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Welcome to Faerie Tale Theatre... - trinalin thinks things through
Welcome to Faerie Tale Theatre...
Of late, I've been watching all of the Faerie Tale Theatre stories (thanks to the complete DVD set). Many of these I'd not seen since I was a pre-teen/early teen. And a few I'd never managed to catch in the first place.

This was probably my favorite Showtime series. (I also liked Q.E.D. but I remember so very little about it now. And I don't recall if that was a Showtime exclusive or not.) I was jealous of Shelly Duvall for having the perfect job - play around and recreate my favorite fairy stories from my childhood. I'm only about halfway through the DVD collection (so I haven't gotten to my favorite one - The Pied Piper) and it's been rather, um, illuminating.

So like, in Rumpelstiltskin, a woman's father lies to the king about her, the king threatens to kill her if she doesn't spin straw into gold, she successfully does it (thanks to a not-terribly altruistic fellow) three nights running, so the king makes her his wife... Greedy much? Nasty much? Then, thanks to a promise made under duress, the woman has to give her child up to the not-terribly altruistic fellow (who already took her locket and ring). So we get our happy ending with a woman living with a man who threatened to kill her unless she made him rich... And I liked this story growing up?

Rapunzel... Oh my. Hubby steals radishes for preggers wife, witch demands unborn child as payment. Child is raised in seclusion in a tower. Finally meets a guy and gets knocked up, so he's blinded and she's banished to the desert. Obviously sex is bad, m'kay? But it's all happy in the end when they all meet up in the desert.

Thumbelina always keeps meeting men who want to marry her without her consent. (Then, in this version - I haven't looked at the original texts yet since I've only watched it tonight - she winds up marrying a guy she barely knows.) Sounds like poor Peri in Doctor Who.

Most of the Faerie Tale Theatre productions are fun, colorful, and chock-full of actors to watch out for. However, Mick Jagger as the Emperor of China... Not terribly PC. (Indeed, there were only two or three Asians in the production - Mako being the main one. I thought we were starting to get enlightened in the 80s.)

Some of the actual stories I like better than others for their portrayal of women. They did a great job with the Princess and the Pea. Liza Minelli's Princess is quite the independent woman. It even had a believable love story in there. (Unlike the "love at first sight" Rapunzel & Sleeping Beauty.) Thumbelina, OTOH, winds up having to clean up or serve all the men she meets.

So it's been fun watching these as an adult with certain sensibilities. OTT Italian accents in Pinocchio? Check. Slanted eyes for Caucasian actors in The Nightingale? Check. Crappy portrayal of women in far too many of these stories? Check.

And it's been fun actor watching. Vitto Scotti as a fruit seller? Check. Jean Stapleton as an ugly ogre? Check. Burgess Meredith as a mole? Check. Princess Leia and the Greatest American Hero as a couple? Check.

I hope I have as much fun with the rest of the series. (I most likely will. Plus it'll be good to see the story that had me fall in love with Eric Idle back when I was a youngin'. Oh, and that helped me memorize over 100 lines of Browning's poem. Heh.)

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

6 comments or Leave a comment
drox From: drox Date: August 27th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
(I also liked Q.E.D. but I remember so very little about it now. And I don't recall if that was a Showtime exclusive or not.)

OMG Q.E.D.!!!11! I absolutely ADORED that show (assuming you're talking about the same Q.E.D. that I remember). The one I'm thinking of starred a very young (and bearded!) Sam Waterston, and lasted less than a season. And I was beginning to think that I had imagined the whole thing, because it seems no one remembers it except me.

This Q.E.D. (apologies if you're recalling another one) was on prime time network television (wiki says CBS) not Showtime. I didn't have Showtime back then, so I don't remember Faerie Tale Theatre.
trinalin From: trinalin Date: September 1st, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, that's the Q.E.D. I was thinking of. Odd, I could swear I saw it on Showtime - wasn't much for prime time viewing then. (Wonder if they aired it on Showtime after it was cancelled? But likely I'm misremembering it.)
felicityk From: felicityk Date: August 27th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember them doing a decent adaptation of The Snow Queen. I'm partial to that story anyway because it's the girl who leaves home and goes out into the world to rescue the boy!
trinalin From: trinalin Date: September 1st, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that one is up next. I'm taking a FTT break to watch The Colour of Magic. Will probably return to FTT after that disc finishes.
rembrandt13 From: rembrandt13 Date: August 28th, 2009 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I loved that series too--I actually internally reference The Princess and the Pea a fair amount because I too can feel if there's one single little thing beneath me in my bed that isn't supposed to be there, and it will drive me nuts until I can find it and get rid of it...plus I loved Liza Minnelli's characterization too.

I also fondly remember Paul Reubens as Pinnochio, though I think you've already covered the Eric Idle Massive Squee angle quite effectively. :)
trinalin From: trinalin Date: September 1st, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a fan of Paul Reubens, so I'd avoided Pinocchio when it originally aired. The OTT Italian Accents were a bit woeful, but the story was cute.
6 comments or Leave a comment