“Sport Goofy in Soccermania,” a new special airing on NBC tonight at 8, brings some of the classic Disney characters to the screen in a lame comedy-adventure that’s neither comedic nor adventurous.

After the fine animation of Goofy, Scrooge McDuck and the gang in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983), “Sport Goofy” looks like an amateur production. Director Matt O’Callaghan doesn’t seem to have given the artists any sense of the characters’ personalities or how they should move.

During the ‘40s and ‘50s, Goofy starred in a popular and very funny series of “How-To” cartoons about various sports that juxtaposed a polished narration with broad physical comedy. As the elegant narrator extolled the grace and finesse the game required, Goofy would careen down the field, tripping over his own feet. Viewers expecting the same sort of freewheeling high jinks--which the title suggests--will be sorely disappointed.

“Soccermania” miscasts Goofy as a superb athlete who turns an unskilled team into the city champions. When Scrooge McDuck inadvertently donates a valuable trophy to the Duckberg soccer league, he decides to sponsor the team, with Huey, Dewey, Louie and Goofy, hoping they’ll win it back. The crooked Beagle Boys organize their own team and try to cheat their way to the trophy, but lose to the Good Guys in the last seconds of the championship game.


“Rocky and Bullwinkle” used a similar premise with hilarious results in “The Mud City Maulers,” but “Soccermania” falls flat. The predictable story is further burdened by some heavy-handed moralizing: “If you play fair and work together as a team, anyone can become No. 1!” Goofy as philosopher?

While the animation itself is superior to the average television special, “Soccermania” is sadly lacking in the excellence normally associated with a Disney cartoon.