Monday, August 25, 2008

Jeff MacKay 1948-2008

           Jeff is to the immediate right of Stephen Collins

Wow. Just wow.

It is with great sadness that I write here that Jeff MacKay, who played "Mac" on Magnum P.I. passed away from a brief illness.

Magnum P.I. is not only one of the greatest shows that ever aired, but Mac was an indelible character on the show. The two part episode Did You See the Sun Rise has to be one of the great moments of television. MacKay played two characters on the show, Lieutenant 'Mac' MacReynolds & after that character's death in Sunrise, he reprised his role as Mac lookalike Jim Bonig.

MacKay was a mainstay on television in the 70s and 80s. Here's a brief filmography:

Dr. Shrinker (1976)
Baa Baa, Black Sheep (1976)
Battlestar Galactica (1979)
The Wild, Wild West Revisited (1979)
Midnight Offerings (1981)
Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982)
Airwolf (1984)

A memorial site has already been set up for him. Please visit:
Respectance Jeff MacKay

I hate being so pressed for time. I am hoping that I can do a much better retrospective on him in the near future. He was a wonderful actor and I will miss him. My heart and thoughts go out to his family and friends. Rest in Peace Mac. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dark Night of the Scarecrow Coming to DVD! Oh. My. God.

That's right! Dark Night of the Scarecrow won't just be a hard to find video (or a DVD bootleg) no mo'!

Image Emtertainment is planning a big ol' fancy DVD for 2009. This is a reason to cheer! Dark Night is one of the most terrifying TV Movies ever made and is one of the few made for television movies that rivals its theatrical counterparts. 

Not to mention that Charles Durning has to be one of the all time nastiest villians in the annals of television villians. Yeah, I said it. And I meant it!

So, I will keep you up to date on info as I receive it myself!



Friday, August 22, 2008

Sharing the Love...

Not just sharing the love with Parker today!

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a great blog, which I posted a link to in one of my ever-so-witty-and-brilliant posts. The site in question, is Anchorwoman in Peril. I loved it so much over there, I posted many, MANY comments and Ross was nice enough to come over here and not only check out my sctuff, but to post a bit and even give me a mention on his great site! Well, I got two on there now. Go check out his newest post on a new-ish Karen Black oddity called Trilogy of Murder (insert self-aware nod here). On this blog post you'll find a little bit of info and a link I came across for a site with a trailer for this direct-to-video thing-a-mah-jig.

And thanks Ross for stopping by and interacting and stuff with me over here. It's been a treat having you here and on the boards!

You get to see this adorable guy on my boards!

In fact, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken their time to stop by and look around. I've been noticing an upswing in my hits and I'm loving it. I'm kind of out of humor today... bad day... so I'll just state the facts as they are... This blog has been a dream of mine. Why it's taken me so long to get off my duff is anyone's guess, but I'm glad I made it here!

Have a great TV Movie filled weekend!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pray for the Wildcats (1974)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: January 23rd, 1974

Can you dig it, man? I mean, can you?

Pray for the Wildcats is one of those crazy made for TV movies that eerily comes across as more grindhouse-y, more psychedelic than you’d think any small screen could handle. And check this out - it's got William Shatner, Robert Reed, Marjoe Gortner and Andy Griffith all playing lost souls who take a motorbike trip across the desert together. That's all kinds of groovy!

Shatner, Reed and Gortner work for an advertising agency desperate to get Sam Farragut's (Andy Griffith) business. Oh, they get the business alright, but not the kind you can put on the books, you dig? Each man is dealing with his own demons and has a lot riding on getting Farragut to sign on. Reed is struggling with his swingin' housewife, Gortner is trying to be a cool cat in a world of dirty deals and Shatner is a dedicated business man who plans on killing himself during the trip. Farragut's take no prisoners attitude brings out the best and the worst in these partners.

Oddly (or not so oddly, depending), this film has a lot of motorcycle riding filler moments. I say odd because storywise this film seems anything but sparse. There are lots of layers to these characters as their scenarios keep getting more and more dangerous and deadly. Their real personalities are revealed, which some aren't so happy about.

Griffith, who made the world fall in love with him as amiable Sheriff Andy on the Andy Griffith Show, wreaks havoc as the bad guy, something he did quite often in made for TV movies. Check out his take on The Most Dangerous Game in Savages and his portrayal as a down on his luck superintendent in The Strangers in 7A. Both performances are nothing short of amazing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're all "But he did that in A Face in the Crowd in the 50s"... but this is 70s Made for TV, man! As Angie Dickinson would say in Pray, "Get it together, lah-ver!"

Oh yeah, didn't I mention Angie Dickinson is in this? Well, she is and she's fabulous. Every line delivery is given with such slang-filled aplomb I'm surprised she could say most of her lines with a straight face. Lorraine Gary from Jaws plays Shatner's plain Jane wife.

At one point, Griffin says one of my favorite pieces of dialog. "I'm kind of a hippie myself. I'm a hippie with money. Old fashion rules about what is right and wrong just hang loose and you let it all happen, ain't that right?" I love this line because it kind of sums up the struggle of traditional standards trying to survive in a world gone wild. Andy was pretty deep, hmmm?

The barren desert can almost be considered its own character and adds to the feeling of remoteness and despondency each man faces. The score is full of great psychedelic horns and some amazing wah-wah guitar and it's a great addition.

Shatner fans will be besides themselves, but this movie belongs to Andy all the way… So, like, don’t be a square and catch this, man!

X Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

OK, this review fits. Think about it. A television show made into a theatrical film that feels like a made for TV movie! Wow. Everything I’ve dreamed of and more!

I’ve been a long time fan of the X Files from episode #1. At that time, only one other person I knew was watching the show. How surprising it was that a year later it had become the biggest thing going around. I went to the conventions, I’ve met some of the actors and a group of friends and I used to meet every Friday to salivate over that night’s episode. I collected every book, magazine and book on tape I could get my hands on and spent hours hypothesizing over why Scully chose not to believe.

At some point, this phenomenon, at least for me, kind of burned out. I watched the show until it ended, but I lost that fervor I once had just a few seasons before. I’m not sure what changed in me, but I do know it wasn’t just the show. Yeah, it wasn’t the same after Mulder left, but it was still one of the better shows on television. I think I was just growing up and responsibility took hold over entertainment. Those are bittersweet memories for me.

I Want to Believe brought back some of that feeling that I had in the beginning. It’s basically an episode of the show shot for the theater. It’s a good idea to check any preconceived notions you may have at the door. This is not Fight the Future, which was a mind boggling, epic version of the series. It was good, but it’s not this movie which harkens back to the first few seasons of the show, when it was just finding its true strength. I Want to Believe is far more cerebral than Fight could ever hope to be. This movie reminded me a lot of the episode Beyond the Sea (Season One, Episode Twelve), which is the episode where Scully first has to deal with the contradictions of the faith she was brought up on and the idea that something else is out there. In fact, Beyond is referenced in I Want to Believe. A couple of other episodes are too (like Clyde Bruckman's Repose), but this is the one that sticks.


Six years have gone by and Scully has given up the bureau and taken a gig as a medical doctor at a Catholic church. Even here, Scully is constantly questioning her faith as she wonders why a God would bring a child into the world only to take it away. But for Scully, this lifestyle has become preferable and she’d rather only think of the X Files as something from her past. She is now completely coupled with Mulder who spends his days as an armchair investigator, ripping various articles out of papers in the desperate hope that he can find something… anything that will have made his years with the FBI worthwhile. When a FBI agent goes missing, Mulder and Scully are pulled back into the fray of bureaucratic red tape and adversity. Here they encounter an ex-priest convicted of pedophilia. He claims to have extrasensory powers and is helping the FBI locate the agent. Aside from being a potential con-artist looking for attention and redemption, he also brings up all those questions Scully had been tangling with.

I Want to Believe is great, but I’m not sure why it was released not only in the summer months, a time for giant action packed blockbusters, but also released one week after the mega-hit The Dark Knight. This is the kind of movie that would fare much better in fall, when audiences are more prone to watching smaller, more character driven stories. Ultimately, I Want to Believe was a box office flop, but as a film that makes you think, and as one that draws you closer to two of the best characters the small screen ever saw, this movie is nothing short of a spectacular winner.

Still beautiful after all of these years

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Mike Connors!

Today reliable actor Mike Connors turns 83! I looked him up and saw his last appearance was in 2007 on the sitcom Two and a Half Men. Nice to see Mr. Connors is still out there, pleasing audiences.

Connors is probably best remembered for his role as private eye Joe Mannix on the hit television series Mannix, which ran from 1967 - 1975. Connors was in his early 40s at that time (remember when they hired actors because of talent and were not discriminated because of their age? I also think of James Garner in The Rockford Files, but he was also way super hot, so I'm sure that factored in!). Mannix was created by Richard Levinson & William Link who were the extraordinary duo behind the creation of other popular crime shows like Columbo and Ellery Queen. Connors was nominated for four Golden Globes & four Emmys for his portrayal of this character (He won one Golden Globe).

There goes Mike, being all handsome!

He doesn't have a ton of Made for Television Movie credits under his belt, but Connors was a welcome face in a slew of wildly divergent titles that crossed every genre from crime to disaster to melodrama to comedy.

With well over five decades in the business (and counting!), I thought it would be nice to acknowledge such a likeable, professional mainstay of television on his birthday. Not that he'll read this, but it makes me feel good! So there!

Happy Birthday Mike Connors! And MANY more!!!

Mike Connors' Television Movie Filmography (70s & 80s):

Beg, Borrow or Steal (1973)
The Killer Who Wouldn't Die (1976)
Revenge for a Rape (1976)
Long Journey Back (1978)
The Death of Ocean View Park (1979)
High Midnight (1979)
The Bureau (1981)
Earthlings (1984)
Glitter (1984)

Mike Connors and Dick Van Dyke during their Diagnosis Murder days

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bad Ronald (1974)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: October 23rd, 1974

A classic of the made for television genre, Bad Ronald is an almost perfect time capsule of what television filmmakers were trying to accomplish. Quiet, claustrophobic and disturbing, Bad Ronald gets better with each viewing.

A killer smile!

Ronald (Scott Jacoby) is a lonely mama's boy. On his birthday, he gets the gumption to ask a female classmate to a movie. When she refuses (and brutally so), he takes it out on a taunting little girl and accidentally kills her. He confesses his crime to his mother, who walls him up in the bathroom located in the center of their house. Here is where Ronald lives, coming out only at night (through a hole in the cabinets) for food and conversation. He spends his days studying (because his mom believes he will still become a doctor), doing his exercises and creating the fantasy world of Atrana. One day his mom checks into the hospital but doesn't check out and soon after, a new family moves in (lead by Dabney Coleman!). Ronald, who has now been fending for himself with nothing but chocolate and a fantasy world, gets really bad. He drills holes in the walls so he can watch the daughters. The youngest girl bears a striking resemblance to Princess Vancetta of Atrana, so guess who Ronald puts his sights on?

First clue, it's not this nosey lady!

I watched this movie a couple of years ago with a group. What I remember most is that people who grew up on these television films in the 70s were enamored with Ronald, while the younger ones found it boring. For me, it's impossible to imagine someone thinking Bad Ronald wasn't this super disturbed horror fest, but you know, I'm old and stuff... Like Gargoyles, this is a movie where it helps to be a fan of the sub-genre.

Having said that, I love this movie and think it's damn near perfect. I still have a difficult time getting what the naysayers are nagging about, and Ronald remains one of the best films of the decade. The build-up is agonizing and the payoff (i.e. the scene with the peephole) is abso-freaking-unbelievably terrifying. I love making up words!

The money shot!

Ronald is also not that unlikable... at first. He's kind of a sad sack. Pining for acceptance, but still perfectly comfortable with his mother and not regretful of their relationship. He's confused and lost and Atrana aptly captures his deep need for friendship.

Scott Jacoby was an amazing actor. He was nominated for an Emmy for his performance in the excellent tele-film That Certain Summer, and he always put his all into every film he starred in. Most recently, I saw him in Smash-Up on Interstate 5and really enjoyed the layers he gave to his character. Like Ronald, he was someone you rooted for even though you were a little afraid of him. He worked on into the 90s, mostly doing direct to video horror towards the end. He made some good movies... but I think for most of us, Bad Ronald will remain his tour de force.

Here's a look at the elusive book that started it all!

This pic looks to be him circa the 90s. Still a cutie!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Betrayed By Innocence (1986)


Network: CBS
Original Air Date: March 1st, 1986

A fairly by the book drama is livened up by good performances, most notably from Barry Bostwick. I mean, is he ever bad? Here he plays Nick, a down and out filmmaker. Well, not so down and out, he seems moderately successful, but unlucky with love and his marriage to the lovely but distant Sharon (Lee Purcell). His daughter moves out, his wife goes on a business trip and Nick meets Marisa (Cristen Kaufman) at a party. She looks youthful, but she certainly can’t be jailbait. Yeah, right. And this underage honey is T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Her father is an angry cop (Paul Sorvino) and he gets bent on revenge when he learns of his daughter’s seduction, er, rape. Of course, Sharon gets pulled into the fray and before you know it, Nick is on his way to becoming the neighborhood sexual offender. Oh, I mean divorced neighborhood sexual offender! Now that sucks!

She wanted it... she wanted it bad!

Nothing more than a salacious drama, Betrayed by Innocence doesn’t have an ounce of romance in it, which is why I’ll keep calling it a drama. It’s got lots of drama! The leads are definitely attractive and the seduction scene is well done, but there’s nothing sweet about either of these two. Nick is a little too self-centered and Marisa… well, she’s just too young. I have a very hard time believing Nick had no idea she was underage. I mean, c’mon Nick! She’s way too wide-eyed. But as immature as she may appear, Kaufman was great up against Sorvino. She’s every bit the little brat you’d expect from a girl rebelling against a police officer father. Cristen's last appearance was in 1999 and it's a shame because there's just enough Virginia Madsen in her to make her someone to watch for.

The best scene in the movie features Bostwick asking Kaufman for a dance. I guess there wasn’t much money for an actual score because it sounds sort of like someone hit the samba button on their Casio! Bostwick says “This is my favorite song.” Hmmm… In the next scene (the seduction), Roxy Music is playing. So they could afford Roxy Music but nothing else?!? Couldn’t they just use the song twice?

Of note, Isaac Hayes appears briefly as does Thom Christopher who some of you will recognize as Hawk from Buck Rogers (or Carlo Hesser on One Life to Live. I know him from both cuz I’m just that nerdy!). 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Moving Target (1988)

I'm sorry, how have I gone all these years and not known this movie existed?

Here is the IMDB link. Acccording to their synopsis:

Toby Kellogg is an aspiring musician, who's sent off to music school over the summer. Not wishing to stay away from his band and potential girlfriend, he slips away late one night, where soon after police storm his sleeping dorm in looking for him. He returns home, expecting further grief from his folks and disappointment from his kid brother David, only to find his family is nowhere to be found, in fact house is completely devoid of all it's abandoned. He isn't aware that his father stumbled across a mafia conspiracy and has been spirited away along with his wife and son, by witness protection program. But none of that matters know since an ace assassin has just gunned down his closest friend in mistaken identity and is now back to correct his goof.

OK, that's just a long-winded way of saying White. Hot.

It's got this guy:

I own this EP. Yeah, you know it!

It's on DVD! If I hadn't just purchased Melrose Place Season 3 this week, then I'd be all over this. So for another day, I think... 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lots of stuff TV Movie and Otherwise

So, poor little Amanda By Night is home sick today and instead of getting her 40 winks she's been surfing the net for fun stuff. And I found it!

I'd like to link you to some sites:

You will find some fun TV Movie reviews at Anchorwoman in Peril

You can relive your worst nightmares at Kindertrauma. This site is a friggin' hoot!

You can watch some truly weird oddities at Carrie White Burns in Hell.

I came across this site via Kindertrauma and saw they have a review of the TV Movie The Death of Ocean View Park. Go check out Johnny Larue's Crane Shot.

I also have two new articles up. One is kind of TV Movie related, the other is not...

Over at Retro Slasher's new blog you can read some of my work. Today I have an article about The Best Horror Movie Decapitations. Stop by and leave a comment. Lots of people are already listing movies I missed, and I'm thinking about another list to make it all complete!

I also have a Top Ten list of the best Shark Attack Movies over at Pretty Scary.

I've also been re-purposing some of my older stuff on my other blog, Retro Ectero. You will find a review of Impulse and my interview with the band Sparks.

Because I've been sick I haven't been able to keep my TV Movie groove-on, but I got things cooking for the MILLIONS of you who drop by!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the links!

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Affair (1983)

Network: CBS
Original Air Date: October 25th, 1983

Is it just me, or does the title First Affair lead you to believe that there will be more affairs in store? Tsk, tsk...

I saw this movie when it first aired all the way back in 1983 and I remember watching it because even then at the tender age of 12, I had a crush on Joel Higgins. I think it started when he was on Best of the West, but I’ll save that for another blog!

I recall thinking First Affair was a pretty good movie, but minus a confrontation scene between Loretta Switt and Melissa Sue Anderson (which turned out to not be all that confrontational), I couldn't remember a thing about it. Well, besides Joel Higgins being all cute with his grey sideburns...Oh, there I go again! Anyway, I am happy to report that this movie has held up well and takes a distasteful (albeit, salacious) topic and turns into an engaging film which doesn't portray its characters as good or bad. And I also found it very romantic.

Melissa Sue Anderson is Toby King, an innocent Harvard Freshman. She's on a scholarship which means she's not financially set and can't make ends meet. She gets a job from her literary teacher, Professor Jane Simon (Loretta Switt) as a part time sitter. Here she meets the Professor's handsome husband, Greg (Joel Higgins). He's an uber-successful architect that is not very happy with his marriage, even though to everyone on the outside, it seems strong. Through a series of encounters, Anderson and Higgins build a friendship that becomes oh-so-much more. Strangely, neither were all that bent out of shape nor did they really seem to care what might happen if Jane were to find out... And oh yeah, does she find out! Trust me, then they care!

Although I can't say I condone the actions of either of the people in this tawdry coupling, I will admit First Affair is a sweet and romantic movie. I'm surprised that Joel Higgins didn't become a much bigger leading man. He's handsome and, even more importantly, quite likeable. Melissa Sue Anderson is at her most beautiful and her icy blue eyes are magnetizing. She plays an innocent character that isn't stupid, just caught up in being an adult for the first time in her life. Loretta Switt is also very good in her role and looks lovely. She maintains strength even when delving into her weaknesses (like when she says “I can’t compete with an 18 year old.” I hear you, honey!)

There's no question that what is going on is wrong. No simple, pat answers are given to either the couple or Loretta. And although they just brush past the deeper issues (especially after they are caught), the movie doesn't make enemies out of them and keeps them complex, just like their situation.

Kim Delany and Amanda Bearse also put in fun, early performances, if their characters seem kind of forgettable. Plus, I have always enjoyed movies that take place in ivy league schools. Granted, I usually enjoy them better if someone is being stabbed, but romance is good too! First Affair is available on vhs and is a great watch on a quiet weekend afternoon.