There were those in 1989 who bellyached that Disney Television's Polly was a far from faithful adaptation of Eleanor Porter's classic novel Pollyanna. What they meant was that Polly did not resemble the 1960 Hayley Mills movie version of Pollyanna, which itself played fast and loose with the source material. In Polly, The Cosby Show's Keshia Knight Pulliam portrays the "Glad Girl" who brings along a satchelful of happiness and optimism when she visits her wealthy aunt one summer. Tranposing Porter's all-white story to a middle-class black community in the Alabama of the 1950s (Celeste Holm is the only white costar) isn't nearly as self-conscious or gimmicky as it seems on paper. Nor is any damage done to the original by adding musical numbers, especially when taking into consideration that the film was directed by renowned choreographer Debbie Allen (the sister of Phylicia Rashad, who plays Polly's aunt--and who in 1989 was costarring with Keshia Knight Pulliam on a weekly basis on The Cosby Show). Polly scored a boffo ratings hit, prompting Disney TV to assemble a 1990 sequel, Polly: Comin' Home!
by Hal Erickson synopsis