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“Okay listen up because I’m only gonna say this once: open the door…or I’m gonna huff and I’m gonna puff and I’m gonna…blow your house in, whaddaya think of that?”
– The Big Bad Wolf’s ultimatum, as delivered by the only actor who could do it justice
All right, we’ve finally come to an episode many of you have been waiting for. For some fans this is peak Faerie Tale Theatre, and I agree with them. This outing has everything: a funderful cast (my way of saying fun+wonderful), clever writing, and humor coming out the wazoo. You’re in for a treat.
But first, the obligatory story behind the story.
This is another English fairytale brought to us by folklorist Joseph Jacobs in 1890, four years before he published his findings on Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ origins. Jacobs credited fellow nursery rhyme collector James Halliwell-Phillips as the source of The Three Little Pigs story. The earliest known version has a very different cast from the one we know: instead of three pigs and a wolf, it’s three pixies and a fox, and their houses were made of wood, stone and iron rather than straw, sticks and bricks. The reason behind the changes in the definitive English version are unclear; one theory is that the divergence comes from someone mishearing the word “pixie” as “pigsie”.
The fable has a few international variations, though much less than what I’ve come to expect doing this research each month. Italian retellings dating from the same era Jacobs published his story replace the pigs with geese. The one Joel Chandler Harris recorded in his
collection of Uncle Remus tales appropriation of African mythology has six pigs instead of three. The one consistent theme running through them all is the moral of hard work, resourcefulness and careful planning paying off.
That’s not to say this story has some underlying darkness to it. In some iterations, even the perspective-flipped The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, the wolf eats the first two pigs after blowing down their houses. The original fairytale also ends with the third little pig tricking the wolf, killing and eating him instead! This has been toned down in future retellings, understandably so. Regardless, the rule of three in effect as well as the fun nonsense phrases like “not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin” has helped this tale remain a memorable one. Now, let’s see how Faerie Tale Theatre puts their spin on it.Continue reading