Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mary and Rhoda (2000)

Network: ABC
Air Date: February 7th, 2000
I’m just going to put it out there for everyone… I liked the Mary and Rhoda reunion movie. Did I love it? No, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. I’m sure some of it comes from the fact that Mary and Rhoda are simply creatures of comfort. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Rhoda. I actually didn’t get into the Mary Tyler Moore Show until later, but I remember being a big fan of Rhoda when her show first went into syndication in the 70s. I loved her apartment, I loved her sister, and boy, did I love Joe (David Groh). OK, I didn’t love him right off the bat, I liked him, and was sad when their marriage didn’t work out. Then I was terrified by him when he played D.L. Brock on General Hospital. Then I fell in love with him as an adult when I had a chance to watch Smash-Up on Interstate 5. It took 30 years for me to realize how incredibly gorgeous he was, but once I did I never looked back! As an aside, I saw David Groh about a year or so before he passed away eating lunch at the restaurant next to my work. He was in a heated conversation with his friend and after I got about 10 feet away from him, both my friend I looked at each other very excitedly and squealed “That was David Groh!!!” which was kind of awesome since my friend is a guy and doesn’t really squeal. But that’s the effect David had on us. Wait, that wasn’t just an aside, that whole opening was an aside… Back to work…

Mary and Rhoda was intended to be a television series, but because the pilot was not well received by the ol’ ABC execs the show was eventually turned into a TV reunion movie. Moore, who served as executive producer stated during filming that she saw Mary and Rhoda as the first of a series of movies where she could bring back people like Lou Grant. Moore said in an interview, “My feeling at the time was, since we had so many new people to introduce, we should stick with our new family.” Moore also revealed that working as a producer on this project was stressful and that she longed for her old buddies on the set. "It would have made me feel a lot comfier,” she said in the same interview, “to have some of those pals around, but that’s something for future projects, maybe.” That maybe was of course never to be, because despite the fact that it was an enormous success in terms of the numbers of viewers (somewhere around 18 million!), it was considered tepid at best by the critics (and many of the fans). I would imagine the biggest complaints were that the humor was a lot more sentimental and sweet and less laugh out loud, and omitting the old Minneapolis crew was a let down.

Mary and Rhoda picks up about two decades later as both the of the women find themselves in New York City. Mary’s senator husband has just died in a rock climbing accident (!) and Rhoda is divorced from some French guy that she apparently really hates! They both have daughters that are the same age, and each one has been named in tribute of mother’s BFF. Rhoda’s daughter is named Meredith (Marisa Ryan) and Mary’s daughter is named Rose (Bethany Joy Lenz) after, you guessed it, Rhoda! Although the movie doesn’t really delve into the daughter’s characters, it looks like they could have been switched at birth. Meredith is pragmatic and smart and Rose uses every situation to make a joke. In fact, she wants to leave school to become a comedian. Too bad she’s not so good at it. Hey, we can’t all be Rhoda. But the crux of the movie, and a reason I really enjoyed it, was that it made a strong statement about women and ageism in the workplace. Both Mary and Rhoda want to get back to their old career women lives, but neither is taken seriously. There’s a humorous interview montage where Mary begins lying about her age and it ends with her asking, “How old do you think I look?” as she peeks out behind dark sunglasses. In the end, Mary is only hired for a news show because the boss is worried that he’s going to be sued by another disgruntled employee for age discrimination. Mary sets out to prove herself to the station with a rather schmaltzy news story involving white gangs! I kid you not. It’s silly, it’s heavy-handed, it’s overly sentimental and it’s probably the weakest part of the movie (definitely expect to groan a little), but it works in the story, since Mary is still portrayed as the girl who likes to let her heart get in the way of sensationalism.

Rhoda’s story isn’t as strong, but it’s more fun, as she ends up being an assistant to a fashion photographer. Of course, humor always gets her on people’s good side, and this time is no different. Honestly, I’m a Rhoda-phile, so I would have preferred more Rhoda, but overall I thought the film was sweet. Does it compare to either Mary or Rhoda’s phenomenal shows? No, it doesn’t even come close, but it’s so innocuous, I can’t really complain much. I just loved seeing these two lovely ladies reunited. While I won’t recommend the movie, I will say if you are a TV movie softie like me, you will probably enjoy it.

Just had to throw in one pic of Joe! Rawr!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Read Bad Ronald on Kindle! And More TV Mayhem!

You only need to look at my blog to know I'm always a little behind the times... I just saw the Mary and Rhoda reunion movie last month for crissakes! But even I'm surprised at some of the cool stuff I've missed. For one, did you know the original novel Bad Ronald was available on Kindle for only $5.99?!? I only found out today when I randomly looked up the book... you know, for giggles. The paperback is also available for under $20.00! Again, who knew? I have lived most of my adult life assuming the book to Bad Ronald would forever elude me, and this thing called technology showed up, and here we are! Anyway, if you like TV movies, then you probably adore Bad Ronald, so I suggest picking up the book now that it's actually affordable! (and, in case you are interested, here's the link to my review of the movie).
Also, you might want to dig just a little into your pocketbook next month because the rare short lived television series Ghost Story aka Circle of Fear's first season is coming out on DVD!!! Holy cow. I wish I could take credit for discovering Ghost Story's exciting DVD release, but I actually got the info from a nice young man named Jeremy who frequents my Facebook page. Thanks Jeremy! You're a pip! Also, another FB page friend named Shamos has been giving his own love to the made for TV movie and I implore you to visit his Tumblr page called Shameful Clutter! It's pretty fab. He's also been adding photos to the FB page, so please stop and "like" it and then join us in all the Mayhem-ness!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Rape of Richard Beck airing on This TV this Sunday!

The Rape of Richard Beck (aka Deadly Justice) is a controversial made for television film which originally aired on May 27th on ABC. Directed by Karen Arthur, Beck was nominated for 2 Emmys and one Golden Globe (Crenna was nominated by both organizations). Richard Crenna plays Beck, a tough as nails cop who is completely insensitive to sexual assault crimes. Needless to say, the tables are turned when he is attacked. Beck comes under the same scrutinies he put other victims through and is transformed because of the crime. I saw this movie for the first time about 10 years ago, and I remember it was pretty harrowing stuff, and that was in the early 2000s. I can only imagine what was going through people's heads in 1985 and I commend the filmmakers and Crenna for tackling such a heavy duty subject. It is airing at 3 am on This TV, but I'm not sure if that's only the Eastern Standard Time or not. Check out their site for the deets! For those of you who don't get This TV, you can buy the movie on DVD. I'm kind of surprised that Beck isn't brought up more, as it's fairly unique and it shows that even towards the end of reign of the TV movie, there was still plenty of interesting stuff airing.

(btw, I was just looking at the DVD cover and tagline and I think it does a total disservice to the film. It looks like some action flick. I can only imagine what blind buyers are thinking when they pop it in the DVD player!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark (1929 - 2012)

America's Oldest Teenager certainly did seem eternally youthful and boyishly handsome through a good portion of his life. Dick Clark spent most of my childhood on my television screen or closely behind the scenes on such shows as American Bandstand, The $25,000 Pyramid, TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes and New Year's Rockin' Eve. His company Dick Clark Productions also produced a few TV movies including Murder in Texas (1980) and The Demon Murder Case (1983). He was also responsible for producing the awesomely bizarre special called Men Who Rate a Ten (Holy cow)! And who could forget Valentine Magic on Love Island (1980)? OK, so I have seen it yet, but I will (or mark my words, I will).

I'll be honest, I don't know much about Dick Clark except for what I've seen on camera. He had an affable presence and gave me a lot of wonderful memories. I think American Bandstand must have been on my television ever Saturday from the time I was 10 until I graduated high school. Only recently have I re-watched The $25,000 Pyramid where he gave everyone approximately 15 seconds to shamelessly promote themselves, so he could keep the game rolling. He was an awesome presence, yet it often felt like he wasn't doing much of anything. He had a great smile and that way about him. I never felt like he was forcing himself on the audience and he was the heppest square I ever saw. In short, I adored watching Clark whenever he was on TV. After his stroke in 2004, my heart would always break a little when he appeared on New Year's Rockin' Eve but at the same time it also inspired me to see that he was still proudly putting himself out there. A show business professional all the way, his last appearance was last year on Rockin' Eve. Clark passed away today at the age of 82.

Clark is survived by his wife and three children, as well as Dick Clark Productions, which is probably one of the greatest legacies television could ask for. RIP Mr. Clark, and thank you for the memories.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ladykillers (1988)

Today is Marilu Henner's birthday, and to celebrate I thought it would be fun to reprint this review I wrote for her excellent TV movie Ladykillers. I reviewed it eons ago for another site, and I thought it was high time it made its way to my little blog dedicated to the small screen movies I adore. Ladykillers is one of my favorites. It's as fluffy and airy as cotton candy and just as sweet!

I actually wrote a shorter review of Ladykillers here at MFTVM when I first got rolling and I compared it to the other male stripper TV flick For Ladies Only. You can read the madness here.

Happy Birthday Marilu!

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: November 9th, 1988

Let's face it, TV Movies get a bum rap. Just the other day my good friend was asking me if I had seen the Jan Michael Vincent/Charles Bronson action flick, The Mechanic, which he referred to as “One step above a TV Movie.” Don’t get me wrong, he practically froths at the mouth every time I mention the words Sweet Hostage, but he is also well aware of the confines of the Movie of the Week Syndrome. No foul language, no nudity and toned down violence can certainly dampen anyone’s good time. His casual insult kind of hits the mark when it comes to many TV movies, but Ladykillers simply isn’t happy being that kind of movie and this one goes all the way to becoming the hottest thing since feathered hair and roach clip barrettes and in my modest eyes, it’s a minor cult classic.

Originally released on November 9th, 1988 on ABC, Ladykillers is about a serious female plain-clothes detective played by Marilu Henner (sporting some serious cleavage in various scenes) who falls in love with a rookie named Cavanaugh (Thomas Calabro). Their first case together is to find a lady in an intriguing Tina Turner wig and a muumuu (or frock if you want to add a bit of class) who is stalking the male strippers at Ladykillers, the hippest nightclub in town. The veritable hotspot features bartenders in silver get-ups, an MC who says “All you sexy, sexy ladies”, various oiled up men dancing to the biggest hits of the year, women with NO shame and a club owner named Morgana (Leslie Anne Down with some awesome gravity defying hair!) who purrs lines like “My clients will devour him.” Unfortunately, our bold killer actually attacks the victims during their big number at the end of the show! And, ironically, it ends up being good for business. I mean, I kind of like G strings and carnage myself. To uncover the sinister culprit, Cavanaugh goes undercover as Mr. Chippendales himself! I won’t say much about my favorite Melrose Place alumni but his fabulous gorilla like dance moves have to be seen to be truly enjoyed. To do these steps yourself, just remember: knuckle drag – butt swing – knuckle drag – butt swing and you’ll have it!

Ladykillers is a movie that came and went, although it enjoyed a small release on vhs. It may just seem like another footnote to the hundreds of TV movies that came out in the 80s. However, where most episodic programming and small screen features were highlighting the latest music of the decade with remakes of current hits (obtaining the originals was often a very expensive venture), Ladykillers featured all original tunes including songs by Living Color, Midnight Oil and Jeffrey Osborne. I’ll admit it was quite startling to see someone in fur boots stripping to Midnight Oil’s profoundly political song Beds are Burning, but he got naked, so who cares?!? Oh yeah, and it’s a good song.

Jeffrey Osborne’s dynamic Stay With Me Tonight is the showcase song (i.e. it’s the one Calabro strips too) and for many years I enjoyed watching this movie just to hear it. Well, and to watch Calabro strip.

These fabulous photos come courtesy of TV Spielfilm.

And for more naked men mayhem, please read my article about Made for TV Machismo and Playgirl.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Woman in Black Could Be Haunting Your House on May 22nd!

The Woman in Black remake is coming to DVD on May 22nd so if you missed it or you just enjoyed it (like I did), please pick up a copy.

You can read my review of it here and you can also read my review of the original here.

I updated the links in the Movies About Girls Podcast section on the right. I recently rejoined the crew to discuss Black Snake Moan! I got way too serious about the whole affair (too many theory classes this semester), but I had a blast. Please check it out!

Like a dummy, I had no idea that Mary and Rhoda was on DVD, so just in case you missed it on Hallmark last week, you still have a chance to see it (for better or worse). I'll have a review of it going online soon (one hopes).

I'm also gearing up for finals so things might be a little sparse round these parts for the next couple of weeks. I would like to invite you all to check out my Facebook Page and like, like, LIKE it! I try to post there daily, so it's a good way to get your TV movie fix!