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Hbo Storybook Musicals the Country Mouse and the City Mouse: A Christmas Tale

Voices: Crystal Gayle, John Lithgow, Jacy Defilipo, Merwin Goldsmith, Alexander Iwachiw, Heidi Stallings, Larry White.

Voices: Crystal Gayle, John Lithgow, Jacy Defilipo, Merwin Goldsmith, Alexander Iwachiw, Heidi Stallings, Larry White.

Families will find some pleasant diversion when they unwrap this “Storybook” presentation, with an enjoyable story and entertaining characters.

The ancient Aesop fable of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse is re-told here in great early 20th-century costumes and wonderful old New York atmosphere. The animation is limited, but the designs and renderings are outstanding.

Crystal Gayle does a good job singing a couple of original David Evans/Tish Rabe Christmas tunes, but her voice work (as the Country Mouse, Emily) doesn’t keep up, particularly compared with the excellent co-starring perf of John Lithgow (as the City Mouse, Alexander).

And because there isn’t all that much to like about the city in this story or the character of the snooty city cousin, this special seems to be telling kids that country life and country folks are better than their city counterparts, rather than showing there’s good to be found in both and that people should learn to value the good in the choices they’ve made.

This is an enjoyable holiday tale that could have had a slightly more uplifting message.

Hbo Storybook Musicals the Country Mouse and the City Mouse: A Christmas Tale

(Wed. (8), 7:30-8 p.m., HBO)

Production: Filmed by Michael Sporn Animation Inc. for Random House. Exec producer, Sharon Lerner; senior producer, Tish Rabe; producer-director, Sporn; animation director, Rodolfo Damaggio; writer, Maxine Fisher.

Crew: Editor, Ed Askinazi; music, David Evans, Rabe.

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