Myopic Mr. Magoo returns on DVD

Mr. Magoo’s making a comeback. More than 30 years after Mr. Quincy Magoo did the disappearing act, he returns as the wealthy, short-statured and nearsighted retiree who gets into one sticky situation after another.Magoo, created at the UPA animation studio in 1949 for theatrical shorts, is making an appearance on DVD with Kung Fu Magoo. The nearsighted Magoo (voiced by Jim Conroy), too stubborn to wear glasses, teams up with nephew Justin to fight robot spiders, ninjas on jet skis, and other villains in a kung-fu-style comic adventure.

The old Magoo can also be seen in a re-release of Mr. Magoo in Sherwood Forest (Magoo plays Friar Tuck).

Classic Media, which recently released the two DVDs, said the purpose was to introduce Magoo (and his trademark catchphrase “Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!”) to a new generation of viewers, and include something for the generation that grew up loving him.

Magoo’s first appearance (voiced by Jim Backus) was in 1949 in the theatrical short The Ragtime Bear, which was scripted by Millard Kaufman. Columbia was reportedly disinclined to release the short, but did so, only because the cast included a bear. However, Magoo one of the few “human” cartoon characters produced in Hollywood at the time – became the star.

Magoo went on to win two Academy Awards for the studio with When Magoo Flew (1955) and Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (1956).

In 1959, Mr. Magoo was seen in 1001 Arabian Nights, UPA’s first feature-length production.

After theatrical shorts, Magoo made his way to television in the 1960s.

The first animated Christmas special on American TV involved Magoo. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962), a musical adaption of Charles Dickens’ story, went on to become a huge hit and set the tradition of animated holiday specials.

The special inspired an animated TV series titled The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, in which Magoo blundered his way through classic literature and fairy tales. After an introduction in Magoo’s backstage dressing room, he played roles like The Count of Monte Cristo, Merlin in a retelling of King Arthur, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Friar Tuck in Robin Hood.

In the 1970s, Magoo appeared in a new Saturday morning CBS television series called What’s New, Mr. Magoo?

In recent times, Mr. Magoo also made an appearance in a live-action film. In 1997, Leslie Nielsen portrayed Magoo in a live-action Mr. Magoo feature film. The film did not find much success.

Old pop culture seems to be the flavor of the season. Apart from Magoo, the iconic Looney Tunes characters are set for a comeback as well. Warner Bros. plans to revive the Looney Tunes gang with a new 26-episode half-hour series on Cartoon Network in the fall.

All the Looney Tunes regulars will be there – Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will star and leave the woods to live as roommates in a modern cul-de-sac, while Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian and Porky Pig will be their neighbors.

The new TV series is likely to be broken into three six-minute stories, a two-minute Merrie Melodies component — and a two-minute Road Runner chase.

Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote will also return to theaters with a series of 3-D shorts. The first of these —  three have been approved and three are in development – will play before movie Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which is slated for a July 30, 2010, release.

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