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Buried Treasure: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Get Down With These Cameos

May 24th, 2011 by Naivasha D Associate Producer

Like many Hulu users, I can usually find more than enough great content in our “Most Popular” section to keep me entertained, informed, and slightly less productive all day.

But I’ve always been one to root for the underdog.

So, in that spirit, I decided to start stepping out of my “30 Rock” and “Modern Family”-furnished comfort zone to explore Hulu’s treasure trove of diverse library content that often gets lost in the shadows of our most-watched shows, or Stewie Griffin’s giant head.

There are a lot engrossing movies, TV shows, and clips up there. It can be daunting. But I’ll be donning my miner’s helmet and doing a little digging to unearth some real hidden gems. —— Naivasha D

Everyone likes to occasionally relive their childhoods and savor the fond memories of simpler times. If you’re craving that injection of nostalgia, but can’t make it to Disneyland, Shelley Duval’s Faerie Tale Theatre on Hulu Plus is the place to get it. Even if you didn’t catch these kooky, campy episodes on Showtime or PBS in the ’80s, you’ll recognize all the fantastical landscapes, star-crossed lovers, and creepy villains from your favorite bed time stories. Each live-action episode, introduced by ethereal actress Shelley Duval, is a dreamy journey through a timeless fairy tale.

As you might expect, the storylines demand a load of special effects, which are endearingly shabby and antiquated, adding to the whimsy. The Little Mermaid, for the obvious reason of taking place largely under water, is a great episode to get a dosage of those.

But the best reason to watch is the bizarre assortment of unexpected cameos from some of the most famous names in entertainment. A young and buxom Helen Mirren competes with The Little Mermaid for the prince’s affection, and fellow Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges rescues Rapunzel. Matthew Broderick sweeps Cinderella off her feet, and Susan Sarandon charms the Beast.

The music industry also contributes a collection of big names, with Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, and Frank Zappa all making classic appearances.

A few famous directors also lend their clout, including Francis Ford Coppola and Tim Burton (no shocker there). Burton directs an unsettling version of Aladdin where James Earl Jones makes everyone uncomfortable as a scantily clad, bipolar Genie.

Since the series is made for children, the dark and gory eeriness of some of the original tales is dampened, although the plots adhere to the originals more than in their Disneyized counterparts. If you’re really looking to get the willies though, look no farther than the Robin Williams’ unwittingly creepy costume as the insistently seductive Frog Prince.

If you love these fanciful fairy tales and want more, or are feeling patriotic, also check out Shelley Duval’s Tall Tales & Legends on Hulu, which features state-side stories like Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crockett.