Sunday, March 6, 2011
Faerie Tale Theatre/The Alice Miniseries
Do you have a child? Were you once a child? Were you around in the 1980s? If so, you either know and treasure these gems, or should be ashamed not to.
This series, fully titled “Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre” started production in 1982 for Showtime, and continued cranking out amazing live action versions of classic faerie stories through 1987. It provided enormous entertainment for me and my parents when I was a child, when we got our hands on VHS copies of them. The series also contributed to one of the cutest stories about my childhood, in which I was asked by someone, “How does a fairytale begin?” and I responded with, “Hello, I’m Shelley Duvall.” Doesn’t get much cuter than that, folks.
Seriously, though, these tales were burned deep into my brain, and I continue to use them as reference points. They are also completely packed to the brim with celebrities, and many of my favorite memories of some of them are from this series. My first loves were Treat Williams, as the prince in The Little Mermaid, which is one of the saddest, most heart-breaking episodes here, and Christopher Reeve as the prince in Sleeping Beauty, which had me green with envy of Bernadette Peters. My first role model, in a way, was Ellen Barkin as The Princess Who Had Never Laughed, with her crooked face and pretty hair. Teri Garr as the prin-CESS (watch and understand) in The Frog Prince opposite Robin Williams made me long for a golden ball just like hers. Jeff Goldblum was the funniest Big Bad Wolf in history, scaring Billy Crystal and Fred Willard in the Three Little Pigs, and Susan Sarandon and Klaus Kinski made me and my mother weep every time we watched Beauty and the Beast.
Some other names you might recognize: Vanessa Redgrave, Vincent Price, Matthew Broderick, Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Liza Minelli, Carol Kane, Mick Jagger, Gregory Hines, and so many more.
At some point, the VHS copies burned out, so I went on amazon and found the whole damned set, which I now guard with my life. Please follow suit. Your children (inner and actual) will thank you. Or just ask to borrow them. I’m willing to share.
In the same vein, check out the TV movie from 1985 of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, which is one of the greatest tellings of that story ever…told. What’s scarier than a Jabberwocky, not to mention Carol Channing singing about jam? And what’s better than Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle and Sammy Davis Jr as the hookah-smoking caterpillar??? It’s 474503 times better than Tim Burton’s remake, which please remember, I did not hate.
Go relive my childhood.