Original Air Date: June 27th, 1977
Terraces could easily be a pre-cursor to Melrose Place. Although, it seriously needed a Jake. All nighttime soaps need a Jake! However, what Terraces does have is super sudsy goodness in the guise of suicide, homosexuality, extra marital affairs and Tim Thomerson! I mean, it throws just about everything into the pot! Even doggie death! Wow!
Julie Bordon (Kit McDonough) finally leaves her mother’s house and moves into this lush high rise building in the heart of Los Angeles. Her old college roommate Beth Loomis (Eliza Roberts) lives there with her husband, Gregg (Bill Gerber), whom Julie dated briefly. While Julie is very down to earth and funny, she’s also a bit of loser and she seems so far removed from her old buddy Beth who is now a journalist covering the Hollywood entertainment beat. Bill also feels a distance with his wife, who is more aloof and snobby now that she hangs out with Paul Newman (and rightly so!). Next door to Julie is Alex (James Phipps), an openly gay actor who is having an affair with an older doctor named Roger (Lloyd Bochner). Roger is married by the way, but Alex makes him feel whole and they continue to pursue the relationship. There is a fairly frank and progressive scene featuring Roger explaining how he came to fall in love with Alex. Awwwws ensued.
You’ll also meet Mr. & Mrs. Robbins (Arny Freeman and Jane Dulo), a retired couple who make snarky cracks and own a little dog that the husband can’t get enough of. He also can’t get enough of visiting the old clothing store he used to own, which now caters to a gay clientele.
And then there’s Chalane Turner (Julie Newmar!) who is living in the building while her boyfriend is out of town. She does the splits, offers fashion advice and basically livens up the film.
Julie is dating Steve (Tim Thomerson) but he’s kind of a prick and only comes around when he wants some nookie and never stays the night. However, Gregg sees something in her and eventually they hit the sheets, only to be caught almost immediately afterwards by Gregg’s wife! Julie yells, “This isn’t what it looks like!” but I mean, Gregg comes out of the bedroom in nothing but his finely fitted slacks and and Julie is in a robe. I really think in this case, it is exactly what it looks like!
There are all kinds of things going on in this building, and it’s done in this really light manner, as if suicide is almost funny. Not quite, but almost. The movie was directed and co-written by Lila Garret who is Eliza Roberts mom (Eliza is now Mrs. Eric Roberts! Cool!) and I thought for sure Lila would have had her hand in daytime soaps but she mostly worked in comedies, such as All in the Family and Bewitched, which may explain why the film teeters on the comical. Just the casting of Kit McDonough alone insured some giggles - even when she’s serious she’s funny, and that applies here as well.
As misguided and discombobulated as Terraces was, I still loved it. It’s brisk and fun, with just enough controversy to make it all feel a tad naughty. Julie Newmar needed a bigger part, but overall, this film dove about one inch into what should have been deep water and keeps afloat by refusing to linger on any one topic long enough to make the audience realize how hokey the material really is. Also, I just love that Lloyd Bochner!
Terraces is currently streaming on Hulu, and it’s such an odd and wonderful choice. I had not heard of this movie until I began poking around Hulu, so it was a pretty exciting find!