April 7, 2011

Robert Guillaume's Happily Ever After Fairy Tales On HBO Are Still A Real Thing.

OK, this has to be quick, because I've got preschool pickup in a couple of minutes:

So Kottke points to this UK Independent roundup of The 50 Books Every Child Should Read.

Which I click through, even though it's for like 11-year-olds, maybe there's something for the kid, or maybe we do a similar roundup for toddlers.

And on it is Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, and yeah, I'm a sucker for children's stories by seemingly incongruous writers [I'll backfill some links to examples later].

So, The Happy Prince, the title story for Wilde's children's storybook collection, first published in 1888. I do remember The Selfish Giant. I'll look that up later, too. Stark illustrations from my childhood.

And then I see that of course, it's been adapted a million times, including,

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child did a version of the title story set in New York City featuring Ed Koch as the Happy Prince (who was the statue of the cities last mayor) and Cyndi Lauper as a street wise pigeon named "Pidge" (in place of the Swallow).
And holy crap, are you kidding me? Ed Koch and Cyndi Lauper? This sounds like a bigger train wreck than even Shelly Duvall's TV fairy tales. [More on that later, too, perhaps? Or perhaps not.]

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child is a real thing, and it was produced in three seasons, 1995, 1997, and 1999-2000 for HBO Family, which is why I've never heard of it. And as I've found with Richard Macguire, the kid culture of the 90s is a black hole, too new to be retro-rediscovered, and too old to be monetizable by its original creators. Also, I was kid-free in the 90s, and so was completely blind/oblivious, and damn happy about it, too, if I remember correctly.

Except. HBO Family is a channel that exists. And this Happily Ever After series apparently continues on it to this day. The trailer on the HBO website [which doesn't look like it's been updated since it was created in 1995-2000, and thus asks me if I am a high bandwidth real media user or not] makes the whole series look a bit cheesy, frankly. Why would I trust Robert Guillaume to retell all our classic fairy tales in a newer, "fresher" [i.e., less white] way? I mean, clearly, it needs to be done, but.

Holy smokes, this show is on right this second. 11AM EST The Happy Prince. So I go and watch it. It is real. It is just starting. It is slackly animated. It is about a mayor instead of a prince, a mayor named Prince. It is--oh holy crap, people, Ed Koch can't act, he can't even read!

This whole series could be a slow-rolling disaster at the far end of your digital cable channel selector, and you didn't even know it! Save us, Whoopi Goldberg's bayou Rapunzel, you're our only hope!


For every person who slams Disney films, I offer the Happily Ever After series as an example of how bad things could really be. Disney spoils us for quality animation and storytelling.

Some episodes of Happily Ever After are painfully politically-corrected but at least they're trying...how many children's shows are out there that don't have a merchandising tie-in? Not even PBS can claim that any more - HBO is it.

How exactly does one merchandise a show called "I Have Tourette's But Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," I wonder?

I'm thinking little dolls with pull-strings....

The title of that program is almost TLC parody-worthy.

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