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JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER ($25) is one of the greatest delights ever brought to broadcast television. The nine episode series brought to life a group of wonderful, albeit obscure, fairy tales through the magic of Jim Hensonís Creature Shop. Using film, video and some rather old-fashioned techniques, JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER proved to be one of the most visually inventive programs to show up in the late 1980s. A long sought after commodity JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER arrived on DVD via Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. For those unfamiliar with this charming show, JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER starred John Hurt as the title character and featured the vocal talents of Brian Henson as The Storytellerís amusing canine companion.

The nine episodes that comprised the limited run series are as follows. The Soldier And Death is a truly excellent episode in which a soldier makes some acquisitions that allow him to triumph over death, with unexpected results. Fearnot is the story of a lad who goes in search of the true meaning of fear. The Luck Child is a boy foretold in prophecy; who is destined to become king, much to the dismay of the wicked sovereign already sitting on the throne. A Story Short features The Storyteller himself, in a tale in which his life hangs in the balance over a story.

Hans My Hedgehog is a personal favorite, that tells of a hedgehog born to human parents and an enchantment that involves a beautiful princess. The Three Ravens is the story of a widowed king, an evil witch, and a princess, who must remain silent to break a curse. Sapsorrow is an interesting variation on the Cinderella story, with a princess disguising her true identity, only to meet a prince at a ball. The Heartless Giant tells of the kindly a kindly prince who releases an imprisoned giant, but then has to undo the deed and rescue his two older brothers from the creature. The True Bride is the story of an orphan girl, who is aided by a lion, against a couple of trolls that are making her life miserable.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made the episodes from JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The quality of the presentations is merely adequate, owning to the limitations in the shows original production techniques and the fact that all nine episodes have been shoehorned onto a single DVD. Everything appears a bit soft and gauzy, certainly not up to typical DVD standards, but certainly watchable. Colors have pretty good saturation, but can come across as fuzzy. Digital compression artifacts are somewhat noticeable, but not particularly bothersome. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is television caliber stereo with very mild separations and respectable fidelity. The music sounds fine and dialogue is always understandable. No other language tracks or subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features. Trailers for THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH have been included as extras.

JIM HENSON'S THE STORYTELLER is a series that I am glad has made its DVD debut, even if the presentation is a bit lackluster. If you are a fan of the series, youíll want to check out the disc for yourself.



The Storyteller Collection (1987)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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