The StoryTeller 1.8 – Sapsorrow

The last of the nine StoryTellers to get an American network airing was “Sapsorrow,” and it was packaged together with a MuppeTelevision that guest starred k.d. lang and aired as the ninth Jim Henson Hour on July 30, 1989. I think having lang as a guest then was a curious but delightful choice, since she was still largely unknown at the time. It must have been taped at least a couple of months prior to the release of her fourth album, Absolute Torch and Twang, but since the Hour had been axed in April, it served as a nice little bit of promotion for a record that was getting great critical reviews. Sadly, of course, not very many people tuned in to NBC that Sunday evening, but if they had, they’d have seen some good music and a very entertaining StoryTeller.

“Sapsorrow” is based on an early variant of Cinderella, with wicked sisters and woodland friends, and a much, much creepier little bit of menace that 20th Century tellings of the tale omit: the whole business of the shoe fitting a humble girl without royal blood is actually a clever mirror to how the story began. The girl, Sapsorrow, was a princess in the first place, but fled her life in disguise to avoid a similar, yet nastier, rule about a ring that fit only her finger. Since we saw a fractured fairy tale version of Cinderella on Xena a few weeks ago, I think seeing the tale’s origins made for nice symmetry.

The kid recognized where the story was going, but in keeping with this blog’s longest running “joke,” he didn’t recognize Geoffrey Bayldon, who he has seen dozens of times as the original Crowman and as Catweazle. Joining him as his three daughters, Alison Doody, who had a starring role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that same summer, plays Sapsorrow and is brilliant. Comedy legends Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders play her hideous sisters, and are magnificently repulsive. It was another fine little production and we enjoyed it very much.

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