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Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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We gave it an A-

As portrayed by Tatum O’Neal, who has made a career of precocious, bratty roles, this Goldilocks is the kind of kid parents would rush to put on a sugar-free diet. Modern terms would have her ”overimaginative,” ”extremely excitable,” and ”possessing high levels of curiosity and intelligence” (in other words, you can’t keep her in the house, she likes to throw tantrums, and she is an inventive, talented liar).

In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a playful, live-action Faerie Tale Theatre presentation, originally produced in 1983 by Shelley Duvall for Showtime, she is a natural foil for the Bears, who are as honest and gullible as they are furry. (Their alarm clock has only four settings: summer, fall, winter, and spring.) Poppa Bear (Alex Karras) tells his son he can go out and play but must ”stay within growling distance.” Mama Bear is a homey, reassuring presence. And Cubby Bear is awfully cute, jumping up to play and asking so many questions that Poppa Bear can’t resist the urge to tickle him.

But Cubby never gets quite as carried away as Goldilocks, whose lying leads to all kinds of trouble — she runs away to play with the Bear family, a forest ranger comes looking for her, and, to cover up her rule-breaking, she accuses the Bears of kidnapping her. Only the sight of their hurt faces makes her stop.

As the ranger on the lookout for a ”female Caucasian with beautiful hair,” singer Hoyt Axton lends a friendly, law-abiding perspective to Goldilocks’ mischief. Full of gently ironic examples, porch-sitting parents (John Lithgow and Carole King), and neighborly regard, the lesson of the little girl who learns to respect the boundaries of others is never too harsh or too light — it’s just right. A-