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.)