Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, CBS (reruns on ABC)
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What to say? I sometimes like to call this "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." But that's just silly. Um... anyway, it's based on a Dr. Seuss book, of course, though I don't think I ever read it. The animated Christmas special is from 1966 (which is before my time, of course). It originally aired on CBS, which was still airing it each year when I was a kid, but these days you're more likely to see it on ABC, or Cartoon Network. Anyway, it's definitely one of the best Christmas specials ever. I love all the music, especially the iconic song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (which is sung by Thurl Ravenscroft). The special is narrated by Boris Karloff, who also provides the voice of the Grinch. I suppose for many years I must have assumed he also sang that one song, but I was wrong. But I gotta say, it's cool for the special to be narrated by Karloff (an old-school horror actor), and Ravenscroft... well, I don't know him so well, but I mean, can you imagine a cooler name than Thurl Ravenscroft? Especially singing that song, with a voice like James Earl Jones, sounding like he should be in some old-school horror movies (though oddly, he's best known for voicing Tony the Tiger, and voice work in Disney movies and such). I should also mention that the special was directed by Chuck Jones, which I suppose explains why the look of the animation, and some of the incidental music, are somewhat reminiscent of old Warner Bros. cartoons.
Anyway... being a Dr. Seuss story, of course there's all kinds of funny rhyming going on, with all kinds of silly made-up words. And, um, there are these people or whatever, called Whos, who all live in Who-ville, and they all love Christmas. But on a mountain outside of Who-ville lives a creature called the Grinch, who hates Christmas, perhaps because his heart is two sizes too small. But whatever, he just hates all the noise the Whos make in celebrating Christmas, especially their joyful singing.
So, he comes up with a plan. He dresses up like Santa Claus, and ties a horn on the head of his little dog, Max, who pulls a ramshackle sleigh down into Who-ville. There, the Grinch proceeds to steal all the Whos' presents and food and decorations and everything. He's interrupted, briefly, by a two-year-old Who girl named Cindy Lou, but he lies to her about what he's doing. Then he drives his sleigh, loaded with all the Whos' stuff, up to the top of Mt. Crumpit, to get rid of it.
And I don't really want to spoil the exact details of how it ends, on the absurd chance that anyone out there hasn't already seen the special at least a dozen times. I'll just say that the Grinch is looking forward to hearing the Whos crying, but it just doesn't turn out like he planned, but rather... something stirring, inspirational, heart-warming happens. Something which would never, ever, happen in real life. Not in this day and age, no sir. I can't watch this special without thinking how utterly impossible it would be. Nevertheless, all those nice adjectives I used before apply. And it causes the Grinch to have an Ebenezer Scrooge-like transformation. Yep, very happy ending. And I guess that's all there is to say.
The story was adapted into a live-action movie, The Grinch, in 2000. It has also been parodied in various holiday specials and episodes.