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Annie: A Royal Adventure

On the Queen Mary, Warbucks is taken with Lady Hogbottom (Joan Collins), who orders her son Rupert (Crispin Bonham Carter) and his bumbling cohort Murphy (Perry Benson) to kidnap Dr. Eon and Annie. You see, Dr. Eon has invented Eonite , a miracle chemical that is used for purposes of good, but in the wrong hands ... and Lady Hogbottom is definitely the wrong hands.

On the Queen Mary, Warbucks is taken with Lady Hogbottom (Joan Collins), who orders her son Rupert (Crispin Bonham Carter) and his bumbling cohort Murphy (Perry Benson) to kidnap Dr. Eon and Annie. You see, Dr. Eon has invented Eonite , a miracle chemical that is used for purposes of good, but in the wrong hands … and Lady Hogbottom is definitely the wrong hands.

Little caper is perfect for the cartoony characters (after all, they are cartoons), but the telepic’s resolution is marred by the saccharine staging and singing of Annie’s signature song, the dreaded “Tomorrow.”

Johnson plays Annie with a wide-eyed spunkiness; the young actress possesses ability and playful hamminess beyond her years.

Collins is a pro, tearing up the scenery and delivering a wonderful villain.

Familiarity of characters — Annie and her friends portrayed here are the ones made famous in the play and feature film — aids viewers who might not have given this wholesome (and sometimes that can be a negative) family pic a look.

“Adventure’s” look and tech credits are tops.

Popular on Variety

Annie: A Royal Adventure

(Sat. (18), 8-10 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed in London by Rastar Prods. in association with TriStar Television. Executive producer, Wendy Dytman; co-executive producer, Ruth Slawson; director, Ian Toynton; writer, Trish Soodnik; camera, Alan Hume; editor, James Galloway; production design, Robin Tarsnane; sound, Michael O'Corrigan, Erin Hale; music, David Michael Frank. Cast: Ashley Johnson, Joan Collins, George Hearn, Ian McDiarmid, Emily Ann Lloyd, Camilla Bell, Crispin Bonham Carter, Perry Benson, George Wood, Anthony Zaki, David Tse, Jayne Ashbourne, Carol Cleveland, Buffy Davis, Ian Redford, Timothy Bateson, Deborah Maclaren, Ann Morrish, Jessie. The durable little orphan from the funny papers makes her TV movie debut in an innocuous, breezy adventure. Telepic should appeal to small children -- especially girls -- and their parents won't find it too hard to sit through. Good use of London locations and high-quality production values, plus the spunky charm of Annie (Ashley Johnson), make this "Adventure" easy to watch, although sticky-sweet corniness invades the last reel. Daddy Warbucks (George Hearn) is called to London to be knighted, so he takes Annie and her pal Hannah (Emily Ann Lloyd) with him, along with Dr. Eli Eon (Ian McDiarmid) and faithful companions the Asp (David Tse) and Punjab (Anthony Zaki). Little Molly (Camilla Bell) from the orphanage is the girls' stowaway.

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