Hello, and welcome to another Nyperold liveblog! This time, I've set my sights on Seuss Celebration, a series of 9 televised animated Dr. Seuss stories, at least some of which were adapted from his books. Some I've seen, but none in years; some, I've read the books for, but never seen the animated version; others, I didn't even know existed.
I'll be doing this by menu order, so let's jump on in with The Cat in the Hat.
The submenu lets us view the song sequences, features one of the songs in sing-along form, and lets us choose the language for the subtitles: English, Spanish, or French, or we can turn it off. Of course, it also lets us play the story, so that's what I'm going to do.
Universal Studios sequence...
Some drops of dark liquid are falling in a black space, splattering on the surface below. A tone plays as each drop strikes. A large drop falls,but instead of splattering, forms into a circle, and is replaced by an orange-yellow circle with a large gray center. On the yellow portion, "A CAT IN THE HAT" is written, identifying the character whose, head, shoulders, and signature hat are in the gray portion. The word "PRESENTATION" appears in the bottom part of the yellow area, and the character's eyes close as his tie spins. We hear a voice: "The Cat in the Hat presents..." The cat's hat compresses vertically, then straightens up. "...Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat." Fade to black.
Now we see the top of the cat's hat, including a little of the first white stripe, against an orange-yellow background. The title appears in the red section. We move down so the white is in the top of the screen, and the next red section is in the bottom.
- VOICE OF THE CAT
- ALLAN SHERMAN
Down some more...
- MUSIC BY
- DEAN ELLIOTT
- PRODUCTION DESIGN BY
- MAURICE NOBLE
- DIRECTED BY
- HAWLEY PRATT
- PRODUCED BY
- CHUCK JONES
- TED GEISEL
...and down to the brim resting on a surface.
- EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
- DAVID H. DePATIE
- FRIZ FRELENG
Fade to black.
It's raining, and there's thunder and lightning, as well. It's too cold and wet to play outside, so the girl and boy sit boredly as they look out the window. Their mother announces her departure, tells them to have fun, and says she'll return at 3:30 sharp. They turn back to the window as she leaves. They watch the umbrella pass, and when that's done, they're left to wish for something to do. A song asks how you can have fun (to the same tune as the water drops earlier); meanwhile, their fish gazes into a room full of indoor toys, books, and even some crayons. He seems puzzled that they're bored with all that stuff that they could be occupying themselves with, but I suppose it's akin to being hungry, yet looking into the refrigerator and pantry and finding nothing you want to eat.
Suddenly, a bump jolts them from their ennui! Their door opens, and a brown umbrella sticks through and closes before withdrawing, there's a brief glimpse of a hat, then one foot wipes on the mat, then the other, and finally, the cat himself stands on the mat. The kids are amazed, and identify the nature and attire of the creature. The cat makes a point of pointing out that he's neat, for he wiped his feet on the mat. His forward motion kicks the mat up and over him, where it lands on the fishbowl. He skateboards past the children and around a small table with a vase on it. He makes it wobble, but, after exiting through one side of the room and in through the other, he steadies it. He finally opens his umbrella, using it as a drag chute. Having stopped, he closes it, and slides the skateboard away. He asks the children why they sit there like that. He is aware of the weather not being conducive to play, but he can't see — here, the fish starts to tell him off, but doesn't get far — why they'd sit there like that. He knows some games they could play, and some great tricks. The fish seems quite brave here, first in speaking to a cat (of all things) in such a way, but mostly removing himself from the water to do so. The cat is certain their mother won't mind, and he's itching to show them to them. The kids seem to get over their trepidation of him at this point.
Now, the fish leaps completely out of the water to tell him to leave. The cat realizes that they haven't met. The fish's name is Carlos K. Krinklebine. He asks the cat to leave again, and says he shouldn't be there when their mother is not. He leaps back in. The cat assures Carlos that his tricks are safe. Carlos blows bubbles, but the cat only stacks them, compresses them, and places the bowl on the top one. The bubbles uncompress and hold the bowl aloft. This he calls "Up, Up, Up, With A Fish". The tower sways, and Carlos tells the cat to put him down. The fish has started praying. The cat pops the bubbles from top to the bottom, but each of the bubbles has sequentially got him. The fish repeats his earlier warning. The cat puts his presence up to the children. The girl notices that he's making the house a little dirty, and the boy recalls her projected return at 3:30. At this, the cat bows to the voice of the majority, and claims to be going to Siberia. (Is that his intent, or merely a ploy to, well, change the minds of the girl and the boy?) He's not out a second, when, rushing back in, he claims that something of his was stolen. The item in question? A family grudunza, three-handled, covered in moss. He decides nobody's going to leave the room until he finds it. The boy asks for a repeat of the non-moss-related aspects of the thing, and gets it. Carlos merely hmphs, which draws suspicion from the cat. He doesn't answer the cat's question, but the cat switches to forlorn over his loss, and says things will never be the same. He plays a sad song about losing it. The kids are stunned, but the fish is waiting impatiently. If the song is to be believed, a grudunza is hung on a tree. He goes over to a stool and continues to lament the theft, and say the fish did it. The kids urge him to give it back, but the fish finally denies it. The cat sings another about its loss.
The fish asks what one is. The cat says they come in all styles, from triple-G to minus-aught. The boy begins to ask if it's bigger than something, but before he can name a basis for comparison, the cat says it occasionally is, but mostly not. The girl starts to ask if it's smaller than something, but before she can name a basis for comparison, the cat claims it's been discontinued (could you theoretically still have one?), but one family grudunza is always smaller than another. (This would seem to suggest an infinite quantity of family grudunzas, each a different size, with the unspecified object larger than the vast majority. Because that's somehow possible...?) The cat starts to sing "Auld Lang Syne", replacing "acquaintance" with "family grudunzas". Halfway through "mind", however, he decides to try to figure out where a fish would hide a moss-covered three-handled family grudunza. (Y'know, "grudunza" is starting to look like it's not a word anym—OHWAIT.) He checks inside the piano, and under the rug. The boy checks the toy chest, presumably for anything unfamiliar, tossing things aside. The girl checks the dresser, doing the same. The boy checks the closet. The cat decides to speed up the search. The fish checks... the unabridged dictionary, and the word isn't there, but he's willing to find it if it'll get rid of the cat.
The cat figures there are more scientific methods of searching, specifically the principle of calculatus eliminatus, which he studied at Cat Tech. The fish recommends he make use of it and "eliminatus" himself. The cat sings about its use. Basically, once you've figured out where it isn't, where it is becomes clear. It isn't in a painting, so he marks it "X". It isn't on a lampshade, so he marks it "Y". I suppose it's a good way not to look the same place twice, but then you have to clean up after or face writing on stuff. It's not under the apple, so it gets the marking "HKI". It isn't in the keyhole, or on the girl's knee, so the former gets K300, while the knee gets 57B. The fish looks on in horror. The fireplace gets 842J, while the empty... liquor cabinet? gets F607 and the piano, 22,000.11. The icebox lacks it, which the cat says is strange, and it's not on the TV. Icebox, 024 1/2, TV, 1,000,003. Now the kids start labeling objects without being prompted: the windowshade gets 9-1-0, while another cabinet gets 8B-X and the fishbowl gets 42-0.
The fish tells them to look at the house. He wipes the 42-0 off his bowl. He's had it with the cat, and repeats a previous warning. The cat starts to slink away, before singing about how nobody loves him. At one point, he calls himself a "griffulous, groffulous grue" (emphasis mine), which makes me glad the house is not pitch black, as they would likely otherwise be eaten by him. The fish is more and more insistent that he leave, but the cat just thinks he need a tranquilizer. The cat tries a song (to the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer") that he thinks will soothe him, and indeed, it seems to be working, despite the awful lyrics and the fish's best efforts. (Notably, the words call him a "kitten fish", "predicting" the silliness of a certain animal rights group by a few decades.)
The three remaining slip off to the kitchen, where the cat decides he needs help finding his moss-covered family grudunza. He paces a bit, and takes off his hat, under which is another hat. He reaches into the one he took off, and extracts a small pink box. In his hand, it grows to about half the cat's height. He says that Thing One and Thing Two will come out, and he's certain they'll be able to find it. He sings a song about their abilities and opens the box. They are white (literally, not "white" as in the color in the set of normal skin colors, but actually white) with some variety of blue hair, and red bodysuits, each with a white circle within, bearing their respective numbers in black. They immediately rush into the living room, singing about how there's always a fish who "doesn't like fun". Yeah, so it's a wonderful idea of theirs to wake him up and spin his fishbowl on a stick instead of doing what they can while he's sleeping. They toss the bowl in the air, leaving the boy to catch it while they grab hands and do something like a cartwheel. The fish leaps from his bowl, goes to the phone, and calls the FBI on the Cat in the Hat. When he can't get anyone, he smacks the receiver a few times. One of the Things opens the end you speak into and pops his head out, telling him that line is temporarily out of order. The fish gets back in his bowl. Thing Two takes the bowl and sldes it across the floor, continuing the song. Basically, they're bowling with the bowl, breaking bottles as the kids look on, horrified. The cat sings about how they can find anything. (Then freaking set them to it!) One of the Things flies the fishbowl with string around it. It's somehow got lift, despite being badly shaped for it.
The Thing runs through a doorway, with the fishbowl heading for the lintel. The boy leaps up and pulls it down, preventing impact. He holds it, looking around. A Thing greets him from atop the refrigerator. He grabs the fishbowl with thanks. The other comes up behind that Thing, and the one with the fishbowl hikes it to him. The Thing who now has the fishbowl goes back, back, back... and falls backwards down the stairs. (Is it all right for me to hope the bowl breaks and he gets injured with a shard so he can maybe learn something about his behavior?) Unfortunately, the Thing comes back up intact, with the bowl and a hockey stick. The other Thing has one, too, and they pass the bowl back and forth as they go across the kitchen floor. The boy tries to block them, but is unsuccessful.
He runs back through and sees a Thing dribbling the fishbowl like a basketball, then shooting it through the arms of the other Thing. The boy catches it, but it gains forward momentum, and it slides back, bouncing off of things, and slides past the girl and the cat. Meanwhile, the cat sings that if you're nervous, or you house is topsy-turvis, they'll be at your service. (Funny, so far the only things I've seen them do would cause those two conditions.) The cat wraps up that song.
The fish hops out of the bowl and kicks the umbrella tip that the cat is leaning on, sending him falling. While he's down, the fish plucks a whisker and orders him out again. The cat says that every house should have a cat in it curled up by the fireplace. The fish orders him out, and tells him to take the things with him. The cat pretends to misunderstand and "wonders" who ever heard of a house without things in it. The fish says they're not things, and he's not a cat; who ever heard of a six-foot (1.83m) cat? The cat says he is a cat. The fish goes further and says that his hat isn't a hat. They argue about it for a few seconds before it starts another song. He introduces a bit of French into it, and at one point takes off his normal hat. The Things come in in can-can dress versions of their normla outfits and start dancing. The kids seem to forget that they were being absolute bullies to their fish just a little bit ago. The boy even leans in a bit. When the Things bend over, it shows the white circles with "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" on their respective rears. The cat continues singing, this time adding Spanish, and replacing his regular hat with a traditional Mexican sombrero. The kids sing and dance some, the boy in a replica of the sombrero. The cat puts yet another replica on the floor, and he dances around it before continuing. Now he's also a Katze und das ist meine Hut ("cat and this is my hat"?) The kids sing again, then the Things dance to "The More We Get Together". The cat takes up the song again, this time adding that he's a gwonka in a bonkequank; despite Seuss's penchant for made-up words, these are apparently real Eskimo words. The kids sing about it, but put it in an otherwise German sentence. ...Ah-h-h, now the fish is getting sidetracked! He reiterates the languages, and then adds Russian: A chapka in a shlyapa. Cue Russian dancing, culminating in a crash. Now for a couple of words that they don't give the language for:
...I guess in Scotland, to refer to a cat or a hat, ye honk the bonny bagpipes, and in Switzerland, they just use the word "yodel" for both?
At least now we get back to apparently real words for these things:
Irish: cate, kinfaret Dutch: cat, whool The Boogoo-Boogoo language, whatever it's called: skoogoo, aswali Unidentified: baka, abet (he is something of a baka, at that) Unidentified: waka, awet
In Poda Poda (the primary definition I can find is a type of taxi in Sierra Leone), he's a perk in a pagoda. He's a futs in a fedora.
The song comes to an end. Wait, I was hoping to hear how he's a chatul in a kippah, or a neko in a boshi. Not really.
The sound of a horn alerts the fish to the approach of the kids' mother. The Things rush back into their box, which shrinks and disappears. The cat leaves, thanking them for a fascinating afternoon, leaving the kids in the midst of a plethora of red and white hats and buildings... but then, as they're wondering what they're going to do, the cat comes in on some sort of cleaning machine, which cleans up, gathering his stuff, singing about cleaning up the memories, and saying he might return. The fish gives a report of the mother's approach. He fully leaves just before the mother enters the house proper.
Inside, she says she hopes the kids had fun, and tells them she could swear she saw a cat... in a hat... with a moss-covered, three-handled family grudunza.
...Something tells me she got such a visit a long time ago...
Next time: The Sneetches!