Dr. Suess Classics

Memories of Dr. Suess on television!
September 16, 2008
It's been a really long time since I've written any articles, and I guess it was because I couldn't think of anything to write about for a while, but now, I've come up with something to talk about.

What kid of the 20th century did not grow up with Dr. Suess? He's written some of the greatest childrens books of all time. Many people know him for his art styles and wacky rhyming phrases.

What I'm going to be discussing in this article is about the classic Dr. Suess stories that were adapted into TV specials. There were only a few of them, but I'm going to give my honest thoughts on them according to the best of my knowledge. I'm not going to talk about Bob Clampet's version of "Horton Hatches the Egg", because that one was a theatrical release and part of the Looney Tunes series.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

This was the first official Dr. Suess cartoon released in 1966, and it's often considered the most classic to a lot of people. Many watch this religiously around the holidays. I'm sure we've all seen it numerous times, so I feel there's no need to say anything about it.

In 2000, this classic was remade into a live-action movie directed by Ron Howard, and the Grinch was played by famous comedian, Jim Carrey. While the movie did get some bad reviews from some critics, a lot of youngsters found this movie to be even better than the original version. I'm not entirely sure on how Dr. Suess really wanted the Grinch to be potrayed as, but if you were going to adapt his book into a movie or TV special, it depends on what actor he's played by. If it's someone like Jim Carrey, he'll be a fall-down funny comedy relief character, and if someone like Boris Karloff potrays him, he'll be synically evil.

Horton Hears a Who

Released in 1970, this was the second of the Dr. Suess specials. "Horton" and "The Grinch" were the only two of these that were directed by Chuck Jones. This one features the voice tallents of Hans Conried, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft and even Chuck Jones himself. It's basically about an elephant named Horton who hears a cry for help on a speck of dust and hears that there's a whole world on that speck, but nobody else in the jungle believes him and are being mean to him.

This was also made into a movie in 2008. This version was computer animated and featured the voice tallents of Jim Carrey, Steve Carrell and Carol Burnett. I, myself, found this movie to be very well-made, and it definately took the original version to a whole new level.

The Cat in the Hat

Based on one of Dr. Suess' most recognized stories, this 1971 classic is actually quite different from the book. The Cat in the Hat is voiced by musician, Alan Sherman in this feature. There are some parts of the film that are kind of scary, but the majority of it contains nothing but classic, memorable moments.

This one was also adapted into a live-action movie in 2003, once again directed by Ron Howard, and Mike Myers potrayed the title character. Unlike "The Grinch", this movie got lots of negative feedback. I, myself, found the movie to be a disaster since it was incredibly different from the cartoon version, and that's interesting because almost everybody I know who has seen this movie and thought it sucked claim that they've never seen the original cartoon version! Audrey Geisel (Dr. Suess' wife) herself claimed that she was disgusted by the film and stated that no more live-action adaptions would be made of her husband's books. There are a few Suess classics, however, that I think are worthy of becoming movies (live-action or CG would work for me).

The Lorax

1972's "The Lorax", of all the Dr. Suess cartoons was, in my opinion, the scariest one. It's about a guy named Once-ler who finds these trees called Trufula trees and wants to use them so that he could build a factory and make things out of them known as "thneeds". Of course, the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, does everything he can to stop the Once-ler by reminding him about the awful stuff he's doing to the forest, but he doesn't listen. It features the voice tallents of Bob Holt and Eddie Albert. This one scared me so much because it was so dark and dramatic, and it reminded me of the environment and the dangers of pollution.

This is one Dr. Suess story that I think should get made into a movie. If it were to happen, I think the darkness should probably be toned down a little bit so that kids could actually get some enjoyment out of it. As far as acting goes, I think Johnny Depp would be good as the voice of the Once-ler, but the Lorax, I'm not really sure; Jon Lovitz or Robin Williams might be some good choices, but I'm sure there are some who can come up with better actors than me.

Dr. Suess On the Loose

This 1973 special contained three seperate features based on different Dr. Suess stories. Before each one is a song performed by the Cat in the Hat. Alan Sherman is back doing the voice of the Cat, but this was sadly Sherman's last acting role before he died.

The first part is "The Sneetches", which I'd have to say is one of my all-time favorite Dr. Suess cartoons. "The Sneetches" is really the show's big gem since it takes the book to a whole new level with some of the catchiest songs ever mixed in. It's narrated by Hans Conried, it features Bob Holt as the voice of Sylvester McMonkey McBean, and running at 12 minutes, it's the longest of the three segments.

This feature showed Suess' point of view on racism, and since I'm one who doesn't believe in racism, I totally support the doctor's work on this. One thing I've always wondered about this short is where do the Sneetches get all that money to pay McBean with?

This is a Dr. Suess classic that I think should definately be made into a movie; if they could bring the book to a whole new level by making something like this, then they could do even better with another adaption!

In the second segment, "The Zax", we have these two, uh...Zax, one walking due North and another walking due South. They both happen to be right in each other's paths and bump into each other. They spend a few minutes arguing with each other and decide to solve their problem by just standing in place and not moving. I don't really see a moral to this story, but I'm sure there is a good one. Thankfully, this segment is only 3 minutes long, because I don't think kids could take much more than that of something like this.

The third and final segment is based on one of Dr. Suess' most classic books ever, "Green Eggs and Ham". This is also a great segment, and like "The Sneetches", it takes the book to a whole new level. Also, the voice talent of Paul Winchel adds to the humor. This 8 minute number is definately a classic among Suess classics. This made for a perfect finale, although "The Sneetches" probably would have too, but I think "The Zax" belonged in the middle.

The Hoober-Bloob Highway

"Hoober-Bloob Highway" is kind of a strange one. Unlike the previous features, this 1975 classic wasn't based on a book; Dr. Suess specifically wrote this one for TV. In this feature, Mr. Hoober-Bloob, a dispatcher from a laboratory in space, decides to send one of his characters down his highway to Earth, but first, he gives the character a chance to decide for himself whether he wants the life of a human. Mr. Hoober-Bloob shows him the realistic problems and pleasures humans and imaginary creatures face. The story suggests that while things may be pretty bad, there's always something to be thankful for. While the story does teach a good lesson, this is one I feel should not be made into a movie and just be left alone.

Halloween is Grinch Night

For the Grinch's second appearance in 1977, it's Halloween night, and it's time for the Grinch to go on the prowl. Everyone in Whoville is scared of the Grinch and finds it to be the most awful time of year. However, one Who, named Ukariah, decides to go up Mount Crumpet and prove that he's not afraid of the Grinch. This one features Hans Conried as the voice of the Grinch (if you watch one of the Dr. Suess cartoons, you'll very likely hear either Hans Conried or Thurl Ravenscroft).

This feature is not very well-known, and while it is considered a sequel to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", I do find a lot of continuity issues in it. I thought at the end of the Christmas one, the Grinch changed his mind about Christmas and became friends with the Who's. In this one, however, the Who's are all scared of him again. Well, I wouldn't analyze another cartoon like this for 63 dollars and 60 cents.

Ponteffel Pock, Where Are You?

If you're looking for the most bizarre Dr. Suess film, then look no further. This show, released in 1980, is the weirdest of them all. In this one, Pontoffel Pock is an everyday person who had just been fired from his job at a pickle factory, and he wishes that he could get away from it all. He then, suddenly, meets this fairy named McGillicuddy who gives him this magical flying piano. The rest of the film kinda speaks for itself, but believe me, it's weird. I'm actually one who actually tried to play those famous piano notes (C, C, C, D, D#, E) to see if my piano could become a flying machine, but unfortunately, it doesn't work.

The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat

This is the first time we ever get to see both of Dr. Suess' most beloved characters together in the same feature! Of all the Dr. Suess cartoons, this one (released in 1982) is probably my favorite one. It features Bob Holt as the Grinch and Mason Adams as the Cat. Basically, the Grinch has gone out into the world to prove that he's a Grinch. He happens to encounter the Cat in the Hat who has gone out on a picnic.

After being unintentionally insulted, the Grinch gets revenge on the Cat by using some bizzare gadgets he's invented to humiliate him. Eventually, the Grinch ends up causing a lot of chaos, which to me was actually entertaining to watch. Usually segments like that would have scary, suspensful, nightmarish music, but here, it plays some upbeat Dixieland music, which really lightens the mood.

Eventually, the Cat decides to take the whole town over to un-Grinch the Grinch by singing a tear-jerking song to him about his mother. After seeing both of Ron Howard's Dr. Suess movies, I thought it would be awesome if he made this one into a movie and have both Jim Carrey (as the Grinch) and Mike Myers (as the Cat in the Hat) star in it! That would be so awesome if it did happen (regardless of what Audrey Geisel said)!

The Butter Battle Book

"The Butter Battle Book" was a story written by Dr. Suess during the Cold War. It basically showed his visions on war. This was adapted into a cartoon feature in 1989. The story is about these two cultures called the Yooks and the Zooks. The Yooks eat their bread with their butter-side up, while the Zooks eat their bread with their butter-side down. The conflict between the two sides leads to an arms race, each competing to make bigger and better weapons to outdo the other; the Zooks always seemed to outsmart the Yooks. Of course, the book's position regarding the arms race caused the book to be removed from many libraries, and also, many people in the Soviet Union were offended by it. I don't mean to sound like I'm giving away the ending, but the story ends with a cliffhanger.

Daisy-Head Mayzie

Dr. Suess wrote a book called "Daisy-Head Mayzie", which wasn't published until 1995, four years after his death. A TV special was released around the same time as the book and was broadcasted on TNT. This one is about a girl named Mayzie Magroo who somehow got a daisy growing out of her head. It features the Cat in the Hat as the narrator who also helps out Mayzie in the story. It starts off with Mayzie thinking that she's a freak, but she later finds out that she's actually special.

Well, there you go, my fellow nostalgics.
My article has come to an end.
I hope this retrospective of Suess
turned out real good, my friend.
A fond childhood memory article.
My first in a long time.
But now, I think I should wrap things up.
I suck at making a rhyme!
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