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Case Number 17036: Small Claims Court

Buy Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales From Hans Christian Andersen at Amazon

Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales From Hans Christian Andersen

E1 Entertainment // 1983 // 211 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // August 14th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Roy Hrab's life resembles a fairy tale, that is, if you believe all the lies he tells.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Magical Tales (published December 9th, 2009), Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Bedtime Tales (published January 30th, 2010), and Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection (published October 1st, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Once Upon On Time…

The Case

In his review of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection, Judge Christopher Kulik provided a comprehensive account of the history, style, and nostalgic value of the series. I have nothing to add to his excellent backdrop and so will delve straight into the contents of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales from Hans Christian Andersen.

This release contains four episodes:

• "The Emperor's New Clothes"
A narcissistic emperor (Dick Shawn, Maid To Order) lets his vanity get the best of him when he falls for a scam by a pair of travelling con men (Alan Arkin, Catch-22 and Art Carney, Last Action Hero). The pair claims that they weave the finest garments, but there's a catch: the material is so marvellous that they say it is invisible to the stupid and those unfit to hold office. Shawn camps up the foppish emperor perfectly while Arkin and Carney are suitably dodgy. The problem is that the original story is a short morality tale and it takes a lot of padding to make it fill a 50 minute episode. As a result, this installment becomes tiresome well before the final credits roll.

• "The Nightingale"
An emperor (Mick Jagger, Performance) who has spent his life in his marvellous palace, insulated from the outside world, learns that the songs of the nightingale are beloved by all who visit his country. Yet he has neither heard nor seen the bird his entire life. With the help of a lowly maid (Barbara Hershey, The Last Temptation Of Christ) the bird is brought to the palace. Its beautiful songs captivate the emperor until a mechanical novelty turns his attention elsewhere. This episode offers no improvement over the previous one. The only respites here are Jagger's embarrassingly comatose performance and the collection of B-list celebrities in the cast, including Bud Cort (Harold And Maude), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), and Mako (Bulletproof Monk).

• "The Snow Queen"
An evil goblin drops enchanted glass into the eye of a young boy, Kay (Lance Kerwin, Enemy Mine), causing him to see everything good as bad and everything bad as good. This leads Kay to quarrel with his best friend, Gerda (Melissa Gilbert, Little House On The Prairie), and being spirited away by the Snow Queen (Lee Remick, Days Of Wine And Roses) to her frozen palace. Gerda sets off to find her friend. Lauren Hutton (American Gigolo) makes an appearance as the Lady of Summer. This tale about the power of love and friendship has more than enough story to fill an entire episode.

• "Thumbelina"
A woman who yearns for a child gets her wish a most unexpected way when a flower she plants yields a beautiful maiden, barely the length of a thumb, whom the women names Thumbelina (Carrie Fisher, The Women). When she grow older the lovely girl is whisked away on a series of adventures, involving multiple attempts by different creatures to marry her, including an ugly toad, a mole (Burgess Meredith, Grumpy Old Men), and the Flower Prince (William Katt, Carrie). This is a strong tale about the virtues of being true to oneself.

The picture quality is acceptable for a show from the 1980s shot on video. The special effects are cheesy to be sure, but the picture is clean. The audio is also free of problems.

There are no extras.

This release does not contain the strongest set of Faerie Tale Theatre episodes. In fact, it doesn't even feature the best episodes based on Andersen's writings because both "The Princess And The Pea" and "The Little Mermaid" are inexplicably absent. As a result, it's difficult to figure out what audience this release is targeted towards because die-hard fans have already picked up The Complete Collection. The incomplete set of Andersen episodes, plus the fact the best ones aren't even included, makes it hard to recommend this beyond a rental for those who have never watched the series.

Like the ING Direct guy says: "Save your money."

The Verdict

Guilty of not providing viewers with all the episodes they are entitled to.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: E1 Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 211 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Family
• Fantasy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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