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TV Reviews : A Quirky TNT Look at Dr. Seuss

November 05, 1994|LYNNE HEFFLEY

Theodor Geisel, better known to millions as Dr. Seuss, was a unique artist, a comic genius whose signature drawings and rhythmic language reflected a deeply felt social conscience. "In Search of Dr. Seuss," a delightfully quirky, celebrity-studded mix of documentary and family entertainment airing Sunday on TNT, captures the life and art of the man who found his inspiration and his sense of humor by "looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope."

The show, written by Keith R. Clarke and directed by Vincent Paterson, is constructed as a magical, musical tour through old family photographs, archival film clips, excerpts from Geisel's animated features and encounters with characters from his books. It traces the artist's evolution from political cartoonist, successful advertising man and Academy Award-winning, anti-Fascist documentarian to children's author-illustrator.

Going along for the ride is "Sister Act's" bright-eyed Kathy Najimy, as an inquiring journalist. Her guide is the eccentric Cat in the Hat (Matt Frewer, a perfect piece of casting). Andrea Martin, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan and David Paymer turn up in various Seussian guises. Robin Williams reads "The Cat in the Hat" to two fidgety little girls, Howie Mandel and Billy Crystal provide voices for Sam-I-Am (of "Green Eggs and Ham" fame) and a sociable Voice of America radio, respectively. Most memorable is a Cyrano-nosed Patrick Stewart as Sgt. Mulvaney, the Irish police officer from Mulberry Street.

The pace flags during song-and-dance numbers, but the show's off-the-wall tone, and the production design by Tom Walsh and costumes by Merrily Murray-Walsh are deliciously true to Dr. Seuss' unique vision of the world.

* "In Search of Dr. Seuss" airs at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT.

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