Mr. Magoo: The Television Collection 1960-1977

Mr. Magoo: The Television Collection 1960-1977
Considering how slight the premise of the Mr. Magoo cartoons was, there was always something rather endearing about the misadventures of the short-sighted geriatric. Much of that was down to the wonderful voice acting, done by Jim Backus, but there was also a certain amount of sweetness mixed in with the crankiness. Whatever the reasons might be, they were enough to garner two Academy Awards and keep him around for longer than necessary. The original 53 theatrical shorts from the '50s are being released next year, but this set focuses on the later cartoons made especially for television. The original television show, The Mr. Magoo Show, initially appeared in 1960 and the 26 episodes were in syndication for many years. Each half-hour episode consists of five cartoons linked by short segments that involve Magoo and his supporting cast, such as nephew Waldo and his Chinese houseboy, Charlie. While there's nothing here that would end up winning an Oscar, the quality is high and there are plenty of fun shenanigans. The one downside is these are not the uncensored versions. As with previous sets, Charlie's voice is re-dubbed in some to be less ethnically insensitive, although the originals are occasionally still intact. It's a minor issue, but worth noting. The unexpected gem is the 1964 series, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. It followed Christmas television staple Magoo's Christmas Carol and transported the protagonist into literary classics. It works because it doesn't always make Magoo the main character ― sometimes he spends more time on sidelines making the occasional wisecrack, leaving more capable characters to move the story along. It also has some surprisingly darker moments and pushes Magoo in a welcome new direction during its 26-episode run. This is the reason to pick up this set. Equally enjoyable is Uncle Sam Magoo, a one-hour television special from 1970 that's a potted history of the United States, complete with a healthy dose of Magoo-isms. It's very similar in spirit to The Famous Adventures and could have quite easily been added to that, seeming a little lonely on a DVD all by itself. Mr. Magoo's final television series is also his weakest by a mile. What's New Mr. Magoo made it onto Saturday morning television in 1977, giving him an equally myopic dog called McBarker. By this point, the writers were constantly struggling to come up with new situations where Magoo's eyesight could generate hilarity and it gets increasingly painful to watch, although it still wasn't as bad as the awful live action movie that followed in 1997 ― a sad way for the character to fade away. With more than 32 hours of content, this is a collection that will take a long, long time to work through, but there are still a few extras thrown in. There are a handful of commentary tracks spread throughout, along with a 20-minute featurette that covers much of the same ground as the enclosed booklet. (Shout! Factory)