Adapting Dr. Seuss for the screen is a weighty proposition. For every Boris Karloff-narrated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” triumph there’s more than one disaster like what Mike Myers and company did to The Cat in the Hat in 2003. Any new Seuss adaptation, including the upcoming Green Eggs & Ham series on Netflix, should thus be greeted with trepidation.
This is particularly true when what we know about the project makes it sound like a radical departure from the source material. Here’s the synopsis:
“Based on the beloved book by Dr. Seuss, the upcoming animated series follows opposites ‘Guy’ and ‘Sam’ as they venture out on a road trip to save an endangered animal from a far off zoo. Along the way they learn to try new things like hope, friendship, and a certain delectable dish.”
What, if we may ask, the hell? Green Eggs & Ham the book is a compact story about a guy who refuses to try the eponymous dish and, after finally giving it a shot, learns that he loves it. Its brilliance is in its simplicity, and this synopsis makes it clear that in order to fill its 13 episodes the show is adding a bunch of elements that have nothing to do with Theodore Geisel.
The creator of the show is Jared Stern, whose credits include screenplays for The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and The Internship. Ellen DeGeneres is, for some reason, one of the executive producers.
What’s inarguable is that the cast is stacked. Michael Douglas, Eddie Izzard, Diane Keaton, Keegan-Michael Key, Tracy Morgan, John Turturro, Jillian Bell, and Ilana Glazer, along with Adam Devine, The Righteous Gemstones star who plays Sam I Am.
Of course, star-studded voice casts have produced duds before, so we’re still approaching this one with caution. It could be great, a new take on a classic in which the additions don’t obscure Seuss’s original message.
But we know from experience that most of these attempts are less than great, so proceed with caution. After all, you don’t want to expose your kids to subpar Seuss content when there’s so much gold out there.