of Gilligan’s Island Focused on Mr. Howell: Two.
Tebow Christ Figure: Tiny Tim. He died in the alternate timeline to save Scrooge/Magoo’s soul.
WTF With Tiny Tim in this Special? Right? He’s clearly stupid along with being physically handicapped. And he keeps singing about wanting razzleberry dressing and razzleberry gravy. Enough with the fucking razzleberries, dummy. No one has any. No one wants any. Your dad is just tyring to make it through the day. The last thing he needs is your insufferable whining about razzleberry gravy. Which sounds disgusting. And makes me think of these:
Biggest Disappointment: Once the play-within-the-show started, I assumed we were in for a mind-blowing, Charlie Kaufman-esque deconstruction of the fourth wall and the relationship between performer and audience. Through Magoo, we would explore the signifiers of stage and screen, and examine what a specific interpretation of a classic story would have to say about our culture and our society. Perhaps Magoo’s myopia would serve as a metaphor for Americans’ reliance on drama and narrative to express our emotions. Nope.
Ridiculous Wikipedia Fact: “As recently as December 25, 2006, many listeners told the National Public Radio program Talk of the Nation that Mister Magoo was their favorite Ebenezer Scrooge.” If that’s not an indictment of NPR listeners, I don’t know what is.
The Special Summarized in a Quote: “In life, I was your partner, Jacob Marley.” “Humbug!”
What the Ghost of Christmas Future Looked Like: An orange Ring-wraith:
Moral/Lesson: Be excellent to each other. Or you will go to Hell and everyone good will die.
How This Applies to Tim Tebow: If Tim Tebow’s mother had an abortion, she would go to Hell and Tiny Tim Tebow never would have existed. Oh, what a woeful world this would be.