The green Grinch has been a favorite Christmas character since Dr. Seuss first published his story in 1957. Since that time, several productions based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas have been produced for the stage and screen. This year, NBC will be presenting three of them, which is a bit much.
Still considered the best of the bunch by many people, Chuck Jones’ animated special will be presented on Friday, November 27 and on Christmas night, both at 8 p.m. The beloved classic tale involves the schemes of the green and small-hearted Grinch to steal every material vestige of Christmas from the Whos living in the town of Whoville, but the Grinch ultimately discovers he can’t remove the spirit of Christmas from the hearts of the Whos. It features the voices of Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the narrator, as well as June Foray as Cindy Lou Who. The special is simple and to the point.
Oddly on Christmas, the network will follow the half-hour special with a presentation of Ron Howard’s live action movie from 2000 at 8:30 p.m. It takes the heart-warming story and stretches it longer than it needs to be by giving the Grinch a backstory and actually making him the hero of the story where the people of Whoville learn the lesson of good cheer from him.
While the movie does have its fans and Jim Carrey does an amazing job as The Grinch, the film is often overshadowed by its slapstick humor. The movie won an Oscar for best makeup too. In addition to Carrey, the film also stars Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon and is narrated by Anthony Hopkins.
On December 9 at 8 p.m., NBC is bringing the theatrical presentation of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical from the Troubadour Theatre in London. The special features Matthew Morrison in the role of the hairy beast with book and lyrics by Tim Mason and music by Mel Marvin.
“In what has been an extremely challenging year for us all, it is an honor to bring some holiday cheer into viewers’ homes this December,” says Morrison. “My wish is to bring some Who-ville magic to this holiday season and, while the pandemic presents some challenges in bringing a stage production to life, we are excited to present a unique version of this seasonal favorite in a new creative and imaginative way.”
Additional cast include Denis O’Hare as old Max (The Grinch’s dog), Booboo Stewart as young Max and Amelia Minto as Cindy-Lou Who. Producers have also assembled an ensemble of top musical theater actors from London’s West End to complete the cast.
Very little publicity has been presented about the new special which isn’t a good sign of the quality of the show, but then again, it was likely a last-minute addition to NBC’s holiday programming.
Personally, I prefer 2018’s full-length animated movie, The Grinch which featured the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch. It has all the heart of the original and then some and really hammers home the importance of taking care of others in the community. Unfortunately, NBC is not airing this movie as it is currently being offered on Netflix and probably your local Redbox.
(Main image: Universal Pictures)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.