BetteBack April 18, 1992: Bette Midler Narrates ‘Weird Parents’

Cedar Rapids Gazette
April 18, 1992

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I am not quite sure why Showtime decided to call Shelley Duvall’s latest series of children’s programs “Bedtime Stories.” The stories certainly won’t put children to sleep, judging by two episodes previewed this week – but that’s meant to be high praise.

“Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories” debuts on Showtime Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with the episode “Elbert’s Bad Word/Weird Parents.” Another previewed episode, “Elizabeth and Larry/Bill and Pete” airs April 28. The series continues through May 26.

When reviewing children’s shows, ifs best to go right to the experts so I put my 4-year-old and 6-year-old to work. Both were completely enthralled by the programs, with hardly a squirm or wiggle evident during the viewing.

Actress Duvall (“Popeye”) has developed quite a reputation over the years in producing high quality children’s programming; her previous efforts include the award-winning Showtime series “Fairie Tale Theatre” in 1982.

This latest series seems to continue the tradition. The shows transfer high quality children’s books to animated form and Duvall hosts and taps actor-pals to narrate.

“Elbert,” based on the book by Audrey Wood, is narrated by Ringo Starr. It’s about a boy who is harassed by a “bad word” that takes the form of a fuzzy little worm like thing. “Weird Parents,” also a Wood book, is narrated by Bette Midler. It tells of an average boy and his embarrassment over having “weird parents.”

“Elizabeth and Larry,” narrated by Jean Stapleton, is based on the book by Marilyn Sadler.

It’s the tale of a woman and her pet alligator who thinks he’s a person. “Bill and Pete” was written and illustrated by Tomi de Paola who exhibited at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in November 1990. It’s narrated by Dudley Moore and tells of a crocodile on the Nile whose toothbrush happens to be a bird and his best friend.

My fellow reviewers gave thumbs up to all four segments but “Elizabeth and Larry” garnered the highest praise: “This is a good one!”

Each mentioned a part that stood out for them.

The animation for “Bedtime Stories” is good, the narration spirited and perfectly geared to younger viewers. The tales are mixed enough to appeal to a range of ages (recommended for 2- to 6-year-olds but kids a little older probably still will enjoy them) and all contain a moral ranging from, “It’s OK to have ”˜weird parents’ because they love you even if they are weird,” to “Problems can be solved by working together.”

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