Classic fairy tales are reimagined in present-day New York in the dark, CBS All Access series “Tell Me a Story.” The forests and cottages of those old fables are an urban jungle here, populated with power brokers, male go-go dancers and most shocking, Kim Cattrall playing the role of a protective grandmother.
The series, which premieres Wednesday, deconstructs versions of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel” and “The Three Little Pigs” then interweaves bits of each story into a psychological thriller that stretches over 10 hourlong episodes delivered weekly.
And the upscale restaurateur Jordan (Wolk) has it all — a girlfriend he adores, a luxe apartment, a perfect jawline and six-pack abs … until he meets the three pigs.
These men in masks are up to no good so do their best to blend in at police brutality protests where the crowd has come dressed as swine. Then something goes horribly wrong, and, no, it does not involve a cottage made of straw, though one of the pigs does live in a dilapidated trailer with a leaky roof, so perhaps it will be blown down in an ensuing storm. We can only hope.
The beauty of this series is that the characters here aren’t straight interpretations of the traditional figures from children’s storybooks. The piggies start out as the bad guys, for example, and it feels like Little Red Riding Hood could, in fact, turn into the wolf at any turn. And because the series doesn’t drop all at once, the suspense is allowed to build from episode to episode.
“Tell Me a Story” is not another fish-out-of-water story, where fairy-tale characters are transported from a fantasy world to reality. It’s more like the Brothers Grimm meets “13 Reasons Why,” a perfect combination of childhood frightmares, teen angst and adult drama.
“Tell Me a Story” debuts on Halloween during a week when nothing that’s cooked up in a writers’ room could be scarier than what reality has handed us. But these revamped fables don’t aim to scare. They enthrall and entertain while holding up a mirror to the best and worst impulses of mankind. And aren’t those the best kind of fairy tales?