It's actually a very respectable adaptation of Dickens' story. But it's the musical score that has always leaped out, arguably one of the best original scores written for a TV special, let alone an animated one. It helps that it was written by Broadway composer Jule Styne and lyricist Bob Merrill, who had just completed the score for Funny Girl. Separately, Jule Styne wrote such shows as Gypsy, Bells are Ringing, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and half the score of Peter Pan. Not to mention 10 Oscar nomination, and one win -- as well as the appropriate song for the season, "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow." On his own, Bob Merrill wrote the music and lyrics to such shows, Carnival! and Take Me Along.
So, Mr. Maggo's Christmas Carol had an impressive pedigree.
I remember several years back I was visiting my cousin's house, and he and his wife had rented the recording of the show to watch with their little son. They didn't know it, and when I was over one night and was enthusing about they asked if I wanted to stay to watch. That was a no-brainer. After I'd explained how wonderful the musical score was, they both said they hoped so because after having watched SO many animated children's TV specials their heads were ready to explode from the boring, unmemorable blandness. "Trust me," was all I added.
The video came on, and they enjoyed the opening "bookend" song, which sets up that Magoo is doing A Christmas Carol as a musical. They enjoyed it, but I said that that was really not much more than a throwaway number, that the "real" score starts when the show-within-the-show does. Fine, okay, they waited.
And then the first, "official" song began, "Ringle, Ringle." And I swear, five seconds into the song, they both turned to me, their eyes wide open and both saying, "Oh, my God." All I could say was, "There's more to come."
This is that first song, and more than just the first five seconds.
Yes, it has a real name, "The Lord's Bright Blessing," but I suspect most people know it as the "Razzleberry Dressing Song."
It would be nice if NBC put the show on every year again, and without editing it down. Or have one of the major cable channels do so. I'm not holding my breath on that. Two years ago, I brought the DVD over to a couple of friend's who have a little daughter, then four-years-old. We watched it together, and a few days later they called to say how much she utterly loved the show and was still singing songs from it. So much for being outdated for broadcast standards. But thank goodness for video...
Animated TV musical scores don't get much better than this.