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Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Princess Tales - family and children's DVD / music concert DVD review
SHELLEY DUVALL'S FAERIE TALE THEATRE: PRINCESS TALES Not rated by the MPAA curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Matthew Broderick, Helen Mirren, Peter Weller, Liza Minelli, Jennifer Beals, Pam Dawber
Distributor: E1 Entertainment
DVD release: 14 July 2009 Runtime: 204 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC
DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.33:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Four episodes (Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Dancing Princesses, The Princess and the Pea)

The original Faerie Tale Theatre is brought to DVD by E1 Entertainment, and none of the wonderful splendor that made this award-winning series a hit has been lost. It is refreshing to note that E1 Entertainment knew it had the goods in Shelley Duvall's original creation and did not try - and fail - to reinvent the wheel.

Along with Shelley Duvall making a small cameo appearance at the beginning of each episode, the series is notoriously decked out with "then" famous names and faces as well as up-and-coming actors whose names are "now" gold in stardom. The episodes in the Princess Tales DVD collection simply teems with names that are either famous or familiar.

The episode list for this DVD includes Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Dancing Princesses, and The Princess and the Pea. The list of actors starring in these episodes includes but is not limited to Jennifer Beals, Eve Arden, Jane Alden, Edie McClurg, Jean Stapleton, Matthew Broderick, Pam Dawber, Karen Black, Treat Williams, Helen Mirren, Roy Dotrice, Tom Conti, and Liza Minnelli. Acting ability is not lacking in this group.

Cinderella tells the age-old tale of the young maiden left destitute and at the mercy of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Though her countenance offers little to displease the unhappiest of people, Cinderella is treated like a despised slave in her own home. Life is miserable until her magical godmother gives her the chance to go to the royal ball. Meeting her true love, even for one night, is more than she has ever dreamed of. However, happily ever after sometimes take a little more work and magic than a short rendezvous can accomplish.

The Little Mermaid longs to mingle with the creatures that walk upon the land, bathe under the sun, and live so differently from those under the sea. The chance to experience that existence becomes even more enticing when she falls in love with a human. To join her true love, the mermaid makes a deal with the Sea Witch and must give up everything to be with her heart's desire.

The Dancing Princesses oozes mischief as six over-protected daughters secretly flee the compounds of their father's castle to dance each night away. The king welcomes potential suitors in an attempt to get to the bottom of the princesses' activities. One lucky soldier finds friendship with a magical old woman who bestows a special gift. If he uses his intelligence, wits, and the magical gift, this soldier may soon find himself married to one of the beautiful princesses.

The Princess and the Pea brings an unlikely-looking woman to the door of a snooty queen and king to ask for shelter. When the prince falls in love with the mysterious visitor, he is adamant about marrying her. The queen plans to be rid of her by using the Royal Pea test, an impossible feat for anyone to pass. If the lady cannot pass the test, will the prince's love fail as well?

This series embraces the art of theatre as well as superb storytelling, which makes it fantastic for viewers ranging from school age and above. Younger children may find these episodes a little boring due to the theatrical quality, mild action levels, and inability to grasp the entirety of what is occurring on the screen. However, there are such fantastic displays in props, costumes, visual effects, and acting skills that comprehension of the storyline is not an absolute must for initial enjoyment of the show for a younger audience. Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Princess Tales DVD is a great series selection to watch as a family or for pure childhood enjoyment.
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reviewed by Sonia R. Polinsky
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