Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre TV Poster Image
Superb classic still entertains, but know your kid.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Many of the stories have lessons within them, especially the importance of courage. Negative behavior usually has consequences, though some villains escape without facing up to their actions. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

A mixed bag, depending on the story and its characters, but villains typically are greedy, scheming, and vindictive, while the protagonists tend to be innocent, well-meaning, and altruistic. Even so, some resort to unsavory behavior such as stealing, which has consequences.  

Violence & Scariness

Suspense and some scary moments as characters' fates hang in the balance. Some villains are cruel, and they use magic to hurt and ensnare people. Some characters wear masks that can be scary, too. Guns are used. Threatening comments such as "I'm going to make his brains into soup." No gore or even visible blood, though. 

Sexy Stuff

Veiled hints and wink-wink moments that will go over kids' heads, as when a man asks his wife if she'd like a cucumber as they start to kiss in bed. 


Name-calling such as "idiot" and "stupid."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre is an award-winning series in which accomplished actors and actresses act out adaptations of well-known fairy tales such as "The Frog Prince," "Sleeping Beauty," and "Hansel and Gretel." Because every story is different and the live-action format can make precarious scenes seem even scarier than usual, this is a real know-your-kid situation. Some stories deal with threatening themes (vindictive stepmothers, baking kids in an oven, and a grandmother-eating wolf, for instance), weapons are visible, and magic is used as a weapon. Many of the tales offer lessons about positive traits such as honesty and humility. The show's dated special effects and elaborate costumes and sets might not be an instant hit with kids more attuned to CGI, but this superb series is quality entertainment for the whole family. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1 and 10-year-old Written byZoethustra March 11, 2017

I watched it, now my kids watch it

I LOVED this show when I was a kid and couldn't WAIT to show it to my kids. Some of the episodes are slower moving, some are pretty darn creepy and some ha... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

SHELLEY DUVALL'S FAERIE TALE THEATRE is an award-winning collection of live-action fairy tale adaptations. Hostess Duvall introduces the stories before the scenes are set for elaborate stage productions of favorites such as "The Three Little Pigs," "The Little Mermaid," and "Pinocchio." The series counts entertainment icons Robin Williams, Carl Reiner, Barbara Hershey, and Christopher Reeve among the many guests who graced the screen during the show's six seasons. 

Is it any good?

They don't make TV shows like this anymore, which makes this vintage offering even more unique among families' many entertainment choices. Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre has a kind of grab-bag appeal because every story is different, and even the stories familiar to viewers have plot twists that often yield surprises. And then there's the show's unusual (by today's standards) production value and costumes -- a fun departure from modern entertainment styles, likely an acquired taste for younger viewers but delightfully suited to this presentation. Best of all, though, is the veritable who's who of Hollywood stars who lent their talents to the show over the years.

But although Faerie Tale Theatre makes for excellent family entertainment, it's also unpredictable in its content, so parents should take care in choosing episodes without scenarios that might scare their young kids. Whether it's a character's frightful costume or a threatening suggestion (talking to strangers could get you eaten in these kinds of stories), the fact that it plays out in live action makes the potential for scares a little greater than in cartoon or book versions. What's more, in many cases, the stories take unexpected turns, so even if your kids know the stories, there might be unexpected turns in these adaptations. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre compares to other versions of the same stories. At what points did the writers take creative license with the plot? What, if anything, did these changes add to the stories? 

  • Why does this series still have appeal so many years after it originally aired? Do you enjoy its decidedly different look? Did any of its content surprise you? Can something like this compete with today's cutting-edge special effects?

  • Kids: Was there a lesson to be found in this tale? If so, did the character learn it? Do you often find lessons in the shows you watch? 

  • How do the characters in Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre demonstrate courage? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

Character Strengths

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