Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TV Spot Tuesday: The Devil's Daughter

I think it would be safe to say that Shelly Winters was a versatile actress. When she was good, she was good, but when she was bad... well, stand back! Winters made a few forays onto the small screen during the heyday of the Movie of the Week. It was here that she got to be at her most nefarious and she did it with such aplomb, it was almost impossible to take your eyes off the screen.

Such is the case with her 1973 TV Movie, The Devil's Daughter, which aired as an ABC Movie of the Week on January 9th, 1973. Shelly is Lilith, a wealthy woman with a mute "companion" (Jonathan Frid in a great performance) who takes in Diane (Belinda Montgomery) after her mother dies (Diane Ladd). The place is quite homey at first, well, except for that picture of Satan hanging over the mantle! Things are almost kind of Stepford-ian and definitely surreal - check out the twin sisters, one of whom is white and the other black! With some encouragement from her local pastor, Diane moves in with a girl her own age, but that won't stop Lilith from leading Diane to her birthright... as Satan's Daughter.

The Devil's Daughter came riding on the heels of such horror films as Rosemary's Baby and The Brotherhood of Satan. Obviously, this minion of Satan could never rival its silver screen counterparts, but pay no mind to that, this is a fun, suspenseful movie that carries a creepy vibe throughout. Belinda Montgomery, one of the prettiest actresses of the 70s, is in fine form here and plays the part fairly quietly, but with an air of strength about her. She finally comes out of her shell when she becomes annoyed by Shelly and she gives the nasty right back!

Full of colorful characters, the Poole sisters are probably my favorite, although it's hard to deny Abe Vigoda with a slight British accent! Frid is equally as sublime in a touching and underrated performance. Oh shoot, I love them all! The entire group truly takes on their roles as cult followers with pleasure.

Stylishly directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2) and written by cult favorite Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude of all things!), there's nary a moment that isn't entertainment at its best. Well, its TV Movie best, and really can that be beat?

Check out this incredible promo for The Devil's Daughter when it aired as a Tuesday Movie of the Week:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TV Spot Tuesday: Bosom Buddies

Although Bosom Buddies only lasted on ABC for a mere two seasons (1980 - 1982), it has remained close to my heart through the years. The premise was ridiculous and pure gold. Two down on their luck male friends need a place to stay and end up having to disguise themselves as women to cash in on a great deal on a small apartment. The men - Kip and Henry (Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari) - were not very feminine at all. Their alter egos, Buffy and Hildegarde were also not very feminine. And that was the Johnny-One-Note joke of the show (although it veered away from that in the second season). While we all love drag, this is not exactly an idea that should last past the length of the excellent Some Like it Hot. But Bosom Buddies works because Hanks and Scolari were simply fantastic in their roles. So was the supporting cast, with a special nod going to the late Wendy Jo Sperber who was simply adorable, and slightly terrifying. And because her character is a lot like me, carrying quite the torch for Peter Scolari!

Courtesy of Vintage Toledo TV

The leads were allowed to work with improvisation and many of the jokes were fast and furious... and unexpectedly hilarious. Both Hanks and Scolari had charisma to spare, and came across as some of the most likeable and adorable men in prime time. Their camaraderie would extend well past the run of the series, and the two have remained friends throughout the years. Hanks hit it big a short time later, and Scolari also had great success as the materialistic Michael on Newhart.

Courtesy of Vintage Toledo TV

Bosom Buddies found a little extra life in 1984 when the series was rerun on ABC. However, the actors had gone on to greener pastures and the chance at a revival was never to be. For whatever reason, I think Bosom Buddies lasted just as long as it should have. It was silly and fun and would become the perfect way to introduce two wonderful actors to the world. And for the most part, the show still makes me smile. That's what it's all about!

Here are some great promos for Bosom Buddies:

And just because the opening was so friggin' amazing (I'm sorry who doesn't love Peter Scolari in shorts?!?):

And here's a funny blooper clip:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TV Spot Twofer! When Michael Calls and The Screaming Woman

Holy cow, are we in for a heavy-duty flashback or what?

Remember when we didn’t have little portable phones with screens that indicated exactly who was calling us? We didn’t even have cordless phones or Star 69 back then either. In fact, we considered ourselves lucky if we didn’t have to rely on rotary dialing! I have to admit that I like texting so I’m not going to say those were the days exactly, but damn, those old telephones allowed for some great horror moments.

When a Stranger Calls, anyone?

Anyway, the title of When Michael Calls basically gives away that phone part, and if it doesn’t, perhaps these awesome book covers will:

When Michael Calls was a made for TV movie based on the novel by John Farris (who would go on to write the novel The Fury was based on) and it aired on February 5th, 1972 as part of the ABC Movie of the Week collection. It featured a young Elizabeth Ashley sporting a nice shag cut, and Ben Gazzara and Michael Douglas also bring in the cute. The movie was fah-reeky, especially those morbid phone calls, which may or may not be coming from the grave. Zoinks.

By the time Michael got around to haunting the airwaves, horror was already sweeping the small screen. Just a few weeks before it’s debut on ABC, The Night Stalker had already knocked the classic tele-films Brian’s Song and My Sweet Charlie out of the top spots for highest rated made for TV films. Yes sir, we loved being scared, and many films followed suit. Michael is probably one of the best remembered from that cavalcade of horror, schlock and other fineries.

If Michael went for all out creepiness, The Screaming Woman epitomized a more graceful world of early 70s TV movies. Airing just a few days before Michael on January 29th (and also as a Movie of the Week), the story about an older woman, who may or may not be insane, was small and intimate. The film was brisk, coming in at a breakneck speed of 74 minutes, which was a defining feature of most tele-films of this era. But most importantly, it touted some serious actress cache. Olivia de Havilland made her TV movie debut in this fun little potboiler, and she adds a serious sense of class to the production.

The two time Oscar winner enjoyed playing the protagonist in Woman and in an interview she said, “I’d never played a part exactly like her before. She’s a dowager, in the first place, and a woman of character.” The role called for Ms. de Havilland to gain 15 pounds which said she took off immediately after filming at a spa. Later, in another interview de Havilland would state that she was not interested in making many small screen films. She said, “I’m against TV movies as a substitute for real movies in general.” One of the reasons she took the part was to work with Walter Pidgeon and Joseph Cotton. Both men noted that television movies were becoming the home for older actors, and that they were having a hard time finding other work. In general, the small screen embraced the mature actors, and they certainly made earnest small screen fare seem a lot more inviting!

And yes, my friends, 1972 TV movie history was born! Check out these cool spots that TV Party uploaded. Tons and tons of small screen fun!

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's Gone all TV Movie Crazy Out There!

Well, I know the weather is frightful, but it's all warm and fuzzy here at Made for TV Mayhem. There has been some serious tele-movie love going on out there, despite the sleet and snow.

The Projection Booth has recently done a podcast dedicated to KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park! Check it out and awesomeness will ensue!

Also, the Daily Grindhouse created a totally radical list of the Must See TV Movies on Netflix! While there's still a couple on the list I haven't seen, I would like to give it a Mayhem seal of approval!

If you are interested in reading more about what's on their fantastic list (I know, I can't believe I haven't seen Children of Times Square yet either), you can read about the following films here:

Million Dollar Ripoff 
The Spell
Cry For the Strangers
Someone I Touched 

And I did another podcast with the Movies About Girls crew. This episode was all about TV Shows About Girls and we looked at the very awesome Petticoat Junction episode Bobbie Jo and the Beatnik!

Finally, I did a non-TV related podcast with the MAG Down Under Variety Hour. Well, we did play an America's Got Talent type game and I did feel like Sharon Osbourne and stuff, so I guess that counts!

Oh wait! Not done yet! Have you read Time Magazine's wonderful article about All My Children and One Life to Live moving to an online format? It's incredibly positive and says exactly what I've been feeling for some time now. Naysayers be damned, yo! 

And I'm going to ask you one last time all nice and stuff to visit the blogs who participated in The Classic TV Blog Association's Variety Show Blogathon! There is an amazingly eclectic batch of articles to sink your retro loving teeth into! Have at it!

Also, we had to interrupt this week's TV Spot Tuesday for the blogathon, so be prepared to resume your regularly scheduled programming next week!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

I should probably make a full confession here: I used the Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon as an excuse to finally sit down and watch The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. I'm not going to lie, I've had a copy of this curiosity for years, which I probably picked up in the back of a Lincoln in a parking lot in Des Moines. OK, I made that up (but it sounded intriguing, right). I most likely bought it because it had this garishly green homemade cover and starred Paul Lynde. I'm sure I thought it would be all edgy and transgressive.

Edgy and transgressive? Sure.
Here is another confession (and probably a bit more shocking): I had a pretty mad crush on Lynde back in my pre-pre-teen days. Yes, I was about 7 and he was hilarious. Therefore, I was to marry him. I sort of forgot about that crush and moved on to guys who were just as unattainable, but in a different way (if you know what I mean).

Match Game vs. Hollywood Squares!
Confession #3: Some of those memories of my love of Paul flooded back during my viewing of this Halloween Special, only now I was a bit freaked out. Am I the only one who notices that thinly veiled anger lying just beneath that smile? Yikes.

He's plotting to kill us all
In Paul's defense, I know he had his problems, but I'm sure starring in this odd, somewhat unfunny special probably did nothing for his disposition. He seems far less angry when he's playing Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, you know, because it's actually funny. I don't blame him for feeling a bit out of sorts on his Halloween Special, which aired exactly one time on ABC on October 29th, 1976. It was a crazy variety show that featured a wide array of talent including KISS (perfectly suited for the show and definitely the best part), Roz Kelly (how I love my Pinky Tuscadero, whether she's going on a shooting spree or not), Betty White, Tim Conway (wha-?), Billy Barty, Florence Henderson looking kind of good in jodhpurs, and strangely enough, Donny and Marie Osmond. It was produced by retro kiddie show favorites Sid and Marty Kroft. The Kroft Brothers brought along Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf and, in a neat bit of casting, Margaret Hamilton who was the infamous Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, plays Witchiepoo's sister. Together they cook up some weird, almost hallucinogenic scenarios for Lynde to joke his way through.

Holy Cow Pinkey!
My favorite part is the oddball truck driver bit, if only because Roz Kelly looks friggin' stupendous in her waitress outfit!

Somewhat less stupendous
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was a fairly sought after curiosity before it hit the legitimate DVD world in 2007. Aside from the surreal nature of the whole thing, it was probably of most interest because it marked KISS' first appearance on TV. It was pretty awesome too. Say what you will, but man, when Peter Criss belts out Beth... swoon time. That's all I'm going to say.

If I had never seen the Telly Savalas variety special Who Loves Ya Baby, I probably would have thought Paul Lynde's entry was the weirdest of bunch, so at least there's that. Or something.

Yeah, right! 
This review is part of the Classic TV Blog Association's Variety Blogathon. Please click here for a list of the other blogs that participated.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon!

 The fine folks at the Classic TV Blog Association are putting on a crazy awesome blogathon this week. We are looking at different variety shows and the thon (as it were) will last from February 3 - 5th. My entry will come up on Tuesday and I hope you enjoy it. For now, here is a list to participating blogs who have been posted so far. Linked for your pleasure! Ooh la la! Anyway, I'll be updating it through the week. It's all fantastic so dive in!

How Sweet it Was dishes on The Judy Garland Show
It's About TV waxes poetic about The Dean Martin Show
Outspoken and Freckled covers one of my favorites, The Flip Wilson Show
And TV Gems tackles The Muppet Show

Four more blog posts today:

The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear takes a look at The Jerry Lewis Show
Michael's TV Tray gets the goods on the Brady Bunch Variety Hour 
Go get nostalgic with a Frank Sinatra Show Christmas
Classic Sports and Media TV looks back at Howard Cosell's Saturday Night Live on ABC

And even more posts today!

Have some toe-tapping fun at the Classic Film and TV Cafe's look back at Shindig