Sunday, April 26, 2009

Made for TV Mayhem: The ABC Afterschool Special Edition

Two Loves for Jenny
Original Air Date: October 27th, 1982

Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?
Original Air Date: December 7th, 1983

The ABC Afterschool Special was a staple of my childhood. I remember many of them (with the “V.D” episode instilling the necessary amount of fear it most likely intended!), but there were so many episodes, a lot of what I remember is a medley of images from several installments. Luckily, a few of these episodes were released on DVD for mass consumption from a nostalgically inclined audience. I.E. ME! So Yays all around!

Two Loves of Jenny (aka Between Two Loves) features the gawky, but pretty and extremely likable Karlene Crockett (Dallas, Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker) as Jenny, a new student in a new school in a new town. Jenny’s father has just died and her mom moves them from the farm to a bigger city so Jenny can play in an elite high school orchestra, run by stodgy Mr. Forbes (Robert Reed!). Turns out, Jenny is one mean violinist and is able to join immediately. She takes the last chair while uber gorgeous Doug (Lance Guest who was simply heaven sent in The Last Starfighter!) takes chair #1. They strike up a friendship that eventually leads to a blossoming romance. But Jenny’s abilities as a musician quickly move her up in the orchestra and eventually pit her against Doug for a much coveted scholarship. Doug really needs the funding for school and Jenny is only now just realizing how badly she wants to play the violin professionally. The relationship is tested when Jenny has to decide if music means more than Doug.

Karlene rules!

Honestly, I was expecting this episode to be a bit of a bore. I like classical music, but am not enthralled with watching a movie about it. But Two Loves for Jenny is engaging, sweet and never boring. It reminded me why I loved Afterschool Specials so much – it introduced young adults to interesting topics they might not have access to (i.e. classical music) while captivating it’s audience with universal themes (i.e. first loves). The balance here is fantastic and I was sad to see this special end.

So. Hot.

For some time I have been in love with Karlene, but she’s a bit of a chameleon and I often just didn’t know I was watching the same actress in various shows. Her filmmography isn’t huge, and ended in 2005 but she is a very impressive and lovely actress. Come back Karlene!

Now on the other hand, I have been quite aware of Lance Guest. I have loved him since I was 13 years old and his lanky build, curly locks and sweet presence made him the perfect first love for Jenny. And he was in Jaws 4 and Halloween 2, which is all kinds of awesome!

The second episode on the DVD is the infamous Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? (aka Andrea’s Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy) It’s infamous because it’s one of the episodes, besides the V.D. one, that I remember explicitly. Andrea is played by pretty Michele Greene (who has become a regular in the world of Lifetime movies) who along with her boyfriend David (Moosie Drier – oh my god, I love him!) make the big mistake of hitchhiking. Well, it’s more like Andrea makes the even bigger mistake to continue on the ride after they drop off David. She is taken to a desolate area and raped. Andrea tries to hide this horrible secret, but it soon comes pouring out as her friend tries to hitch a ride. The police are called, her parents are informed about the crime and her boyfriend is called in as a witness. But this film is mostly about learning not to blame yourself and to know you can find strength in facing your assailant.

Love the Mossie Drier headshot in the corner! Moosie!!!

Now see, the above sentence makes this episode sound really great, but unfortunately Andrea is a bit dry and a little forced. Granted, they had less than an hour to get a lot of layered themes across to the viewer, but a lot of the intensity gets lost in the shuffle. And the shopping montage… well, it’s silly.

From rape victim to fashion victim!

Greene is good and her parents are played by Carrie Snodgress and Matt Clark. Both are fantastic as they take on opposite sides of what they think is right for Andrea. A very young pre-holy roller Kirk Cameron plays the precocious little brother who serves absolutely no purpose (kind of like now) and the late Robert DoQui is pretty great as the cop handling the case. I won’t even go into Moosie Drier, let’s just say he’s adorable. Not a bad way to spend an hour, but after Two Loves for Jenny, well… maybe if Lance Guest had showed up in this one too… just maybe…

An Afterschool lineup!

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