Sunday, January 30, 2011

Way Black When Airing for Black History Month

I cannot tell you how excited I am about Way Black When, a month long tribute to African American pop culture from the 70s, 80s and 90s, in commemoration of Black History Month! TV One is airing Way Black When every weekday during the month of February. Check out their schedule. They are featuring tons of awesome musical guests and interviews with some of our favorite faces of those eras, such as Antonio Fargas and Jayne Kennedy! The hosts are Sinbad, Niecy Nash and Christopher Reid. This special starts airing on Monday, January 31st at 10pm! Be there!

To honor Black History Month here on my blog, I'll be doing a couple of features throughout the month.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More Cool TV Stuff!

I can't let the day go by without wishing Tom Selleck a very happy birthday. My favorite private detective turned 66 today. I wrote this birthday post last year, which features some still shots from his first TV movie! So if you want to get your Magnum-on, I suggest you clicka da link!

Also, I am pleased beyond words to let you know that Exhumed Films will be holding a screening of Gargoyles on March 25th! The theater is located in Philadelphia, so if you think you'll be around, visit their site for the deets. What a great film to show on the big screen. Although I think it's aged a bit, the overall effects are wonderful and I just love that Bernie Casey - he's my favorite sexy scaly monster! You can click on this link to read my review of Gargoyles. (btw, a big thinks to Michael at Cinema Du Meep for the heads up on this!)

Also, you should pick up issue number 5 of Stiff Magazine to check out their retrospective on Don't Be Afraid of the Dark! Although I don't have a copy (yet), I am familiar with the writer, William J. Wright and he's wonderful. It's definitely a must read if you love TV movies!

And finally, I saw that Terror at London Bridge is streaming on Hulu! It's got David Hasselhoff, Adrienne Barbeau and Clu Gulager. You can click on the link to read my review over at Retro Slashers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bay Coven (1987)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: October 25th, 1987

Pamela Sue Martin gets the best guys.

It all started when she landed the role of Nancy Drew in the 70s. She became Parker Stevenson’s frustrating love interest and I think I hated her a little for it. How does one compete against that? Eventually I learned to let go and knew in my heart it was for the best. Parker was not destined to be mine. Then, just when I thought I'd grown up a bit, I see she’s attached to Tim Matheson in Bay Coven! Seriously, when will this madness end?!?

He's mine, Pamela. Do you hear me? Mine!

Pamela is tre chic in this movie too. She plays Linda, an ambitious executive type who lives in an ultra-fab apartment with her husband Jerry (Tim Matheson). They have very Green Acres like dreams – He wants fresh air, she wants Times Square (via Canada it looks like). At this super cool and smoky jazz club they meet Josh and Debbie (Jeff Conaway and Susan Ruttan) who tell them about Bay Cove, which is close enough to commute to the city, but country enough to make you wish you owned more overalls. Apparently there is this house for sale super cheap, so Linda and Jerry take a trip out to the little island. Things get a little creepy instantly with the strange lady who owns the place and will still be living on the property after they buy it. But hey, it’s Barbara Billingsley, so it must be OK, right? But as with any old-creepy-house-on-a-small-island movie, the couple move in and then start to discover the evil lurking underneath the idyllic locale.

You would have to be really gullible to not figure out what is going on. There are no twists, well, except for one startling and well filmed death scene, but it is still a pretty good little movie. Why? Because Pamela Sue Martin is awesome. Sure, it’s hard for me to admit that, after the whole Parker incident, but it’s true. I like that lady. She plays an interesting character here, falling smack dab between obnoxious but smart Nancy Drew and sleazy but sexy Fallon from Dynasty. She’s pretty rounded out here, maybe a little more akin to an adult version of her Nancy Drew counterpart.

Creepy Kids + Big Knives = Total Awesomeness!

The cast of familiar faces, including Matheson, Billingsley, a young Woody Harrelson, James Sikking and Inga Swenson (!), will probably make any child of the 80s a little happy. As I said there’s not so much in the way of shocks, but there is this comfortable feeling aided by the wonderful cast of television friendly faces. That, along with some nice, steady pacing from director Carl Shenkel (The Hitchhiker, Silence Like Glass) makes Bay Coven a pleasant surprise. I had been sitting on this movie for years now. I remember my husband giving me a copy and after all the ooohing and awwwing it somehow got left unwatched. Maybe because it’s so readily available. Bay Coven has enjoyed a release on vhs (under the title Eye of the Demon) and then on DVD as Bay Cove, and it’s also been streaming on Netflix and hell, it’s even on Hulu as well. I guess it became less desirable because I could see it anywhere. I like my hidden gems, although lately that Neflix has been making my mouth water. I’m really glad I was desperate to find something to watch while I worked out the other day, because I might have gone a few more years and missed this fun late-entry TV horror film. But now what will I workout to?

Terrified and fabulous!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TV Randomness!

It's like the people at Hot in Cleveland live inside my head or something... On the season premiere last night Wendy Malick made a sly reference to the TV movie The Stone Pillow starring Lucille Ball! Her character talks about playing a homeless women in the movie The Concerte Pillow! Very cool, Wendy (and writers). Very cool!

By the way, did you know The Stone Pillow is streaming on Netflix?

In other TV-Movies-Are-Awesome News:

I stumbled across this interview with Bradford Dillman at Cinema Retro! My wonderful Bradford was an incredible staple on the small screen flick scene and starred in some great films such as Five Desperate Women and Revenge! In this interview he has a little love/hate relationship going on, and it's an interesting read.

There is also this nice interview with Linda Day George at Komo News. It's pretty much a Where Are They Now piece and it looks like Linda has had a good life since she retired from acting in the 80s.

As school looms over me (I start next Monday), I picked up a book called The Movie of the Week: Private Stories, Public Events by Elayne Rapping. It's a little textbook-y but overall I'm enjoying it. Of course I just started. I think it will take me all semester to slowly read it, but I'm excited to see such a serious look at my favorite genre!

And finally, it looks like Columbia Pictures has followed in the path of Warner Archive and are releasing some titles from their vaults! So far, there's not a ton of TV movies available, but you will find stuff like the 1986 version of The Canterville Ghost, four Hart to Hart films (yay!) and something called Terror Among Us which is a chiller from 1981 that looks pretty incredible.

I'm telling ya, TV movies are all the rage these days!

Monday, January 17, 2011

TV Movie Watchin' - Netflix Style!

Oh man, thank heavens for Netflix! I had one of those rare open weekends where popcorn-eating-soda-drinking awesomeness commenced. Although I added about 100 movies to my queue, I was only able to get three down... but it was a good three... mostly.

A Matter of Sex (1984): This was the first, and best of the bunch. A Matter of Sex is based on the true story of the Willmar 8, who were a group of a women working in a bank in a small Minnesota town that got fed up with sex discrimination. Jean Stapleton leads the small and passionate brigade, and the film works as a really interesting time capsule reminding us that while women still have some way to go in the world of equal rights, we have also come really far. Some of the stuff the boss says is just outrageous. While this didn't make me want to grab my sisters' hands and sing We Shall Overcome, it still really made me proud of what some people have done to equal the playing field.

Dinah Manoff is a standout here in her dramatic turn as a country mouse turned labor union organizer. Jean Stapleton is of course fantastic too, and overall the eight women are wonderful in their parts.

Although the film takes place in Minnesota, some of the Canadian accents and faces will get you. I noticed Jeannie Elias from The Pit and Peter Spence from Crazy Moon! Lee Grant, who I worship as an actress, made a documentary on these women called The Willmar 8 and then she adapted her doc into this movie which she also directed. I'm telling you, women are doing it for themselves!

Forbidden Love (1982): This one was up next and yet again we've got another May/December romance where the older, sophisticated women falls in love with a much younger man. Yvette Mimieux is Joanna. She's outrageously fashionable, has the body of a teenager and a crazy sexy way about her. Andrew Stevens is Casey, a handsome medical intern who comes from very little and works hard for his money. The sparks are instant (they meet at a ski resort which is so friggin' 80s I could die! ) but once they get the van-a-rockin' they soon find out not everyone is copacetic on this whole unholy union.

While I liked this movie, it has all of my favorite elements - an oversized and ridiculously glamorous house, fantastic clothes, beautiful men - I didn't like the story (or the chemistry) as much as I enjoyed Anatomy of a Seduction, although one could argue they are basically the same film (For the record, Anatomy is also streaming on Netflix). I'm not exactly sure what was missing in the formula, but it was still a fun watch. Jerry Houser, who played Wally on The Brady Brides, is one of Casey's BFFs and I just love seeing that man in anything!

Condor (1986): In the somewhat near future (or maybe even our past, I think this movie takes place around 2000), there are lots of things that are futuristic but look like 1980s LA. Throw in a robotic fast food employee and a lady in silver spandex and you've got... well it still looks like 80s LA. Ray Wise is Christopher Proctor, an employee at a covert crime fighting company called Condor. His partner is killed and he's saddled with a lovely female robot named Lisa Hampton (Wendy Kilbourne). They are hot on the heels of an escaped prisoner named Rachel Hawkings played by Carolyn Seymour (get it... Hawkings vs. Condor?!? HA!). Apparently she did some really bad things and is now back at it, and she works as the madwoman behind a large glowing light computer. Oh man, the futuristic 80s was so good!

I really wanted to like Condor and it's not like it's bad or good, it's just kind of there. I had a hard time following the story and I kept getting put off by the female robot doing stuff like sleeping. I know she's supposed to be all human and everything but those little tidbits distracted me. I did like Proctor's cat though... Adorable! Also, it was nice to see Craig Stevens from Peter Gunn but he looked like he'd rather be elsewhere. Wise is good in the part, but this is really not his film...

I kept wondering where I recognized Wendy from. She was in North and South and married her co-star James Read. She has quit acting and the two are still married. Awwww! I love happy endings!

And I have to say, that's really how my weekend ended... happily.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Rule of Four

With the premiere of the second season of Hot in Cleveland looming (January 19th), I’ve been thinking a little about cool as ice female quartets. In 1985, when the Golden Girls hit the scene, audiences were treated to older females who could give any youngster a run for their money. The formula stuck and since then, several shows have tried their hand (and quite successfully) at the brassy and sassy mature female blueprint and I thought I’d take a look back at my favorite foxes.

The Golden Girls (1985 – 1992): Nothing will ever come close to the timeless hilarity of The Golden Girls. We have four women ranging in personality, Rose (Betty White) was the lightheaded but sweet one, Dorothy (Bea Arthur) was the smart as a whip one, Blanche (Rue McClanahan) was the oversexed one and Sophia (Estelle Getty) was the old one. The women were either widowed or divorced and were learning to make their way through the singles scene of the 1980s. Not only was the show absolutely brilliant, but it gave lots and lots of mature actors good work. The guest stars included everyone from Anne Francis to Leslie Nielsen (sadly, both actors have passed away recently). Even super famous people like Burt Reynolds and Bob Hope stopped by the hottest address in Florida. The Golden Girls worked not only because it was well written and superbly acted, but it also reached an audience that wasn’t being spoken to (and is even less spoken to now). The show was all about being older and vital. It wanted you to know you could be sexy and fun at any age. It said women didn’t have to be their own worst enemies and it also said cheesecake soothes the soul.

Bea Arthur left after seven seasons and the show was retooled as Golden Palace. There were some misfires here, but overall, making Cheech Marin the new Dorothy wasn’t such a bad idea. The show only lasted one season but was pretty fun. Sure it wasn’t the original, but the ideas and themes still ran through it.

One of the things I adore about this show, but didn’t really understand it until later, was that these women looked like real women. I mean, Betty White has always been pretty smokin’ hot, but in general, these women looked like people any of us would know in our real lives. As I got older I began to appreciate this little detail. It makes me feel like I don’t have to constantly pluck and starve. I will probably always dye my hair, but you know, two out of three ain’t bad! The shows that followed slowly lost this little physically relatable thing, and that’s pretty sad.

Designing Women (1966 – 1993): Hot to follow the success of The Golden Girls, the premise was retooled with four younger (but still mature) women who worked together at an interior design business. The company was owned by Julia Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter), and she was brash and not always likable. She did however, have an always lovable sister named Suzanne (the sublime Delta Burke). OK, she wasn’t very likable at all, she was bratty and spoiled, but that is what made me gravitate to her. She was so well written and I loved her little beauty pageant bubble. There was also Mary Jo Shively (Annie Potts), who was an adorable single mom with impeccable taste and great fluffy hair. And then there was Charlene (Jean Smart), who was the bubbly and sometimes illogical secretary. Basically Julia was Dorothy, Suzanne was Blanche, Charlene was Rose and Mary Jo was, uh, Sophia… well, OK, so that one doesn’t fit, but you get where I’m going with this.

Designing Women was a very good show, although I don’t think it has aged nearly as well. It’s still enjoyable, but it doesn’t resonate with me the way The Golden Girls did. However, before the show fell apart when Delta left, Suzanne became a really poignant character. Delta, who had battled eating disorders, was having a hard time keeping her weight down. The writing became rather insulting but it somehow made Suzanne this complex creature. In the end, the only ones who truly suffered were the people left on the fledgling sitcom, because without Suzanne, they were nothing (Jean Smart also left the show at this point). Julia Duffy and Jan Hooks spent some time at Sugarbakers, but it was actually during the last season when Judith Ivey joined the cast, that it got back any of the magic the earlier Suzanne seasons had. Too little too late, the show was cancelled.

I often found Julia really frustrating at times. I’m all for brash southern belles, but she really took non-issues and made them even lamer than before. I think I remember an episode where Julia reads an article about how southern people eat dirt and she called the author and one of her 'Julia Monologues' or something like that. I was like, “Really, Julia? Don’t you have a business to run?” And don’t even get me started on the episode with the magazine vendor who sold a Playboy type magazine! Aargh! But otherwise, the show was a lot of fun and their ages, which ranged from early 30s to middle aged 40s felt like an afterthought. They were dignified and independent and they shared a real camaraderie. Also, I would kill for a lot of the stuff Annie Potts wore. Incredible!

I should probably also add that re-tooling the show meant adding a male character played by Meshach Taylor. Granted, The Golden Girls did have a gay cook in the premiere episode, so perhaps it wasn’t all that re-tooled at all…

Sex and the City (1998 – 2004): I’ll be honest, I didn’t really watch this show. I’ve maybe seen it twice and thought it was amusing but not my cup o’ tea. I would say essentially they are all Blanche, because this show seemed to be about sex more than anything else. Again, we’ve got four independent friends who are searching for love in the city that never sleeps. What I remember most is that again, although I’m beginning to see a homogenization of not only the physical female form but also the overtly sexual attitude of women (in television especially), this show did still handle the “older” women with some sort of dignity and thought. Kim Cattrall stood out to me because she was just so gorgeous and still doing nudity into her forties. Older women doing nudity was something that always came across as a rarity, but she seemed to be nekkid an awful lot, and I loved the idea of it. Not only did it reinvigorate her career but in essence it remained true to the Golden Girls’ formula that aging didn’t have to mean losing the sexual part of yourself. Maybe it could even flourish. That’s a great message.

Hot in Cleveland (2010 - ): Wow, did things just come full circle or what? Betty White returned to the female foursome sitcom last year and let me tell you, Hot in Cleveland is dynamite! And I mean Jimmy Walker Dyyyy-nnnnnooooo-mite! Valerie Bertinelli is Melanie, a recently divorced author who is planning a trip to France with her friends Victoria Chase (Wendie Malick), a self-absorbed soap actress and Joy (Jane Leeves), an in demand beautician. But their plane needs to make an emergency landing in Cleveland. The first thing they notice is that men look at them. I mean, look at them… you know, with desire. The second thing they notice is that people are eating without shame. After some serious thought (and some seriously awesome nookie with John Schneider!), Melanie decides to get a house. That house comes with Elka (Betty White), the cantankerous caretaker who rounds out the dynamic quartet.

Filmed in front of an actual audience, Hot in Cleveland is legitimately funny and often warm. The three main friends have wonderful chemistry. Elka is there to be snarky and in essence, Betty has become the Sophia of the group. I would say Melanie is Rose, Victoria is Blanche and Joy is Dorothy. This combo has proved to be a sure sale, and the actresses here are fantastic in their parts. My only quibble would be that while every cast member is over 50 (well, Jane actually turns 50 this year!), none of them look like a real 50 something would. Hell, they don’t even really look like a 40 something. It’s amazing how lovely all the actresses have remained, but I find I miss 50 year old women who look 50. Betty looks fantastic too, but of course, looks a bit older than the rest of the crew. I think making the women LA natives really helps. I lived in tinsel town for over 10 years and I can tell you, women are overly obsessed with their image there. I mean, I think women anywhere can be really vain, but in California there is a real sense of panic looming over the over 30 set. The characters are ridiculously endearing, especially Betty White, and Malick shows off a great knack for physical comedy. I personally can’t wait for January 19th to roll around the corner!

Here’s the official website for Hot in Cleveland, now go set your DV-Rs!

By the way, I thought I was being all ingenious when I wrote this article, but after a quick search I came upon this fun piece on TV Squad that has even more awesome foursomes!

Here are the Designing Women at their Lifetime reunion show in 2003. Fab!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


First off, let me give a big thanks to my favorite Meepster over at Cinema Du Meep for inviting me in on the 80s mayhem! Please pop over there as often as possible as he's kind of movie nut and always fun to read, and check out our co-blog on our favorite films of the 80s! Here, both Meep and I tackled the wonderful world of television and we certainly hope you enjoy our lists!

I was 9 years old in 1980. I might not have hit the double digits yet, but I was beginning that phase in my life where I loved watching television & movies. You may have guessed that I never quite got over that part of my life, and I tend to want to either re-visit or re-discover the gems from my all-too-short childhood. As the decade was just beginning we were laying to rest the post-hippie disillusionment but had yet to totally dip ourselves into a neon daze. It was an interesting time in television especially, with a disparate list of drama/comedies/variety specials. It might also have been the year of the romantic television movie. I mean, Valentine Magic on Love Island?!? Need I say more?

Cosmos: There are billions and billions of stars. And there was only one Carl Sagan. The thing about Mr. Sagan was that although he never talked down to his audience, he made science fun. He made it more than fun, he made it something full of vast wonder and he made you want to learn about it. His series Cosmos was 13 episodes, that’s only half a season, but the effect of it has lasted through my entire life. I never did quite get the knack for science, but I also never lost the want to learn it. Thank you Mr. Sagan.

Enos: This misfire of a show falls under the “What Were They Thinking” category. A spin-off from The Dukes of Hazzard, Enos (played by Sonny Shroyer) was the lovable deputy who moved out of the sticks of Hazzard into the big city streets of Los Angeles. A bad fish-out-of-water storyline that wore thin quickly, Enos was worth watching only for Shroyer’s great performance. Even among crap, he was undeniably charming.

Fight Back! With David Horowitz: What a flashback! When I was a nine year old renegade, I thought I could change the world. I felt that way because of shows like Fight Back which empowered us with the knowledge of what products actually told the truth in their advertisements and who was lying through their dirty, rotten teeth. Every week my friends and I couldn’t wait to see if you could actually spread cake icing with a paper knife or if the gorilla would demolish the suitcase. What a blast! And I thought I was being all consumer savvy and stuff. What can I say, I consume with the best of them! For the record, Mr Horowitz is still fighting the good fight, visit him at his website,aptly titled Fight Back! Power to the people!

I’m a Big Girl Now: Although I didn’t like this show as much as Diana Canova’s later series Throb (or SOAP for that matter), this show had one big selling point for me – Sheree North. I can’t remember when I fell in love with this brassy, voluptuous actress, but I have been enchanted by her for most of my life. She’s fantastic here as Edie, the brash boss and she looks amazing. I’m a Big Girl Now also had a then unknown Martin Short and of course, Danny Thomas, who must have been the selling point, but as far as I’m concerned, this was Diana & Sheree’s show all the way.

It’s a Living: Hey, life’s not the French Riviera, but it was downright funny on It’s a Living, which was a pretty great little show about a group of waitresses and some other employees of a swank restaurant. Mostly, this show ruled because it gave the world Ann Jillian who we all just knew was Mae West reincarnated! She was afforded some of the best lines and kind of made the show. The series, which ran on ABC for only a short period of time (two seasons), experienced quite the comeback in syndication in 1985 where it ran for four more seasons (Jillian only did a one year stint because she was battling breast cancer, which she won!). Wow, talk about legs… and I don’t mean on the waitresses!

Magnum P.I.: OK, I’m gonna glow a little. I always do when I think about this show, which is hands down my all time favorite television series of all time in the history of the world and maybe even the universe. Ever. Tom Selleck was perfectly cast as the gorgeous, but not always perfect Magnum, a slacker P.I. who often had to enlist the help of his best buds to get the mystery solved. There were several elements to the show that were seamless, including the obvious, such as the chemistry between the cast mates and the sumptuous locales. But Magnum P.I. was also extremely consistent and faithful to its characters, featuring storylines that could unravel over several seasons (OK, not completely consistent but this was the 80s!). And as the show matured, so did Magnum, who found himself in many situations that lead to the esoteric and filled him with self-awareness. I love how poignant some episodes were and I loved growing along with Magnum. Even now, almost 30 years later (oh my god, has it really been that long?!?), this show still remains one of the most moving television watching experiences I have ever had. I love Thomas, Rick, TC & Higgins like they were my friends and that’s how I greet them at the beginning of every episode. I don’t think I will ever love a television show more.

Secrets of Midland Heights: After Dallas but before Dynasty lies a little forgotten nighttime soap called The Secrets of Midland Heights. Starring future stars such as Lorenzo Lamas and Linda Hamilton as well as stalwart names like Bibi Besch and Martha Scott who played Sue Ellen's overbearing mom on Dallas in various salacious situations. The show was short lived and re-tooled as King’s Crossing for the next season, but still failed to capture many viewers. Tis a shame too, since the lesser known nighttime soaps seem to be my shows of choice…

Solid Gold: Yeah, yeah, yeah interpretive dance wasn’t exactly the big thing in my pre-pre-teen existence, but Solid Gold got me on a pretty good start! This was a fantastic show for people like me who were really into 80s pop. Everyone who was anyone showed up, lip-synching their big hits. I used to love how the music would fade and then the band would just stop playing! Solid Gold started off as a one off variety special that did well enough to spin into a series. The first episode featured Irene Cara and Chuck Berry! Wow. An incredible, but kind of horrible show, those dancers and the various hosts (starting with Dionne Warwick) were filling up my life with music!

Tenspeed & Brownshoe: Although my parents were very into books and enjoyed music, they also loved to watch a lot of network television during my youth. Some of my favorite memories come from having dinner with the parental unit as we watched whatever the show of the evening was. One of my fondest memories of those times is watching Tenspeed & Brownshoe, even though I hardly remember the short lived series at all. What I do remember is laughing hysterically with my parents – it’s a memory I’ll treasure forever. The show itself was about a hustler named E.L. “Tenspeed” Turner (Ben Vereen) turned detective to meet parole requirements (!) and an accountant named Lionel “Brownshoe” Whitney, who was more fanatical about the work at hand. Together they encountered hijinks and guffaws galore and became an important precursor to more the more lighthearted detective fare that showed up later in the decade (Ex. Riptide, Simon & Simon – granted those were beefcake hijinks!). Created by the great Stephen J. Cannell, Tenspeed & Brownshoe did quite well at the beginning of their 14 episode run, but viewers quickly lost interest and the show was cancelled.

Those Amazing Animals: Before Animal Planet there was Those Amazing Animals. It was lighthearted, it was sweet and it was totally awesome. As a big animal lover, I loved this show through and through. I adored Jim Stafford something fierce too (he totally kicked John Davidson’s butt!), but it’s Burgess Meredith I remember most. That beguiling voice leading the audience through tales of the animal kingdom was magical. This short lived series (one season) was the best of family television and deserves a decent DVD release.

Of course, TV movies and specials were big on my boob tube radar as well. Since I was only nine you may have guessed that I was home at night. A lot. Minus a few slumber parties, there I was twisting the knob, looking for decent programming. I haven't seen all of the movies and specials on this list, but damn, 1980 had some good programming!

The Babysitter: Mmmm, I love this movie. I didn’t catch its original airing but enjoyed watching it several times on my local channel during the early 80s. Stephanie Zimbalist is cold, cruel and calculating… and a ton of fun to watch! Click on title for full review.

Battle of the Network Stars: Starting in 1976, ABC brought nineteen wonderful episodes of this outlandish curiosity. Sometimes the specials would air twice a year and in 1980 we were treated to one in May and one in December. You can check out a list of participants over at Retro Junk. I loved the little bios they would give the teammates. In a particularly hilarious ass kissing interview, Howard Cosell kept raving about how awesome Ed Asner was, to the point that you could see Ed was either totally eating it up or figuring out how to get that restraining order started. Also, seeing Mr. Asner in those teeny-weeny bikinis was something to behold. Oh man, how I miss this show. They tried to revamp it in 2005 with Battle of the Network Reality Stars, but can we say lame? Yeah, totally!

Cheryl Ladd Special: Souvenirs: I love Cheryl Ladd and I truly, from the bottom of my heart, wanted to like this variety special, but it’s just so bland. Cheryl looks divine, Joyce DeWitt is adorable, Jeff Conaway is… uh, Jeff Conaway, but it just doesn’t gel.

Condominium: A wonderful disaster of the week mini-series featuring Barbara Eden along with many, many wonderful television friendly faces as they prepare for the biggest storms of their lives – one by nature, the other by lust, darling, pure lust! Click on title for a full review.

Flamingo Road: It was not until I started writing this article that I realized this short lived nighttime soap did not take place in Las Vegas. The tackiest city in the world was my childhood stomping grounds and we had a street named Flamingo Road which leads to the Flamingo Hotel (we were pretty clever as you can see). My (still) small brain could not fathom that another town might have a Flamingo Road. Turns out there is at least one (fictionalized or otherwise) in Florida and I’m guessing the road on the show is meant to symbolize the haves and have-nots and it features the hunkadelic John Beck and Mark Harmon! In short: This is a must see!

The Jayne Mansfield Story: Why, oh why have I not seen this movie? Loni Anderson as Jayne and Ah-nold Schwarzenegger as Mickey Hargity. Wow. Just wow.

Mom, the Wolfman and Me: I just got a chance to rewatch this sweet little made for tv romance. David Birney is officially hawt. Click on title for review.

Murder Can Hurt You
: Oh man, this movie is hee-larious. A bunch of funny famous people parody the hot cop shows – Victor Buono is Chief Ironbottom, Tony Danza is Pony Lambretta, Connie Stevens is Sgt. Salty Sanderson and so on… Someone is killing all the great cops and so they must band together to find the culprit! This is slapstick silliness at its finest and I remember loving it even as an adult when FXM used to air it endlessly in the mid-90s.

Pleasure Palace: This movie was recently streaming on Netflix and I’m so mad they took it off. It’s ultra-lush goodness, featuring the handsome Omar Sharif as one slick gambler. He’s also got a romantic triangle to tangle with – will he choose the beautiful and dignified Hope Lange or will he pick the gorgeous and confident Victoria Principal? If you can find this movie, you need to watch and find out! Click on title for a look at this movie.

Revenge of the Stepford Wives: Of course little could come close to the classic horror film The Stepford Wives, and Revenge does well by not trying to. Instead, this is a fun, uncomplicated follow up to the big screen original. Sharon Gless is great, but the real treat is watching Julie Kavner, pre-Marge Simpson as Don Johnson’s wife! It’s total a total shut your brain off and have fun kind of flick!

My good friend Meep at Cinema du Meep also has a mad penchant for the small screen. Here are some of his faves:

3-2-1 Contact: Remember when kid's shows were fun and informative? 3-2-1 was always fun to watch and bring out the inner nerd within.

Bosom Buddies: What's not to love about 2 guys pretending to be like women just so they could live on the cheap and have pajama parties with the women of their dreams? Plus, Tom Hanks when he was funny!
(Amanda By Night note: Check out this awesome article about some of the exterior locations from Bosom Buddies' opening title sequence)

Breaking Away: I was a fan of the show from the great movie, but it only lasts 7 episodes :(

Fridays: Friday's gave Saturday Night Live a good run for it's money. Shame it never really caught on as it was a whole lot of funny. Plus, early Larry David!

Heathcliff: I didn't watch a whole lot of cartoons growing up, but for some reason I became obsessed with Heathcliff. More so the '84 version than '80, but I did watch. I remember my friends and I naming ourselves after some of the characters. I was Riff Raff.

It's A Living: The zany trials of a small group of women serving the most unappetizing looking food at a posh Hotel in Los Angeles. A great ensemble cast keeps you hooked.

Solid Gold: Forget American Bandstand and Dance Fever. Solid Gold was the shit.

That's Incredible!: Reality shows in the 80's were a totally different beast. This one was part cheesy, part creepy and absolutely addictive! Cathy Lee Crosby was a fox.

Too Close For Comfort: Once I caught this show I was hooked. I said it before, and I'll say it again... Ted Knight was god!

These were still on in '80, and I was hooked until they eventually were retired...

The Love Boat
Three's Company - Never missed an episode!
Diff'rent Strokes
Mork & Mindy
Hart To Hart
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century
- Beep-de-de-beep!
The Facts Of Life
WKRP In Cincinnati
Little House On The Prairie
One Day At A Time - Oh, Schneider!
The Jeffersons
Laverne & Shirley

I wasn't watching as many TV-Movies back in 1980, but these I do remember clearly...

The Babysitter: Gosh you're creepy Stephanie Zimbalist!

The Boy Who Drank Too Much: Put down that beer Baio!

The Comeback Kid: Starring my man John Ritter!

Guyana Tragedy: The Story Of Jim Jones: All hail to the power of Powers Boothe!
(Amanda By Night note: A friend of mine is in Guyana. He plays the aggravated ticket taker at the movie theater!)

The Jayne Mansfield Story: Starring Loni Anderson's boobs

Marilyn The Untold Story: More boobs, but this time starring the miscast perky Catherine Hicks

Monday, January 10, 2011

Must See Streaming Movie of the Week: Someone I Touched (1975)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: February 25th, 1975

Eons ago I wanted to do a VD Week with this movie, Intimate Agony (1983) and an Afterschool Special titled A Very Delicate Matter (1982). While I sought out both Touched and Matter, I got itchy (no pun intended!) and decide to write up Agony in the meantime. I thought for sure I’d never find this controversial TV movie starring Cloris Leachman as a victim of the swingin’ 70s who isn’t all that innocent when it comes to the game of leg spread. Lo and behold, Netflix Streaming has picked up this awesome little gem and now I’m re-igniting my hopes that the obscure Afterschool Special may one day sit in my hands (granted I will wear plastic gloves to prevent the spread of any VD!)…

Oh my god, too fab! I hate her!

Someone I Touched is about a married couple and syphilis. Cloris is Laura Hyatt, a career woman dynamo who suffers the strains of a marriage where the husband doesn’t always like her independent status. She’s married to Sam (James Olson), and he’s alright… sometimes. Although the problems between the couple are apparent, one thing they never do is fight. And maybe that’s the problem. Here we are, smack dab in the swinging 70s where women were redefining their roles and men were feeling threatened by it. At the same time this groovy cool attitude permeated the scene, making everyone feel like they had to be all hip about their insecurities. Sure some of them see therapists but they still lack any real communication with their significant others. This leads Sam into a reckless one night stand with a twenty year old grocery store cashier named Carrie (Glynnis O’Connor, looking all of 17). When she is approached by Frank Berlin (Andrew Robinson) from the Health Department and is told she has syphilis, she gives over the names of all of her lovers (all of her heartless lovers, it turns out. Sam can’t even remember her name). Things would be rocky but doable had Laura not gotten pregnant. Now Sam must confess his misdeeds to save the potential horrendous fate of his unborn child.

She even looks amazing when she does the housework!

Someone I Touched really lays everything out in this sort of 70s lackadaisical matter. The way the characters act too-cool-for-school makes them seem removed. While it’s easy to dislike Sam and his dumb mid-life crisis, it’s also hard to evoke too much sympathy for Laura, who eventually confides in her friend that she will always take back her husband, even when he’s cheated. It’s very old-school Harlequin in that respect because the woman plays victim and seems somewhat contented with that role. However, Touched takes a turn and we start to see through the characters thin and aloof veneer, albeit only slightly. I don’t necessarily agree with the outcome of the film, but once we reveal all the secrets, the characters definitely become more real.

Pretty Carrie right before the smackdown with her mom!

I think because it was so early into the 70s, the removed nature is intended to ease the audience into the hot-button subject matter. Syphilis is dangerous but also curable, unlike the herpes epidemic in Intimate Agony. Also Agony goes for the melodrama jugular and really pulls no punches with the characters. I think it’s a more effective film because the actors are allowed to experience darker emotions. But Cloris does look devastatingly fantastic here, and she’s wonderful in the part, I just wish the writers would have allowed her to bite into meatier material. Glynnis and her relationship with her downtrodden mother is by far the best part of this film. It’s sad, and somewhat tragic, as Carrie has no sense of self. She loves the men she sleeps with, even if it’s just a tawdry one night stand. I desperately wanted her to end up with the Health Department guy. Alas, that must have been saved for another film.

I was truly astounded to see this streaming on Netflix and was thrilled I finally got a chance to watch it. Maybe I didn’t get my much dreamt about VD Week, but surely there are other sexually transmitted TV movies to be had… so I plan to keep the dream alive!

Laura preparing to spread her VD! (I know, I went there!)

Update: Check out this review at Movieline! And thanks for the heads up Marc!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

OK, so I am back from my way-too-short vacation and am happy to report that I got married! Yes I did! The mancub and I had a very small ceremony in Santa Barbara and proceeded to spend the rest of our trip drunk! It was fun.

Luckily, this isn't how our wedding day ended:

If we had invited Shelly Winters, we'd be having a different conversation, I'm sure!

I have a couple of weeks left before school starts so I am hoping to get in a few blog posts... well, the goal is to do it every day if I can, but I always say I'll do something and then screw it up, so let's just keep the goal at a few... I am so excited about all the TV goodness going on, so let me start there...

This is definitely TV goodness!

If you happen upon issue #26 of HorrorHound Magazine, you'll see a pretty neat little spread on the history of television horror... and there is a great section on our favorite made for TV movies! YAY!

You will also want to pick up issue #160 of Video Watchdog which features a great piece on Friday the 13th: The Series written by a cool dude named Jeff Allard who runs the awesome blog Dinner with Max Jenke (and he's been known to stop by here as well!).

I also stumbled upon this great article yesterday regarding memorable sitcom deaths. The fact that Elaine from SOAP made the list shows the writer really knew his stuff. There are a ton of great clips to behold as well.

In stranger news, I came across an interesting and perplexing "faux" news story about the remake of the obscure short film Winter of the Witch. The article was a spoof, but triggered my curiosity. Apparently this little film was made in 1969, but aired on CBS in 1977 (although I've also read it aired on PBS and was shown in classrooms). The short is so obscure I was shocked and fairly pleased to see it was worthy of a parody (although the spoofed article is pretty silly). The movie is actually airing on Google Video, so if you have been hunting out this little treasure, now is your chance to catch it once more!

The story is about a woman who buys a house dirt cheap ($500!) and moves herself and her son in. They find that along with it being a large, creepy property, it also comes with a witch who refuses to move out. Eventually the little family soon learns that the witch makes some damn good pancakes! These pancakes have an LSD-like effect on some and on others it just makes them do silly dances. Ah, the late 60s... Where are you now? We need you! The movie is based on a book called The Old Black Witch and is narrated by the lovable Burgess Meredith! I just watched it and I kind of love it!

You can read a review of the movie at The Mystical Movie Guide.