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!

Riptide: The Pilot (1984)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: January 3rd, 1984

If Magnum P.I. and The Whiz Kids had a baby, Riptide would be their love child. Not just content to have machismo running around in tighty whities, Riptide also features a lovable computer geek nicknamed Boz who has a robot called the Ro-Boz, which I'm sorry, is totally adorable! Actually, all of the actors are extremely endearing and a lot of fun to watch. So, although you are guaranteed to get at least two car chases and just as many fist fights (as well as some nice peck checks) per episode, this show is all about friendship. Well, ain't that sweet?

You totally thought I was joking about the tighty whites, didn't you?

Riptide aired from 1984 - 1986, featuring a half first season and then two full seasons. Coming a few years after Magnum and one year before Miami Vice, the pilot was a two hour episode that set up the show as a carefree, action packed mystery involving two burning hunks named Nick and Cody (Joe Penny and Perry King, respectively). The episode starts off with a boat explosion that kills everyone except one beautiful girl who just happened to be scuba diving when the "accident" occurred. She is picked up by grizzled sea captain Mama Joe (Anne Francis who is billed in the main titles of several episodes of the first season, but rarely appears) and given to the Riptide boys, a newbie detective duo who reside on their boat in King's Harbor (a fictional coastal Southern California beach community). Good army buds from the Nam, they also sport healthy competition when it comes to the attention of the ladies, and so begins the solving the mystery behind the sunken boat and the fight for the affection of the survivor, Kimba Hall (Karen Kopins from Fast Forward and Once Bitten, making her one of the coolest chicks on the 80s!).
Thom Bray = so cute!

These down and out detectives bring in their old army bud, Murray "Boz" Bozinsky (Thom Bray), a famous computer whiz who is fed up with his office job (I mean really fed up!) and he brings along the Ro-Boz, who can pretty much do anything except bring you a drink without pouring it on you (this later becomes a bit of an ongoing joke through the show).

The story for the pilot is competent and fun, a little complicated but fairly easy to follow. The show actually featured some fun mysteries in the later episodes. I liked that the crime solving parts were a little Murder, She Wrote. And thusly, it was the birth of a pretty amazing series.

Nick helps the Ro-boz get his investigating-on!

All three seasons of Riptide were recently released on DVD and I just picked up Season One (with Season Two currently on the way!). I had the vaguest memories of this show, but mostly remembered the boat and the easy going flow of action. It's an obvious riff on Magnum P.I. but original enough that I am wary to make any comparisons (except for Cody's mustache, which made him that blonde alternative to Tom Selleck. Nice to know there are choices in these matters!). They doubled the hunk factor but took some great lessons from Magnum's camaraderie with his Nam buds. So yeah, I made a comparison, what of it?

Slightly dumbfounded machismo at its finest!

Riptide was created by Stephen J. Cannell, who along with Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson, made some of the best escapist action television of the 80s. And say what you will about one-off episodes, which often feature characters who disappear in the ether never to be seen again, but the overall enjoyment of this kinds of "mindless" action fare frankly blows a lot of newer stuff out of the water. I remember when people watched television to escape and not to feel all bad about something. Riptide is one of the best of those shows to air in a decade full of great escapist television, and that my friend is no small feat.

Oh, This is Neat!

My computer has been in the shop and just got my puppy back tonight. All looks well and I remembered something I wanted to share... I was recently quoted on the press release for the upcoming DVD re-issue of The Last Horror Film! My dear friend John Kylza at Retro Slashers pointed it out to me! You can read the article here, and there's a link to the actual review they pulled it from!

I make no bones about my love for all things Spinell and this film. Pick it up if enjoy your slashers a little silly, a little slick and a whole lot of fun!

Come to My Retroland!!!

I found this awesome website that is sort of like MySpace for nostalgic fools like myself. The site is called Retroland and I promptly set up my page. I'm having a pretty good time filling in the Timeline section. I mean, I’ve written about the Golden Girls, Modern Girls and Mrs. Garrett’s girls! I am so happy right now!!!

I know, I’m an easy sell.

A Love Letter to Dr. Riverside

Oh, goofy Dr. Stanley Riverside, how I love thee and all your silly faces. You let Gonzo and Trapper John use their reverse psychology, but we all know you’re the one with the brains. You’ve never let me down with your outlandish comic timing and your sweet-as-pie smile.

Dr. Stanley Riverside I love watching you on Trapper John M.D. every Wednesday night on the American Life Network.

You saved a woman’s life with a duster buster, helped an old con artist buy a café, almost made out with a super hot Asian chick and you love your dad. And I love you!



Deceptions (1985)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: May 27th, 1985

What could be better than a mini-series with Stefanie Powers?

How about a mini-series with two Stefanie Powers. I kid you not.

From Non-Fab to Tre-Fab:

The end result (and a nice split screen!):

Stefanie plays Sabrina (Breenie) and Stephanie, twin sisters who have taken two very different paths in life. While Stephanie has settled down and had two kids with her hunky college professor hubby Grant (Barry Bostwick, who is amazing as usual). Her life consists of a seemingly loveless marriage, a part time job at the college bookstore and tending to her young children, one of whom has recently taken upstealing (Jason Miller from Growing Pains. The daughter is played by an extremely young Faruza Balk). She's thrilled when her much more sophisticated sister, Sabrina flies her to Venice for their birthday. On the outside, Breenie is quite enviable with her art collecting gig, closet full of designer clothes, plenty of suitors and a big ol' giant house with a staff! OK, so maybe her life is pretty good. But ask Breenie about it and you're certain to get another answer. This lovely lady has gotten herself mixed up with the seedier side of London's posh scene and finds she is basically a kept woman for the local mobster. He heads out of town for a month, while Breenie and Stephanie head toVenice and hatch their "harmless" scheme... to switch places.

Fabio Testi, a monkey and an ass! Love it!

So off they go, Breenie becomes a housewife (and has a knack for it!) and Stephanie runs around London with one of Breenie's old suitors (played by the gorgeous Fabio Testi from Nothing Underneath). After a car accident, which leaves Breenie bruised, she and Stephanie opt to keep the fantasy up for just a bit longer... but as more time passes while playing this game, the less enticing returning home to suburbia becomes to Stephanie. Then Breenie's mobster boyfriend returns and things take a turn for the worse.

Deceptions is like all of your favorite night time soaps on a more epic level. The scenes in London and Venice are amazing to look at. Gina Lolobriggida plays Princess Alessandra, which should give you a nice clue to how glamorous this movie is. And it's a ton of fun. I put it on expecting to watch only the first half in one sitting and then finish it in another. But I watched this little bit of eye candy from beginning to end in one go. Stefanie is great as both girls and gives each just a touch of difference so you can see why someone would confuse them, but you're also aware of each's unique personality.

My God! I'm gorgeous!

And it's so... 1985. The wardrobe is awesome to behold and the music! Oh, the music! The opening song features "I'm So Excited," by the Pointer Sisters, which sets the pacing for this fun ride. I love a little opulence, but 80s opulence?!? Well, it was just never done better!

And what a great way to twist the escapist "fantasy" so many of us have of a world full of caviar dreams (thank you, Robin Leach!). The lucky girl is the one who realizes that life with a college professor and a couple of kids is far more rewarding than one built on great style, hot men and money. We know that's not true, but what a sweet thought, no?

Jeremy Brett as a gay guy... No one will buy it!

Cry for the Strangers (1982)

Network: CBS
Original Air Date: February 11th, 1982

It would have been almost impossible for any horror nerd growing up in the 80s to not have heard of John Saul. Considered one of the greats of modern genre writing, he's only had one of his books turned into a film, and that film is the not-so-good Cry for the Strangers starring Patrick Duffy.

The Duff with some scruff

Duffy is Dr. Brad Russell, a psychiatrist who moves his family to an island so he can concentrate on his writing. This idyllic place is instantly marred with death when Brad and his wife Elaine (Cindy Pickett) see an old fisherman's body being plucked from the sea on their first day! Undeterred, they move into a beach side home near "Devil's Elbow" (I know, is that a horrible name or what?!?), where it seems some kind of mystical, nefarious activity has been known to take place. Strange things happen, bodies begin to appear and Brad is determined to get to the bottom of this haphazard, half-hearted mystery. Uh, yay?

Devil's Elbow scares chicks!

There's some good stuff in Strangers. Directed by Peter Medak, the scenery is awe-inspiring (minus the one set of clouds rolling in, which they show, like, three hundred thousand times!) and the cast, which includes Brian Keith is pretty good. Unfortunately, the story and pacing leave a lot to be desired. It's just so hard to grasp onto anything of interest in Strangers, and it falters amazingly so.

I'll be honest, I've never read John Saul's work, but I imagine as it usually is with adaptations, the book is better than the film. At least I hope so! And although I know better, I hope he didn't seriously write about a place called Devil's Elbow!

More Links!

Sorry for the lack of content -- I know you're all in tears, ain't ya?

I do have some links from a few things I posted over at Retro Slashers.

I have an unhealthy obsession with a slasher called The Prey:

Come check out my comparison of The Prey and Wrong Turn.

Read my interview with Jackson Bostwick, star of The Prey.

Also, I have a review of a little known but pretty cool slasher called Ghostkeeper. It's a keeper! HA!


Links and stuff!

Looks like the internet finally got cool! A website called Fancast is streaming several made for television movies. Among the Lifetime thrillers, I found some honest to goodness gems. Now, I'm not positive these will stream (some of them I couldn't seem to get the hook up on), but here's the links which you can try yourself (all synopsis pulled off of IMDb, except as noted):

Are you in the House Alone? : This movie is about a teenage girl named Gail who starts to be stalked. Its also about her dramatic friend and her friends boyfriend. He best friend pressures her to date a guy who has nothing wrong. However, then she starts to get scary phone calls at night and notes on her locker.

The Ambush Murders: (synopsis from NY Times) Based on a book by Ben Bradlee Jr., Tony Kayden's script traces the case of an outspoken black activist accused of murdering two white policemen in Lindero, Calif.

Babes in Toyland:11-year-old Lisa has no time for toys; she's too busy taking care of her siblings and cooking for her mother. During the Christmas Eve blizzard, Lisa travels to Toyland in Wizard of Oz-like fashion and arrives just in time for a wedding. Young Mary Contrary is about to marry mean, old Barnaby Barnacle, despite the fact that she loves Jack Be Nimble. Lisa tries to stop this terrible wedding and, together with her new friends, discovers that Barnaby wants to take over Toyland. Lisa, Mary, Jack, and Georgie Porgie ask the Toymaster for help, but he can't help them as long as Lisa doesn't truly believe in toys.

Moon of the Wolf: After several locals are viciously murdered, a Louisiana sheriff starts to suspect he may be dealing with a werewolf.

Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: (synopsis from The All Movie Guide) This made-for-TV miniseries recounts the muddled criminal investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey murder -- one of the most luridly publicized crimes in recent memory. As the crime unfolds, the Boulder police squad grow increasingly swamped by the elusive details of the crime and the unprecedented media attention.

Return of the Rebels: An aging motorcycle gang assemble for a 25-year reunion to help out former member Mary Beth, a widowed operator of a popular campground which is being threatened by a band of arrogant groupies.

Winds of Kitty Hawk: The story of the Wright Brothers and the events that led to the famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC.

Also, you can check out my newest Not So Basic Instincts review at Horror Yearbook. This time around, it’s all been a Tease!