Tell Me a Story (2018) TV Series Review

Tell Me a Story is an American psychological thriller web television anthology series, based on the Spanish television series Cuéntame un Cuento created by Marcos Osorio Vidal, that premiered on October 31, 2018, on CBS All Access. The series was created by Kevin Williamson and stars James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Dania Ramirez, Danielle Campbell, Dorian Crossmond Missick, Sam Jaeger, Davi Santos, Michael Raymond-James, Zabryna Guevara, Paul Wesley, and Kim Cattrall. On December 17, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season, which premiered on December 5, 2019.

My Personal Thoughts

"Hope" -- Episode #101 --Pictured (l-r): Dorian Missick as Sam; Paul Wesley as Eddie; Michael Raymond-James as Micth of the CBS All Access series TELL ME A STORY. Photo Cr: Patrick Harbron/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive

With opening credits that show Little Red Riding Hood being raped by the Big Bad Wolf, “Tell Me a Story” is about as fun and understated as you might expect. The new CBS All Access series from Kevin Williamson, master of dark and icky shows like “Stalker” and “The Following,” attempts to twist classic fairy tales into his dark and icky mindset (never mind that these stories are already pretty grim). When viewed through their fairy-tale origins, the tales are laughably contrived. As standalone stories, they’re as ugly as they are trite.

Season 1 focuses on “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” Sam (Dorian Missick), Eddie (Paul Wesley), and Mitch (Michael Raymond-James) stand in as the not-so-little pigs, forming a hapless gang of jewelry store robbers whose story bookends the premiere. Presumably, Eddie is going through with the heist to fix his leaky roof in the shoddy shack he calls home — probably made of straw (get it?) — and his brother Mitch is joining him to provide for his family, but the metaphors don’t end there. In case anyone is confused why the formerly innocent swine of the O.G. fairy tale are now corrupt, gun-toting killers, don’t worry about it: They’re wearing pig masks, and there are three of them.

Perhaps you’d argue the pigs are still victims in this dark new world, and they’ve been driven to violence by circumstance. That’s still too far of a reach, but one that’s also required to swallow Williamson’s spin on “Hansel and Gretel.” Hannah (Dania Ramirez) and Gabe (Davi Santos) are siblings, but they’ve grown apart since moving to the woods, aka New York City. Hannah is a cop and a veteran, while her brother is a burlesque dancer and a drug addict. When he gets in trouble (lured to a dangerous house! by drugs!), she comes to his rescue. From there, it’s only a question of what duck will ferry them home safely.

Not that that makes a lick of sense. Where’s home? Is it Gabe’s seedy drug den? Is it their unknown parents’ house? Is that a twist yet to drop in this confusing allegory? Despite the overt attempts at grounding the series in a familiar setting — Trump, of all things, is a regular topic of conversation — little in “Tell Me a Story” follows logic, let alone realism. But the third story is where things start to turn vile.

"Loss" -- Episode #102 -- Pictured: James Wolk as Jordan of TELL ME A STORY for CBS All Access. Photo Cr: Patrick Harbron/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

Kayla (Danielle Campbell) has just moved to NYC, after the death of her mother forced her dad to relocate the family in hopes of a “fresh start.” After all, Kayla made some bad friends and developed some bad habits after the tragedy — a 17-year-old smoked pot, you guys! — so clearly the Big Apple is a better place for her than the west coast. Somehow, Kayla keeps making trouble in the quiet little town of Manhattan. She grabs her fake ID, sneaks out of the house, downs some molly with a swig of vodka, and meets the sweetest man you’ve ever laid eyes on. Of course, he lays eyes on her first, staring her down with ferocious intensity that somehow reads as charming to Kayla. The two hook up, and, well, anything else would be a spoiler, but the twist should range from yucky to sickening.

I will rate this TV series 6/10.

GenrePsychological thriller
Created byKevin Williamson
Based onCuéntame un cuento
by Marcos Osorio Vidal
StarringJames Wolk Billy Magnussen Dania Ramirez Danielle Campbell Dorian Crossmond Missick Sam Jaeger Davi Santos Michael Raymond-James Zabryna Guevara Paul Wesley Kim Cattrall Odette Annable Matt Lauria Eka Darville Natalie Alyn Lind Ashley Madekwe Phillip Rhys Carrie-Anne Moss
Composer(s)John Frizzel
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Gonzalo Cilley Andres Tovar Dana Honor Aaron Kaplan Liz Friedlander Kevin Williamson
Producer(s)Colin Walsh Hollie Overton
CinematographyDoug Emmett Charles Grubbs
Editor(s)Andrew Groves Emily Greene Brock Hammitt Roseanne Tan Zachary Dehm
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time42–53 minutes
Production company(s)Resonant Outerbanks Entertainment Kapital Entertainment
Release
Original networkCBS All Access
Original releaseOctober 31, 2018 –
present

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