February 28, 2000 12:00 PM

NBC (Sun., Feb. 27, and Sun., March 5, 9 p.m. ET; Mon., Feb. 28, Wed., March 1, and Mon., March 6, 8 p.m. ET)

“I can make you break rocks with your teeth for 100 years,” says the boss of Snow White Memorial Prison in Part 1 of The 10th Kingdom. By comparison, watching this miniseries for 10 hours isn’t so tough an assignment. But a fantasy that would have been diverting over two nights is dismaying over five.

In Part 2, three Stooge-like trolls discuss rolling a giant joint made of “dwarf moss.” Which brings up the question: What was writer Simon Moore (who adapted Gulliver’s Travels for the hit 1996 miniseries) smoking when he dreamed up this plot? Contemporary father-and-daughter New Yorkers (John Larroquette and Kimberly Williams) step through a magic mirror into a fairytale realm where Snow White is a godmotherly Camryn Manheim, Ann-Margret plays a 200-year-old (but well-preserved) Cinderella, and a wicked queen (Dianne Wiest) turns a prince (Daniel Lapaine) into a dog as part of a scheme to kill or enslave everyone in sight. Williams falls in love with a half-man, half-wolf (a hardworking Scott Cohen) and discovers after eight hours that there’s some unexpectedly serious meaning to this madness. Larroquette gets laughs with his querulous sarcasm but looks silly trying to squeeze out a few tears in Part 5. And when all is said and done…it isn’t! The epic ends with the broad hint of a sequel.

Bottom Line: Too big for its beanstalk

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