"Faerie Tale Theatre" The Princess Who Had Never Laughed (TV Episode 1986) Poster

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popculturethoughts11 January 2019
There isn't much to this episode of Shelley Duvall's classic family series beyond the charm of its leads, Ellen Barkin and Howie Mandell. The original fairy tale, collected by Alexander Afanasyev, is pretty lightweight if I remember correctly from childhood, and that threadbare narrative structure is reflected in this version of it. Mind you, the show has had thin episodes before, like "The Emperor's New Clothe," "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Pied Pauper of Hamlin," and the show's writers know exactly how to tackle the project: By heightening the cleverness of the banter among the characters and focusing on physical humor in addition, resulting in a pleasing, witty and entertaining diversion. It's not one of the show's strongest episodes but there's plenty for fans to enjoy.
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Not one of my favourite 'Faerie Tale Theatre' episodes, decent enough
TheLittleSongbird2 July 2017
There is a lot to like about the 'Faerie Tale Theatre' series. Many of their adaptations of various well-known and well-loved fairy tales are charming, clever and sometimes funny, a few even emotionally moving. 'Faerie Tale Theatre' puts its own magical spin (whether playing for laughs or straight) on the best of the episodes while still capturing the essence of the stories, while also giving further enjoyments in seeing talented performers in early roles or in roles that are departures from their usual roles.

Based on a story that is pretty charming and entertaining but is not one of my favourites, one can understand somewhat why it is one of the lesser known stories to be adapted for 'Faerie Tale Theatre', "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" may be one of my least favourite episodes of the show but in no way at all is it bad, which is testament to how good 'Faerie Tale Theatre' is, the odd imperfection and all, and how wonderful the best episodes are.

Even for 'Faerie Tale Theatre', which never had a high budget but mostly did very well all things considered, "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" looks low/shoestring budget, one of the cheaper looking episodes overall. The costumes are on the amateurish side and the sets are drab and lack the colour and picturesque-ness of the best episodes. The photography also looks dull. A few of the jokes, mostly from Howie Mandel, are somewhat corny and go overboard on the cheese factor.

Some instances in the episode where the story is a little dully rambling and unlikely. Lastly Sofia Coppola's very flat acting feels very out of place compared to everything else.

However, the music is rousing and lush with great use of period Renaissance music at the start in particular. Quite a lot of "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" is charming and a lot of fun, with some very funny and surprisingly quotable lines. The story mostly is true in detail and spirit to the story it's based on, while also adding a little of its own elements which worked well.

"The Princess Who Had Never Laughed's" best component is the cast. Howie Mandel is an appealing hero, boasting some amusing moments and his performance in perfect keeping with the episode's tone. Ellen Barkin is delightfully charming as Henrietta, while Howard Hesseman is suitably stern and bags some hilarious lines and exchanges and Mary Woronov plays it straight effectively. Barrie Ingham is as ever a consummate professional, and the narration tells the story well and cohesively without explaining too much.

In conclusion, decent and above average episode but not one of my favourites. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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