Anthony Hopkins as Quasimodo: was this remake necessary?
Are you ready for another version of Hugo's ''The Hunchback of Notre Dame''? With a kind of lovable Quasimodo?
One of the world's earliest Gothic classics, ''The Hunchback'' has had its central figure played by Lon Chaney, Charles Laughton, and, most recently, Anthony Quinn. They all made him into an unreconstructed monster.
Now along comes Anthony Hopkins. His Quasimodo is traditionally misshapen, but he plays him with a twinkle in his good eye. ''The Hunchback of Notre Dame'' (CBS, Thursday, 9-11 p.m.) is still another in the series of classics, produced with great panache by Norman Rosemont, who was also responsible for the recent superb productions of ''Little Lord Fauntleroy,'' ''The Count of Monte Cristo,'' ''The Man in the Iron Mask,'' and ''Les Miserables.'' Never let it be said that Norman Rosemont doesn't recognize a good old thing when he sees it.
He has come a bit a cropper with ''Hunchback,'' however. This French novel is impeccably cast . . . with a dazzling array of fine British actors. Besides Hopkins, there is Derek Jacobi as the would-be philandering Dom Claude, and John Gielgud in such a bit part that you may miss him if you blink your eyes, or close them for a few moments' relief from the predictable story (as may very well be the case with many viewers).
But then there is the most genteel gypsy girl you ever saw, Esmeralda. As played by Lesley-Anne Down, Esmeralda manages to go through her ordeal without ever letting down her lifted pinky (symbolically speaking, that is). But what matter--she looks appropriately attractive as she bangs her tambourine in a gypsy dance that is about as fiery as a minuet.
With its cute, minimally grotesque Quasimodo, its beautiful gypsy girl who seems to be on her way to a society costume ball, its marvelous sets and locations, this version of ''The Hunchback'' is not one of the best of the high-quality Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. It somehow poses there at the top of the steeple like a flagpole sitter waiting for the photographer to record his deed.