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Television Review : 'The Storyteller: Fearnot'

October 26, 1987|LYNNE HEFFLEY

"Fearnot," the second of Jim Henson's intermittent "The Storyteller" shows for NBC, is a visual treat for those with a taste for the weird and wonderful. (It airs tonight at 8:30 on Channels 4, 36 and 39.)

John Hurt, enjoyably reprising his role as the reclusive Storyteller, narrates an odd little tale of a fearless young man who seeks to feel fear. Written by Anthony Minghella, directed by Steve Barron, "Fearnot" is based on a German folk tale, a slight story made rich through the telling.

Fearnot (Reece Dinsdale) encounters a tinker (Willie Ross) who helpfully attempts to kindle the boy's fright with a visit to some truly awful monsters.

"And off they went, a most fanciful peregrination," Hurt says, spinning out the tale with relish, conjuring up the story's characters in the flames of a blazing fire.

Neither the eerie Sisters of the Deep--intent on drowning unsuspecting mortals--nor the stalk-eyed lake demon sends a shiver up Fearnot's spine.

He only laughs at the diabolical Half Man (Frederick Warder), who plays skittles with human bones, gambling for Fearnot's legs.

In the end, Fearnot discovers it is only his lady love, the fair Lidia, who has the power to make him shudder with terror.

It's not much of a plot, but who cares? Engagingly unusual, this half-hour zips by, fascinating the viewer with its eccentric cast, bizarre sets, moody special effects and Henson's delicious creations.

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