The Grinch Who Stole Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For this release of Grinch, they got it right.
Sharpness seemed solid. No issues with delineation ever arose in this tight and concise presentation. I also failed to detect any signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. The disc came almost totally free from source flaws. Other than a couple of small specks, the show looked very clean.
Colors excelled. The program offered a lot of bright primary hues and reproduced them well. These were tight and lively at all times. Blacks seemed dense and firm, while shadows looked clear and appropriate. Overall, I found much to like in this terrific presentation.
The monaural audio of Grinch was less pleasing. Music consistently sounded clean and reasonably vibrant; low end was lacking, but the general tone seemed fair. Both dialogue and effects were decent but usually flat and blah; there's a plainness to them that lacked treble and crispness. Boris Karloff’s narration sounded especially distant and wasn’t particularly natural. The Grinch audio seemed acceptable for material from the Sixties, but don’t expect much from them.
This DVD replicates the 2008 Deluxe Edition. Dr. Seuss and the Grinch: From Whoville to Hollywood runs 15 minutes, 42 seconds as it mixes program clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from author Kathleen Krull, “The Art of Dr. Seuss” curator Bill Dreyer, widows Audrey Geisel and Marian Jones, Dr. Seuss Rhymes and Reasons author Peter Jones, animation producer Paul Dini, and Seuss’ stepdaughter Lark Dimond-Cates. The show offers notes about Dr. Seuss’s life and career as well as info about his creations. We also learn a little about the TV adaptation of Grinch.
Some good details pop up here, though the format grates. In addition to lots of extraneous comments from various cute moppets, narration comes in the form of a dreadful rap tune. The show’s worth the look, but that rap makes me want to smash my TV.
A glorified form of chapter search, Song Selections lets you jump straight to any of the show's four tunes ("Opening Song", "Trim Up the Tree", "Welcome, Christmas", and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"). There’s also a “Play All” option to allow you to check out all four in sequence.
Pencil Test provides three sketches of the Grinch, while Who's Who In Whoville gives us brief biographies of director Chuck Jones, writer Dr. Seuss, and actors Boris Karloff and June Foray.
Next we find a TNT special about How the Grinch Stole Christmas that lasts 19 minutes and 15 seconds. Hosted by Phil Hartman, this 1995 program provides an excessively-cutesy but generally solid overview of The Grinch. We see then-new interviews with Chuck Jones, Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" singer Thurl Ravenscroft, song composer Albert Hague, Grinch fans Tim Burton and Danny Elfman plus bits from Hartman and some archival footage from the production. In addition to his narration that connects the other segments and relates the story's history, Hartman offers "demonstrations" of animation technique and other aspects of filmmaking that are likely unknown to most of the public but will be very basic to more knowledgeable movie fans. Anyway, the show's clearly oriented toward a younger crowd, but it's a fairly fun and mildly informative piece.
Entitled Songs In the Key of Grinch, the next piece offers a collection of additional interviews with Hague and Ravenscroft. In these eight minutes worth of clips - which do not appear to be outtakes from the prior special - we learn a little more about their careers and their involvement in Grinch. It's a nice little addition to the material in the longer show.
We also get an audio commentary from animator Phil Roman and voice actor June Foray. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. Since the show only lasts 26 minutes, there's not a whole lot of depth to their comments. Frankly it's a disappointment the track doesn't feature Jones instead, but I found this piece to be generally enjoyable. Roman provides the most actual information, although Foray chimes in with some solid historical perspective as well. It's not a great commentary, but it's a nice addition that deserves a listen.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the “Classic Christmas Favorites” collection. In addition, the disc includes trailers for Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, Jack Frost, The Polar Express and Fred Claus.
The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (24:17):
In this 1982 special, the Grinch (voiced by Bob Holt) wakes up in a good mood for once. However, his inner Grinch reminds him that he’s not supposed to be cheerful, so the Grinch sets out to be as Grinchy as possible.
At the same time, the Cat in the Hat (Mason Adams) decides to picnic. He parks his car in a way that blocks traffic and makes the Grinch even angrier. Determined to get back at the Cat, the Grinch uses a device that manipulates sound however he desires. We watch as the Grinch torments his feline foe – and works toward his inevitable change of heart.
On the surface, the notion of a crossover between the two most famous Dr. Seuss characters sounds fun – and Grinches could’ve been entertaining. However, the special suffers from such consistently bland execution that any potential pleasure gets buried beneath the rampant mediocrity.
Not that this makes it a bad show, as it offers a perfectly tolerable 24 minutes. It just never threatens to be anything more than “kinda sorta okay”. The vocal performances are passable, the songs are decent, and the pacing is workable.
And that’s all. The show keeps you with it to a minor degree but you never feel much investment in it. The Grinch/Cat dynamic fails to ignite any sparks, and little about the piece demonstrates the cleverness and wit we expect from a Dr. Seuss work. This ends up as an entirely mediocre special.