Hangin' With the O.G. (the Original Grinch, That is) - Mania.com


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Hangin' With the O.G. (the Original Grinch, That is)

Plus: Buffy: Show Me The Money!; Upcoming Episodes

By Steve Ryfle     November 13, 2000

This weekend, the holiday movie bombardment kicks into high gear with Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and all our questions will be answered. Can affable Jim Carrey cut the mustard as the mean, green, Christmas-hating hermit? Can Ron Howard stretch an hour-long cartoon into a full-length movie? Will the film have that great song ('You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch'), and who the hell will sing it? And, will we all learn the true meaning of Christmas?

You know you're going to see the flick, because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an American myth, a pop-culture paragon that's ingrained into the collective consciousness of several generations. But in this day and age, when the old holiday TV specials are looked upon as hand-me-downsand they often air only way, way up on the cable TV dial (remember the olden daze, when they were prime-time staples?)I fear that the younger generations are missing out on something that, after all these eons, is still damn good. Therefore, in the days preceding this weekend's Event Movie, I hereby give you a homework assignment: Go watch Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

You've got no excuse not to. It airs tonight (Monday) on the Cartoon Network at 8 p.m.; failing that, get thee to a video store and rentno, buythe videotape or DVD. Every decent American citizen with a respectable disposable income should own this half-hour masterpiece, which stands alongsideno, in front ofThe Nightmare Before Christmas as the scariest and most touching Christmas fable ever set to music and animation. What, you don't think The Grinch is scary? Then you're a braver soul than I.

Boris Karloff does a magnificently blood-curdling job of narration, reading straight from the Dr. Seuss book from which this thing was adapted. Have you ever tried reading Green Eggs and Ham or Horton Hears a Who to your kids? Seuss' tongue-tripping infantile rhymes are unsettling enough on their own, but Karloff's sinister deadpan is downright creepy. Then there's those weirdos from Whoville, with their oddball toys, their roast beast dinner and their New Age optimism ('Hey, stupid! You just got robbed blind! Be sad!'). Luckily, there's the Grinch's dog, Max, with that branch tied to his head to disguise him as a reindeer, adding some much-needed levity to the proceedings.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas first aired in 1966, a year after A Charlie Brown Christmas, and both cartoons share the same essential message: Commercialism is threatening to diminish the true meaning of Christmas, but children (exemplified by Linus in the former 'toon, and Cindy Lou in Grinch), in their infinite wisdom, still know what the holiday spirit is all about (yeah, right). The Grinch is an old grouch, afflicted with a grotesquely tiny heart, who lives high in the hills above Whoville, scowling at the Christmas-loving villagers below. He puts a Santa suit on, sneaks into town by night, steals everyone's goodies, then goes home to listen to everyone cry in their egg nog the next morning. Surprise! The residents of Whoville don't give a rat's bum about DVD players and Nintendos and Pokemon after all (again: yeah, right), they simply rejoice for the sake of rejoicing. Ol' Grinchy is truly touched, and he finally gets a little love in his heart, which grows to normal size.

The original How the Grinch Stole Christmas was directed by the great Chuck Jones, and in addition to Karloff's work, it also features the vocal stylings of Thurl Ravenscroft, a great voice actor and singer who belts out the signature song. Warners has released a digitally enhanced DVD that is highly recommended, with interviews with composer Albert Hague and singer Ravenscroft, plus commentary by animator Phil Roman and actress June Foray, who played Cindy Lou Who.

Interesting trivia you may not already know (then again, maybe you do): There are two versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas available on video. The other one, produced in 1957, is a series of still-frames from the Dr. Seuss book, with narration by Walter Matthau. An interesting curio, but not nearly as cool or scary as the real deal.

Merry Grinchmas!

Buffy: Show Me The Money!

The Entertainment Weekly Website (www.ew.com) is reporting that the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer want more moola. When they negotiate a contract renewal this coming January, the Buffy folks plan to ask the WB Network for a production budget of $2 million per episode, about twice what the show costs now. If the WB won't play, then Buffy and the vampire gang may turn into bats and fly off to another networksomething they've been threatening to do for about a year now. One of the primary suitors is expected to be ABC. 'To be honest, there has always been a suspicion that The WB didn't quite get it,' actor Anthony Stewart Head, who plays Giles, is quoted as saying.

Upcoming Episodes

* On the latest Roswell (WB, Monday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), 'After making all the humans disappear and turning Roswell into a ghost town, the Skins capture and torture Max (Jason Behr), Isabel (Katherine Heigl), Michael (Brendan Fehr) and Tess (Emilie de Ravin) to discover the location of the granilith, resulting in the death of one of the aliens.'

* On this week's Buffy The Vampire Slayer (WB, Tuesday @ 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central), 'In an effort to learn about slayers' final battles, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) forces Spike (James Marsters) to recount how he was able to kill two slayers. His flashbacks reveal his first meeting with his one true love, Drusilla (guest star Juliet Landau), and how lovers Angel (guest star David Boreanaz) and Darla (guest star Julie Benz) joined them.'

* The Dark Angel gravy train keeps rolling this week (FOX, Tuesday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central). 'Could a mysterious ad lead Max to her long lost brother? Plus, Logan's ex-wife reappears with less than honorable intentions.'

* Check out the latest Charmed (WB, Thursday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), when 'Cole (Julian McMahon) uses petty anger between Prue (Shannen Doherty), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) and Piper (Holly Marie Combs) to break their bond and destroy the very foundation of their powers, leaving the sisters defenseless against attack.'

* In a new episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (WB, Friday @ 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central), 'Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) is distraught when she receives her first 'C' ever on a class assignment and turns to Zelda (Beth Broderick) for counseling, but Zelda ends up conducting her own private tutoring session with Sabrina's handsome professor (guest star David Starzyk).' Followed by a repeat episode.


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