Television Reviews : 'Lyle Crocodile' on HBO

Parents, don't let your kids watch tonight's "HBO Family Showcase" alone . . . why should they have all the fun?

"Lyle, Lyle Crocodile: The Musical: The House on East 88th Street," airing at 7:30 p.m., is an animated delight featuring the voice of Tony Randall, the tuneful music of Charles Strouse (he won Tony Awards for "Annie" and "Bye Bye Birdie") and the ineffable, lovable Lyle, crocodile extraordinaire , the happy creation of author Bernard Waber.

Based on the first of six Lyle books, "The House on East 88th Street" finds young Joshua and his parents not at all pleased about their move to the big city. The discovery of a crocodile lounging in the upstairs bathtub, however, soon changes their minds.

Left by his owner, a theatrical impresario who can no longer foot his food bill--Lyle only eats Turkish caviar--the endearing crocodile quickly becomes one of the family.

He can juggle, do the dusting, play ball, mix a cake, laugh at jokes and entertain the neighbors.

It seems too good to be true, and it is. Fate steps in and brings a sad separation, but not for long. Who can resist this crocodile's tears?

Clever, original and not a bit sugary, this show, produced by Michael Sporn Animation Inc., is a little gem in every way.

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