Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model? (1977)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: January 16th, 1977

The great, indomitable Barbara Eden is Liz Stonestreet, topnotch private detective who is willing to go deep undercover to solve any crime. Luckily for the viewers, deep undercover involves lots of hot pants!

The disappearance of a beautiful socialite named Amory Osborn (played by the gorgeous Ann Dusenberry) is somehow tied to a missing hood named Eddie (James Ingersoll). Liz decides to go undercover as a tramp. Actually, it’s pretty vague what she’s supposed to be but she does dress slutty and works on the display art at a porno theater!!! You gotta love this stuff! Anyway, Stonestreet discovers some rather fine jewelry which Eddie, who is in hiding, desperately wants back. The expensive jewels tie him Amory, a woman who lived the high life and also dabbled in porn under the name Angel Collins. And this little side job also leads to the notorious racketeers Jessica Hilliard (Joan Hackett) & Elliot Osborn (Richard Basehart), Amory’s dad. Wow, what a tangled web we weave!

Liz is an apparent master of disguise because aside from pretending to be a whore, she also can go under as a cleaning lady – wow, she’s good!

This is a convoluted by fun mystery with the awesome Eden taking on yet another strong female character. Most of the time, and much to the constant frustration of her boss, Stonestreet insists on not having any backup. It often gets her in big messes though, and at one point she’s even framed for murder! She should really listen to her superior sometimes. Although her feminine instinct does help her differentiate between expensive and cheap jewelry, which must come in handy all the time – or at least here in this pilot for a series that never got picked up. If this had of become a series imagine all of the expensive/cheap things she could have ferreted out!

Joan Joan Dancer, Your Life is Calling!

Eden is helped out by the awesome cast, which includes a young Sally Kirkland as one of the employees of the porno theater and LaWanda Page (who doesn't play an employee of the porno theater)! Of course Joan Hackett is amazing and a lot of fun to watch, making an appropriate foe for Eden.

So if you like TV movie sleaze, hot pants, socialites turned porno stars, Eden in barely-there clothes and a bit of mystery, then Stonestreet is waiting for you!

Must. See. Must. See.

RIP Farrah, The Most Courageous Angel

June 25th, 2009 may very well turn out to be one of the most surreal and sad days in pop culture history. Along with the shocking death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, we also lost not only a beautiful and talented actress, but also an icon and one of the most courageous women I have ever seen. The world watched Farrah as cancer took her life, but it could not take her amazing spirit.

I wrote a tribute to Farrah at Pretty Scary. Please stop by and take a look back at the life of this amazing woman.

Can You Help a TV Movie Lover Find her Faves?

Vince Edwards = Hawt

I dare you to contradict that statement!

And I'm not the only one who feels that way. Someone has recently asked me if I could find the pilot to Matt Lincoln starring Mr. Edwards. The title of this pilot is Dial Hot Line (but should be called Dial Hawt Line, if you know what I mean!). Also, they would like to find another small screen Edwards flick titled The Courage and the Passion, which I would like to find myself. I see it was directed by my TV movie hero John Llewellyn Moxey!

If anyone has access to either of these, please contact me. I can't give you anything in return except the eternal gratefulness of a lifelong fan. How cool would that be?

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Review at Retro Slashers!

And it's for a TV Movie! YAY!

I got a chance to see Terror at the London Bridge this past weekend in the theater! Someone got their hands on a beautiful 35mm print from Europe and let's just say it was TV movie heaven!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Supertrain: Express to Terror (1979)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: February 7th, 1979

I sat down and watched the pilot to this infamous flop of a series (reported to be one of the biggest financial disasters for NBC) a couple of weeks ago. What struck me most about the whole thing was how unmemorable any of it was. And now I’m struggling to recall what I saw in the first place.

Concept-wise, Supertrain is gold: A futuristic train, roughly the size of a small city, or rather a boat… a Love Boat presumably… takes off to parts unknown as the kooky crew and passengers find themselves in various hijinky situations. Seriously, how can this premise executed by the normally deft hands of Dan Curtis turn out to be such a misfire? I still can’t figure out why it didn’t work. It’s another one of those things where the elements are all there, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t gel. Like those tee shirts in the 80s that were supposed to change color based on your body temp, i.e. a mood ring made of cotton. Sure it sounds cool, but basically it’s just changing colors because you’re sweating. Yuck.

I would very much like to dance, dig?

The great Keenan Wynn is Winfield Root, this kind of mad-genius-half-senile-super-millionaire who devises a way to get the train systems back on, uh, track. He builds a large “super train” that is two stories and seems to run the length of forever. The best part of his brilliant invention is that for it to work, all of the America would have to redo their train tracks. But never you mind, the train business is ready to boom again and somehow get this puppy going. On the inside, you would never guess you were in a train and unlike the semi-realness of the Love Boat set, not once do you truly believe this set is in motion.

The crew themselves are so forgettable that I’m wracking my brain right now trying to remember who was who. I can’t even bring to mind any images of the wonderful Robert Alda who played Dr. Dan Lewis. I feel all bad about it too.

Where Supertrain gets really, uh, derailed is with its “all star” cast, who, again, must have looked great on paper, but the majority of them are given such little screen time you have to wonder why anyone bothered. Yes, you’ll see Fred Williamson, George Hamilton, Vicki Lawrence & Stella Stevens and the cumulative amount of time they spend on screen is less than 10 minutes. I mean, why bother?

The main story revolves around the always fun Steve Lawrence who thinks someone is out to kill him. He might be right too. Seems creepy hit man Don Stroud (oh Don, how I love you!) might be out for a little bloodshed (or he might not be…), and his adorable girlfriend Char Fontaine (who owns the greatest disco wardrobe in history) seems more interested in Lawrence than hot old Mr. Stroud. Well, go girl! Don Meredith is Lawrence’s buddy and well, that’s about it.

A woman and her hat terrified!

There is a Gopher inspired subplot with Patrick Collins trying to get laid while the rest of the crew seems to determined to make sure he doesn’t. It’s cute, but not all that funny.

I guess when you call your pilot Express to Terror and then waffle it between a legit mystery and semi-comedy (and aren't very adept at either), you’re kind of risking losing your audience. And while I’m all forgiving and stuff, its obvious most of the attention was paid on the sets and less on the writing.

The Supertrain series bombed but managed to run for about 10 episodes and featured some great actors like Rebecca Balding, Victor Buono, Elaine Joyce and Dennis Dugan (my god, I love that guy!), but ultimately, people weren’t that curious about the monstrous train that could and tuned out.

Express to Terror did see a limited vhs release but the majority of Supertrain has faded into obscurity, and like the train itself, in a big way. However, if you are so inclined (and you certainly should be), this incredible Supertrain website run by a man named Tony Cook should satiate your hunger for this ill-fated series. I wanted to love it. Truly I did, and I’m glad I saw the pilot, but for someone who loves retro television as much as myself, to feel all blah about it makes me feel all blah about it. Ya dig?

Heading off into the sunset... forever