Mr. Magoo (voiced by Jim Backus) is starring on Broadway as Ebenezzer Scrooge. And this hour special follows the story from the book. Scrooge is a miser who can't see the point of Christmas until he is haunted by three spirits who show him the error of his ways.
I've got to admit I had never managed to see this special over the years, so I don't have the warm nostalgia to it many others do. Still, this is a very good version of the classic story, especially for the 52 minute running time. They leave some characters out, but I can understand that since the story is compressed. What bothers me more is the change of order that the ghosts visit Scrooge. It just doesn't work as well as the original order did.
What works so well here are the songs. They are very close to Broadway quality and convey so much emotion from the characters.
One reason I had stayed away was because I didn't see how Mr. Magoo, a comedy character, could play Scrooge. They actually keep most of the comedy to the Broadway wrap arounds and play the story itself straight, so it works well. And this might be the least scary version I've ever seen, although Marley could still frighten very young kids.
This Blu-ray set is great for fans. The picture looks absolutely amazing. I have nothing to compare it, too, but I can't imagine it looked any better with previous releases. The sound is full surround, but the back speakers are pretty much just used for music. Extras include an interesting audio commentary hosted by Darrell van Citters. There are also some storyboard to finished scene comparisons and a gallery of background art in progress and finished plus a demo of one of the songs. You also get a booklet with some of the behind the scenes stories. All this plus a DVD copy of the special as well.
While this will never be the definitive version of the story for me, I can certainly see the appeal. New or old fan, be sure to watch this year.
NOTE: I received a copy of the Blu-Ray set in exchange for my honest review.