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.
While not one of my favourite 'Faerie Tale Theatre' episodes (talking about the episodes before "Puss in Boots" for a moment, there is a personal preference for the likes of "Hansel and Gretel", "The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Three Little Pigs", "The Snow Queen", "Rumpelstiltskin", "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Cinderella"), "The Emperor's New Clothes" is still better than the likes of the still decent "Puss in Boots", "Pinocchio", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Nightingale" and "Jack and the Beanstalk".
It is a fun, well done and entertaining version of Hans Christian Andersen's story, and one of the better ones to exist in my opinion, faring far better than for instance the 1987 Cannon Movie Tales version and committing few of the faults that that did. While "The Emperor's New Clothes" embellishes the original story and adds some aspects, these changes and additions added a lot surprisingly and like the previous reviewer heightened my enjoyment. While the story is fun and wonderfully satirical it is also somewhat slight and doesn't exactly lend itself well to feature length, just one of the problems with the Cannon Movie Tales version, so there was the worry as to whether the additions would feel too much like padding.
Luckily they didn't. Most of "The Emperor's New Clothes" works very well indeed, but for my liking the make-up at times was a little ghoulish even for that particular time period and the beginning doesn't quite have the momentum of the rest of the episode.
However, "The Emperor's New Clothes" is good-looking, the sumptuous period costumes and extravagant settings and scenery making it one of the more lavish episodes of 'Faerie Tale Theatre' that even the occasionally drab photography can't hinder. The period music score gives an evocative sense of time period and serves as good music on its own.
Really liked the biting satirical edge to the writing, very appropriate seeing as the original story is satirical in a way, which helps make "The Emperor's New Clothes" one of the show's funniest. No juvenile slapstick or a dull, cheesy romantic subplot to drag things down. The climactic moments are very funny as ought. The story is engaging and fun, never feeling rushed or pedestrian, and the direction is solid.
Dick Shawn is appropriately vain, ruthless and funny in the title role, and he is very well supported by the even funnier double act of Art Carney and Alan Arkin (whose chemistry is the driving force of the episode). Barrie Ingham and Clive Revill keeping things tongue in cheek while still giving the right amount of subtlety and resisting the temptation to mug.
In summary, 'Faerie Tale Theatre' at its most satirical and all the more entertaining for it. Not one of my favourites of the series but was very surprised at how well it turned out. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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