Faerie Tale Theatre

Faerie Tale Theatre (also known as Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre) is an American live-action fairytale fantasy anthology television series of 27 episodes, that originally aired on Showtime from September 11, 1982 until November 14, 1987. It is a retelling of 25 fairy tales, particularly those by The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen, plus the poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Shelley Duvall is the series creator, host, executive producer alongside Bridget Terry and Frederic E. Fuchs, occasional star and narrator, and voice of the animatronic Nightingale. Episodes, which featured numerous Hollywood stars in character roles, were directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Ivan Passer, Emile Ardolino and Tim Burton, among others. It is one of the first examples of cable original programming, alongside HBO's Fraggle Rock.[1]

Faerie Tale Theatre
The 6-DVD Starmaker II box set cover
Also known asShelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre
Fairytale fantasy
Created byShelley Duvall
Presented byShelley Duvall
Starringsee below
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes27 (list of episodes)
Executive producersShelley Duvall for Gaylord Production Company, Lions Gate Films and Platypus Productions
Frederic E. Fuchs
Running time39–58 minutes
Production companies
Original networkShowtime
Original releaseSeptember 11, 1982 (1982-09-11) –
November 14, 1987 (1987-11-14)
Followed byTall Tales & Legends
Nightmare Classics
Bedtime Stories
Related showsShirley Temple's Storybook
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child

The series was followed by three other less successful shorter anthologies produced by Duvall: Tall Tales & Legends (9 episodes), which follows the same format as Faerie Tale Theatre and focuses on classic American folk tales, Nightmare Classics (4 episodes produced of the intended 6), aimed at a young adult audience, and Bedtime Stories (12 episodes).


Shelley Duvall began conception of Faerie Tale Theatre while filming the live-action 1980 film Popeye in Malta. She reportedly asked her co-star, Robin Williams, his opinion on "The Frog Prince", a fairy tale she was reading during production.[2] Williams thought it was funny and would later star in the namesake pilot episode of the series, written, narrated and directed by Monty Python's Eric Idle, who himself would appear in the future episode "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Many of the episodes produced by Fred Fuchs in association with Duvall, were written by Rod Ash, Mark Curtiss, Maryedith Burrell and Robert C. Jones. All of the episodes were produced and shot from 1982 to 1985 and videotaped mostly at the ABC Television Studios in Hollywood, California.

Every episode opened with Duvall introducing herself and giving a brief synopsis of the fairy tale to follow. Each episode features live-action adaptations, with celebrities from the performance world in costume. Duvall features in three episodes playing various characters and narrates three others.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
12September 11, 1982 (1982-09-11)October 16, 1982 (1982-10-16)
26February 5, 1983 (1983-02-05)December 5, 1983 (1983-12-05)
37January 9, 1984 (1984-01-09)September 17, 1984 (1984-09-17)
47February 12, 1985 (1985-02-12)October 5, 1985 (1985-10-05)
52July 14, 1986 (1986-07-14)August 11, 1986 (1986-08-11)
63March 23, 1987 (1987-03-23)November 14, 1987 (1987-11-14)


Many episodes feature backdrops and settings inspired by specific artists and children's book illustrators,[3] including Maxfield Parrish ("The Frog Prince"), Norman Rockwell ("Goldilocks and the Three Bears"), Arthur Rackham ("Hansel and Gretel"), Edmund Dulac ("The Nightingale"), Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke ("The Princess and the Pea") Gustav Klimt ("Rapunzel"), N. C. Wyeth ("Rumpelstiltskin", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"), Kay Nielsen ("Sleeping Beauty"), Brueghel and Dürer ("The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers"), Jennie Harbour ("Little Red Riding Hood"), and George Cruikshank ("Thumbelina"), as well as filmmakers, such as Jean Cocteau ("Beauty and the Beast").

Home mediaEdit

Faerie Tale Theatre was released on VHS, Betamax, CED, and Laserdisc in the 1980s through mid 1990s, initially by CBS/FOX Video, followed by Playhouse Video (an extended label under CBS/FOX), and later Razz Ma Tazz Entertainment/Cabin Fever Entertainment. While in the UK it was released by MGM-UA Home Video

Starmaker II held the rights to the series from 2004 to 2006, and at first released 26 episodes as individual DVDs.[4] This was followed by a double-sided 4-disc box set and then a 6-disc box set, each version containing the same 26 episodes. The "Greatest Moments" episode was not included in this release.

After 2006, Koch Vision held the series' distribution rights, and in November 2006 licensed the rights worldwide (excluding DVDs in North America) to the British company 3DD Entertainment.[5][6] A new remastered 7-disc box set, including the lost "Greatest Moments" episode, was released by Koch Vision on September 2, 2008.[7] In 2009, Koch Vision released the episodes by theme on six DVD compilations: Tales from the Brothers Grimm ("Hansel and Gretel", "Rapunzel", "Rumpelstiltskin", and "Little Red Riding Hood"), Funny Tales ("The Tale of The Frog Prince", "Pinocchio", "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed"), Tales from Hans Christian Andersen ("The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Nightingale", "The Snow Queen" and "Thumbelina"), Princess Tales ("Cinderella", "The Little Mermaid", "The Dancing Princesses" and "The Princess and the Pea"), Magical Tales ("Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp", "Beauty and the Beast", "Puss in Boots" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs") and Bedtime Tales ("Jack and the Beanstalk", "Sleeping Beauty", "Rip Van Winkle" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears").[8]

When released on DVD by Starmaker II and Koch Vision, the following scenes were cut from the series:[citation needed]

  • "Goldilocks and the Three Bears": Papa Bear and Mama Bear trying to fix Cubby Bear's chair; the Charades scene is shortened.
  • "The Pied Piper of Hamelin": Julius Caesar Rat's monologue.
  • "Rumpelstiltskin": the Miller's daughter singing with the animals in the forest (this scene was also unavailable on the VHS releases)[citation needed]


Faerie Tale Theatre won a Peabody Award, a TCA Award, and a Golden CableACE Award. It later aired as edited re-runs on the Disney Channel[9] as well as in syndication on various television stations,[10] including PBS[11][12] and BookTelevision.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sandra Salmans (6 February 1984). "Showtime Challenges Rivals" – via NYTimes.com.
  2. ^ Suskin, Steven (2008-09-07). "THE DVD SHELF: "Mad Men" Season One, and Duvall's "Faerie Tale Theatre"". Playbill.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
  3. ^ Stengel, Richard and Denise Worrell (July 25, 1983). "Video: Cinderella Puts On a Show". Time. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008.
  4. ^ Bianculli, David (October 28, 2004). "Old Family Treasures Unearthed On DVD". New York Daily News.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "3DD Takes On New Properties from U.S. Companies". World Screen. November 3, 2006. Archived from the original on December 19, 2007.
  6. ^ "International Market: 3DD Entertainment". Cynopsis: Multi-Cultural & International Edition. November 6, 2006. Archived from the original on June 1, 2008.
  7. ^ "Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: The Complete Collection (2008)". ASIN: B001AZIRV8
  8. ^ Catalog kochvision.com
  9. ^ Bianculli, David (September 26, 1995). "Cable Viewers Suffer Unkindest Cuts Of All". New York Daily News.
  10. ^ Nanwalt, Sasha (August 6, 1989). "TELEVISION; Shelley Duvall Tries Scaring Up A New Audience". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Lomartire, Paul (April 21, 1992). "'BEDTIME STORIES' A FINE SHOW FOR KIDS". Palm Beach Post.
  12. ^ KLRU TV Schedule – Search By Title: List of KLRU programs Archived 2012-09-18 at the Wayback Machine klru.org
  13. ^ "Program Schedule". BookTelevision. March 29, 2007. Archived from the original on March 29, 2007.

External linksEdit