WIDELY CONSIDERED the cream of the T.V. Christmas specials crop, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is for many a high point of the college year. By all estimates the Grinch ranks within the top ten Christmas Characters. But the Grinch and the residents of Whoville must now be placed on the endangered species list, since advertisers' depredations have reduced the once proud Grinch to a shadow of his former self. Commercials are slowly edging the Grinch off the air.
Each year, it seems, the Dr. Seuss tale is edited more and more in favor of commercials. This year such Grinch destruction was taken to an extreme. As reflected in the title, the central part of the story is how the Grinch actually steals Christmas. Perhaps the most enjoyable part is seeing the Grinch removing Christmas paraphenalia and sliming his way around the Who-houses. Most everyone harbors enough Scrooge-like thoughts to make this most satisfying. But most of this section wound up on the editing room floor. No more can children or any one else see our hero guiding the Who-electric-train into his bag.
TWO OR THREE VERSES of the Grinch song during these crucial scenes were eliminated. Since you were not able to enjoy these famous lines last Saturday night, a few are reprinted here: "You're a foul one Mister Grinch... You have termites in your smile... You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile." Would have been better in the show, huh?
Instead of cutting this classic Grinch material, they could have, God forbid, cut other parts more easily. The beginning part with the outlandish but stupid Who-toys with odd-sounding but easy-to-make-up names is possibly better left out. Little Cindy Lou Who who is (still) no more than two is not everyone's favorite character (too cute). And for die-hard Scrooges, the Grinch's self-righteous turn-around at the end is most unfortunate. But as this is the "message" of the story, maybe it has to stay.
It is ironic that this particular message has fallen victim to the commercial messages. The Grinch supposedly discovers that Christmas does not come from a package, that it is not all commercialism. But the network executives at ABC proved the Grinch dead-wrong, as they stole time from under him for just such commercialism: advertisements. Commercialization of holidays is always crass, but especially during the Grinch. Unfortunately this year's Grinch did show the true meaning of Christmas.