Netflix gave the Television Critics Association the first preview of their Green Eggs and Ham animated series. They showed how one scene was realized from script through storyboards to rough animation and final, but did not show a full episode just yet. Series creator Jared Stern was there to talk through more of how Dr. Seuss’s short book could become 13 half hour episodes for Netflix.
Adam Devine is the voice of Sam I Am, who keeps trying to get the resistant Guy Am I (Michael Douglas) to try that emerald-shaded protein. Stern revealed how animation legends Phil Lord and Chris Miller helped him, where the series expands on Seuss, and how much of the show will rhyme. Green Eggs and Ham premieres this fall on Netflix.
Lord and Miller Proved Nothing is Too Short to Be Adapted
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was also a brief children’s book. Lego was just a set of building blocks before Lord and Miller got to them. Animators travel in small circles, so Stern shared how his professional friends inspired him with Dr. Seuss.
“Some of my friends, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, did Lego Movie and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” Stern said. “I remember being blown away by what they did with those things where they took something very simple. There wasn’t a huge amount of story in those or no story at all in Lego toys.”
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was about food falling from the sky, but also about how attempts to fix a problem can create new problems. The Lego Movie was about all the cool stuff you can build with Legos, but also about the very nature of storytelling. If Stern can bring a hint of that to Green Eggs and Ham, he’s onto something.
“They were able to use the vibe of it, the essence of it, to create something magical and then have way more story and something to say but still felt true to what was there,” Stern continued. “That was my intent, to try to live up to those types of things with this.”
The Thesis of Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham is a funny title, and it gave Seuss lots of opportunities to rattle off all the different ways one could refuse to eat them. That would get old by episode three, so Stern found the real message to explore in Green Eggs and Ham.
“So to take what’s in the book, these great characters that are there, right?” Stern said. “There’s a grumpy guy who’s closed off to everything and doesn’t want to try something new and there’s a silly guy who’s pushing him and pushing him and doesn’t just maybe want to try those green eggs and ham but seems like he really wants him to like him as a person and a friend.”
In real life, no means no and we should respect people’s boundaries. Yet when it comes to food, unless you have legitimate medical allergies, there’s little harm in trying something new. If you don’t like it, just spit it out.
“Taking that as a jumping off point, taking the fact that it’s about trying new things and maybe never giving up, that it’s never too late to try something new in your life and you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” Stern said.
One Rhyme Becomes a Whole Episode
“I would not, could not, in the rain.
Not in the dark. Not on a train.
Not in a car. Not in a tree.
I do not like them, Sam, you see.
Not in a house. Not in a box.
Not with a mouse. Not with a fox.
I will not eat them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere!”
You’ll definitely see the car and the train on the show, plus the boat from another verse, Stern confirms.
“There’s more stuff to the story in there too because there’ a car and there’s a train and there’s a boat,” Stern said. “So okay, now we’re on a road trip and maybe we’re going on a road trip across a Seussian midcentury America and then what does that mean? Then if it’s like a Planes, Trains and Automobiles or a Midnight Run, then someone’s chasing them. So who’s chasing them and why are they chasing them? There’s got to be some fun reason and then they meet people along the way and maybe they fall in love.”
Okay, that’s pretty good. I admire the train of thought that expands a single word into breaking several episodes of story.
“It all started with this little kernel,” Stern said. “I hope it stays true to that kernel and to the feeling of that original Seuss book which I love so much and then hopefully just expand it out into a larger world.”
Guy and the Eggs are the Ross and Rachel of Green Eggs and Ham
TV comedy is often based on a will they/won’t they dynamic. Ross and Rachel danced around all 10 seasons of Friends, Tony and Angela on Who’s the Boss, etc. But how long can Guy really refuse to eat?
“It is definitely created in order to continue hopefully,” Stern said. “I hope you all like it and that gets to happen. I’ll just say that even though that is one goal, there could be other goals once you finally get to that.”
Only One Character On Green Eggs and Ham Rhymes
When Seuss has Sam and Guy talk, they exchange rhymes as well as all the rhyming lines in-between. Sam and Guy don’t rhyme on the show, nor do the other characters. There is a narrator though, played by Keegan-Michael Key.
“The narrator is the only one who rhymes and he always rhymes,” Stern said. “It is one of the hardest things to write, to try to live up to Seuss in terms of keeping the tone and having it feel like him. I wanted that, but once you actually start trying to rhyme like him, that is really hard.”
That makes sense and some of the Dr. Seuss movies have handled it that way too. The narrator speaks like Dr. Seuss, and then the rhymes are always special when the narration kicks in.
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