I caught How the Grinch Stole Christmas on the Cartoon Network with my girl tonight. Like most of the planet, it’s one of my perennial holiday favorites and I never miss the chance to watch it at least once every Christmas season. I’ve worked hard to get my kids hooked on the classics like this one as well as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and (cult-favorite) A Year without a Santa Claus. If you’re within ten years of my age in either direction, you should be able to recite any line from any character from any of these shows. Or, unlike me, you were not watching enough television.
But tonight, we’re talking about the TV Grinch, which is forty-five years old this year. Or rather WHO is forty-five years old. And speaking of Whos, how hideously adorable were those little creatures? Sort of like how an ugly pug puppy somehow manages to be cute. I have to think Cindy Lou Who grew up to win a great many beauty contests in Whoville. She was precious and looked nothing like her fellow townspeople. Of course, that could have also been exactly the kind of thing to make her an outcast. Perhaps she was the Marilyn Munster of her infinitesimal little neighborhood.
Yes, I said infinitesimal.
Because, as we learned in Seuss/Geisel’s earlier Horton Hears a Who! (published in 1954, a few years earlier than the original Grinch book in 1957), the entire community of Whoville was actually located on a speck of dust. The writers sort of dropped that detail when the Christmas special was adapted from his books. Seriously, how menacing would this “Grinch” be when you realized you needed a microscope to see his dastardly deeds?
Still, he managed to be a pretty scary dude to me as a child. Never mind the fact that he was voiced by Frankenstein himself, Boris Karloff. The first few times you watched the show and you didn’t know what was coming, you were thinking … This isn’t a Christmas show. This is a horror film. Why are my parents letting me watch this terrifying, dentally-challenged Yeti wreak his terror on the sweet, unwitting, holiday spirit-filled residents in the valley below? And then, towards the end, the Grinch finally smiled and you saw that he had eyelashes … and dimples, albeit ugly ones. And that overly frou-frou brass frame that illustrated the size of his tiny heart is busted when it explodes with his newfound holiday cheer. So finally more relaxed, you were able to exhale and unclench, and you thought … Okay, my parents aren’t as irresponsible as I feared. I will now be able to sleep at night, knowing that Max didn’t fall to his untimely death off the side of Mount Crumpit. That would have been an absolutely terrible thing for a child to see.
Of course, there are some other little details and bits of trivia about the show I wanted to mention. (It wouldn’t be an ODNT entry without a list lately, right?) …
The opening song in the show is called ‘Welcome Christmas.’ I think my brother and I just always called it ‘Pahoo Doray.’ Ah, Seuss and his delightfully inventive vocabulary. Here’s just one version of the lyrics I found for the song. http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/dr_seuss/welcome_christmas-lyrics-1146415.html
Of course, the most renowned song from the special is ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.’ Also know as the second song on my iPod’s Christmas playlist. It was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, who was accidentally uncredited for this ridiculously memorable work as well as for his work as the original voice for Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. For fifty years. Stupid early Hollywood robbed this old man. I feel sorry for him and, if he were here, I would give him a hug.
Even more interesting vocal work comes from June Foray, who did the voice for Cindy Lou Who. Dubbed (yes, I picked that word on purpose) the female Mel Blanc, this woman has done the voices of Rocky (Rocky & Bullwinkle), Granny (Warner Brothers) and Karen (Frosty the Snowman … Frosty! That’s another good one.) And she was the voice of the original ‘Chatty Cathy’ doll.
Oh, and I stole this quote directly from Wikipedia … A television special called Halloween Is Grinch Night, a prequel created by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, aired on ABC in 1977, 11 years after the Christmas special. This special involved a tale of the Grinch coming down to scare the Whos every Halloween. Though less successful than the original, it was awarded an Emmy. …….. I would so love to see his undoubtedly crappy prequel.
And my last comment for the night … not because I’m really finished here but because I’m tapped out for the day … does anyone remember fearing a mustard-colored grinch from their childhood? When did this weasel become green? Was it just my maladjusted television set as a youth? Mom? Dad?