I got all of my wisdom teeth taken out on Monday, which meant deciding to take a break from my busy schedule of doing nothing and hating myself every second for it, to basking in the luxury of doing nothing, all for the sake of healing.
I may be a jack-of-all trades, master-of-none type, and been lost in a maelstrom ever since graduation with but a hazy, increasingly blink-y north star of “writing” to guide the way, but I can safely say that if there is one thing in that I really fucking excel at it is taking care of myself when I’m sick. Want proof? Look no further than last summer’s now-you-mono, now-you-don’t, barely-registered blip on my health radar. An affliction that keeps some laid up, and un-laid, for months, I zapped away without a trace in less than two weeks with only the help of my libido’s irrepressible will and my three-toed sloth style. Being sick is the only time those things come in handy, but really, it almost makes up for all the other ways in which they cripple me daily. Illness also gives me an actual purpose to be in bed, and soothes the fact that my plan to leave home forever that I hatched when I was 10 years old has somehow still not come to fruition. At least for a few hours… then of course the failure sets in again. Fortunately, a few hours was all I needed this time in order to relish every bit of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, whose divine existence I serendipitously rediscovered upon my return from the dentist’s office, streaming on the Netflix website!
With four less teeth in my mouth, drooling in front of my childhood favorite took a more literal meaning than I might have liked. But the last thing I was about to do was look a gift horse in the mouth: I had enough problems with my own and also I just never really understood that phrase. So in one day, I raced through the first two seasons, and I’m happy to report not a single thing about it disappointed: score one for Little Mikey.
Obviously, there’s a lot I could cover with these gems, but let’s put first things first:
Every episode of Faerie Tale Theatre begins with an intro from Shelley Duvall in a themed setting. Enchanted forest, magic kingdom, puppet workshop, gentrified anthromorphic bear village, etc. It adds a wispy, homespun dimension to the entire proceedings and really creates the delightful feeling that Duvall is just a frail, mentally demented woman who absentmindedly followed a shiny balloon off Celebrity Road and got her neighbors to chase after her and once they caught the loon placated her by acting out her favorite stories while on quaaludes and now you the viewer get to watch along and that is the birth of Faerie Tale Theatre. So the intros are pretty perfect. But, even better than all of that? The Gaylord credit that pops up right before–because I am a five-year-old. But then again, this show clearly isn’t for five-year-olds:
Second things second: Unlike most child-geared entertainment, where the writers get their kicks by covertly lacing in the filth, Faerie Tale Theatre gets its jollies by dumping it all over the place like a home vacuum test. In The Frog Prince (written and directed by Eric Idle, go fig) Robin Williams as the Frog doesn’t just stick out his tongue when he’s excited, or anything “uproariously naughty” as such… instead he just flat out demands to sleep with the Princess, and when he does and turns back into a prince, he stays naked in bed with her. Which you know, doesn’t make the King too happy, nor parental watchdog coalitions, nor anyone with eyes. And as far as the above screen captures of Jeff Bridges in Rapunzel go, do I really need to say that while she may be letting down her hair, he’s definitely putting up something else? Or that the words big lebowski just got a new meaning? Or hey, nice rainbow ejaculate? Wait, what?
It makes sense in context, but for now let’s move on to third things third, being…
…Christopher Reeve vs. a giant Beverley D’Angelo!
There’s a lot of things that went into the existence of this image. Because, well, while this Sleeping Beauty stand-off between the Prince and the evil fairy is ripped-off pretty much from the Disney movie version, nothing else is. Here they even keep the 100-years-of-sleep angle from the original tale, so right off the bat you’re dealing with a humongous chronotypal disparity of epic proportions. And yet they manage to pull it off and as usual give us what we want, what we need, and what we could never even conceive.
Now, the action of the Disney version takes place in three days for good reasons. 1) because all those damn movies do no matter what, even 101 Dalmations, and that includes a gestation. 2) so the Prince and the Princess get to fall in love and dance in the forest with owls and shit beforehand so we can forge an emotional investment in their romance, and 3) because having a whole kindgom put to sleep for an arbitrary 100 years until a prince comes at the pre-determined end point is completely anti-fucking-climactic and if it wasn’t for Tchaikovsky no one would give two shits about this stupid story ever. So Faerie Tale Theatre not following suit might seem like a mis-step. But actually, like with everything they do, it’s secretly genius, and the only real decision they could’ve made. It’s titled Sleeping Beauty. Bitch needs to sleep. At least sleep more than Snow White, or else what’s the point? The Duvall Cabal take the best get down to business and make it happen, but still give us the goods.
First, they start from after the sleep’s in place, and have the story told through an axe-cutter to a pair of travelers, which includes Reeve (and uh Ron Rifkin), inquiring about the mysterious castle that’s frozen in time. Then by going back and using Reeve and our Beauty, Bernadette Peters, in dual roles we get to see them interact just as much as in Disney; except better because the roles they play are as a spoiled prince and princess, unfit suitors for our heroes, and funhouse mirror images of who they should really be with. So not only do we get to see Reeve and Peters totally gay/slut it up, but also by taking the 100 year stretch and subtly making it a metaphor of being frustrated by love and having to be patient for the right person, the magical kiss ends up feeling epic, deserved, miraculous, meant to be, amen. Or at least, you know, totes chaste-hot. And we still get the pleasure of the villain smack-down being performed by a character we’ve known since the beginning.
Axe through reality! Ouch!
This also brings us –and thank god because we’re here anyway–to fourth things fourth (and final) of the wonders of Faerie Tale Theatre… and it concerns the biggest and most satisfying villain smack-down known to man. That’s right, everybody, it’s the one… the only… Hansel and Gretel.
Give them around of applause ladies and gentleman. You have two kids here that eat a woman’s house, and then throw her into an oven–and it’s all justified! There’s something so endlessly joyous about this story and this particular version it’s hard for even me to talk about. So let’s just go over a recipe:
How to Turn A Child’s Heart Into Gingerbread
“I’d rather learn to read.”
You’re adorable, but shut the fuck up, Gretel, and watch the master (who just happens to be Joan Collins; oh, the gifts!).
First, you put the kid’s heart into a cookie batter…
Then you open up the skillet…
Then you pour the batter into the skillet. “MMMMMMM. All the way in. Every single bit!”
Next you take him over to your magic oven. “In you go, little fat boy!” <——-actual line
And finally you spin around three times and say the magic words.
“Hearts to batter,
Batter to hearts,
Death’s a treat…
Gretel agrees. But this poor girl would probably be less excited if she knew she was just getting crabshells for dinner.
After all, you don’t just get child-heart gingerbread. It’s not like breadcrumbs, or negligent parents. You have to earn it. ….Apparently in an orgasm contest.
The filth gets laid out once again. “I want fat, fat…rolls of fat!” Collins moans, “Flesh and more flesh…soft…undulating…quivering, jiggling…mountains of young boy flesh!” Eeeyeeesh… and so… the witch wins! But so do Hansel and Gretel.
Well, eventually. And I think so will I, because technology is now at the point where I never have to worry about finding things to replace the comforts of my childhood. The originals are all already at my fingertips. Right now it may be to heal gaping holes in my adolescent jaw, but when I contract my first serious herpe, or have my first heart attack; fall ill to cancer, or AIDS, I know that Faerie Tale Theatre will be there to help me feel better. And if I know that’s there for me, maybe I don’t have to be so proud about the way my inherent laziness takes care of me when I’m under the weather, and instead actually go out and enjoy it. After all, it worked in the long run for the Frog Prince, and Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty. Not so much for Goldilocks though.
But with my teeth in the condition they’re in now, I’m not picky about my porridge.