Faerie Tale Theatre: “The Princess Who Had Never Laughed” (1986)

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.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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