Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
Buddy Page
View Profile
« October 2005 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Shag Undercover

I know, it looks like a MAD parody, doesn't it? I've posted here before about the woes NBC faced in the late 1970's, putting shows on the air like QUARK, A MAN CALLED SLOANE, SUPERTRAIN and other notable bombs that left the network a perennial third-placer. But this show was dead meat right from the opening titles. After all, how could anyone take seriously a tough crime drama called...DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER?

You can't really blame executive producer David Gerber for trying it. After all, the show was a spinoff of an episode of the acclaimed anthology series POLICE STORY, aired May 28, 1978. In "A Chance to Live", David Cassidy, the former PARTRIDGE FAMILY front man, guest-starred as a youthful cop who went undercover in a Los Angeles high school to ferret out drug dealers. The episode received a high Nielsen rating, and Cassidy was nominated for an Emmy. So, what the heck, why not have Cassidy bust bad guys every week?

Well, what the hell, DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER? Reportedly, the titles UNDERCOVER and MAN UNDERCOVER were already taken or under copyright or some such rot. It seems as though there are a million other titles better than the one Gerber and NBC chose to go with, but...

DC--MU premiered on NBC in the fall of '78, but not to overwhelmingly optimistic ratings. Cassidy reprised his POLICE STORY role as undercover detective Dan Shay with the great Simon Oakland (KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER) as his police boss and Wendy Rastatter as his wife. It was unusual then and now for a leading man in a cop show to have a happy married home life.

Best I can remember, the plots were standard '70s cop fare, chasing arsonists, bank robbers, drug lords and bikers. WGN-TV reran some episodes around 1990. Unfortunately, I recorded them (and episodes of the equally shortlived RIKER with Josh Taylor) on a Beta machine, and the VCR and tapes are long gone. Cassidy, of course, co-wrote and recorded the theme song, which was never released on vinyl or CD.

Check out this totally bogus publicity still of Cassidy and co-star Oakland. Posed? Ya think?

Since my memories of the series are fuzzy, I relied on, believe it or not, a DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER Web site for some information. So if you don't believe me that this show actually existed (I wouldn't), check it out for yourself.

Posted by Marty at 11:08 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (5) | Permalink
Monday, October 17, 2005
Billy Bob's?
It's true--there really is a place called Billy Bob's. Chicken and Darcy discovered this little bar/restaurant last weekend called Billy Bob's, which is located in a tiny town about 15 miles from here called Ogden. Population less than 1000. I don't know how they found this place, but they found out Billy Bob's served $1.25 tacos and $1.50 beers (in a can) on Monday nights, so they were obsessed with going there for MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. We actually ended up mostly watching the Astros/Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS, an exciting come-from-behind victory for the Cards on a 3-run 9th-inning homer by Albert Pujols. I had a steak sandwich and fries, which was pretty good, but Chicken had eight fucking tacos and Darcy pounded ten. He was ready for two more, but the kitchen ran out of meat. He thought he could have done 15 altogether. I was ready to bet him after ten tacos that he couldn't do 50 situps (he also had about six beers). He was willing, but I drove us out to Ogden, and I was afraid of projectile vomiting from the backseat on the way home.

Over the weekend, I was able to watch crappy movies for the first time in two weeks. Most of my viewing has been limited to baseball and TV series since then. I first watched A STRANGER IS CALLING, which I was reviewing for The Hub. I'll post my review here next week after it runs in The Hub, but I'll say that it's a pretty decent little thriller with tight direction by Sean Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH), a terrific score by Lalo Schifrin, and nice performances by Rip Torn (as the psycho) and a young Kate Mulgrew, later Captain Janeway on STAR TREK: VOYAGER.

I also watched Mondo Crash's DVD of DEATH DIMENSION, which is no more than an unremastered videotape source (complete with creases and rolls). It's directed by Al Adamson, one of exploitation cinema's dullest filmmakers, although this one is pretty watchable by his standards. It still sucks though. Jim Kelly (ENTER THE DRAGON) is a cop named Ash who is assigned by his boss (former 007 George Lazenby) to investigate a plot by an archvillain known as The Pig (Harold "Oddjob" Sakata) to detonate a "freeze bomb", a weapon that turns the landscape to ice. It's nothing more than a McGuffin that never impacts the story. The Pig can't use the bomb until he gets the formula for it, which is lodged inside the head of the pretty assistant to the dead scientist who created it. The great stuntman Bob Minor is The Pig's vicious henchman (who gets hit by a car), Kelly is partnered with a Chinese actor who calls himself Myron Bruce Lee (!), and there's plenty of boring action sequences and unexceptional '70s tits to keep you mildly interested. DEATH DIMENSION is probably about as good as BLACK SAMURAI, Kelly's other film for Adamson, although that one had jet packs and midgets in it.

Posted by Marty at 11:31 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Brushes With Greatness
A couple of co-workers were talking the other day about their "brushes with greatness" (didn't Letterman invent that term?), their encounters with celebrities, and I thought it might be a good way to fill some space here.

My favorite one is the sit-down interview I had with actor Robert Forster. He was in Champaign as a guest of Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival, and I chatted with him about the film he was presenting, the excellent DIAMOND MEN. It was to be for MICRO-FILM, a publication devoted to independent movies, so I talked to him mostly about DIAMOND MEN and a film he directed, produced and starred in back in the '80s for Cannon called HOLLYWOOD HARRY. We touched on some of his other work too, like his films for William Lustig and his TV shows. It never ran in MICRO-FILM, but you, dear readers, can find it right here at Mobius Home Video Forum. Forster was a very nice man, a great storyteller, and a real thrill to chat with, especially since I had admired him since I was a kid.

I'm really proud of my sit-down interview with director Bert I. Gordon, since, outside of a piece he did with VIDEO WATCHDOG, this might be the only career-length interview the octogenarian has ever given, making it somewhat important in the realm of cult movies (and I think mine is better than VW's, absolutely no offense intended towards the makers of that excellent publication, some of whom are friends of mine). Gordon, the director of such sci-fi favorites as BEGINNING OF THE END, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS, EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and many others, was a guest of the University of Illinois' annual Insect Fear Film Festival, where they showed three of his films about giant bugs. Again, it was to be for MICRO-FILM, but never ran there, so go back to Mobius to read it. Gordon was a nice man, though a bit vain, and talking to him was a delightful way to spend an hour or so.

One of these days, I'll get around to transcribing my telephone interview with Troma president Lloyd Kaufman. This article actually did run in MICRO-FILM. It was about Troma's then-new release TERROR FIRMER, and I spent nearly two hours on the phone with Kaufman chatting about it and several other things. It was the first "celebrity" interview I had ever done, and, boy, Lloyd made it easy. I did it from the production studio of the radio station I was working at then, and recorded the whole thing on both reel and cassette tape. Well, we chatted so long that I ran out of tape (!), so I only have about 90 minutes. He was in a hotel room in Dallas, and a couple of times, I said something like, "Well, I'll let you go, because I'm sure you're a busy guy" (our talk went from after 10pm to just past midnight), but he was all, "Nah, don't worry about it, I'm having a good time." Kaufman is a crude, cantankerous, mischievous man who is surprisingly erudite, funny and entertaining. I'm not much of a Troma fan, but Kaufman definitely charmed me.

I chatted on the phone one afternoon with Fred "The Hammer" Williamson. John Riley and I were doing a TV show called THE ONLY THING ON, and he mentioned that his friend Doug Bryan was a film editor in Dallas, and was then working on Williamson's new movie (STEELE'S LAW, I think). So John called Doug at work and said, "How's Fred?" "Fine, he's sitting right here, wanna talk to him?" So I rapped with The Hammer for ten minutes or so, partially about Super Bowl I and mostly about THREE THE HARD WAY and its "sequel" ONE DOWN TWO TO GO, which Fred claimed was the world leader in being stolen from video stores or something like that. Again, a very charming fellow and it was great of him to say hello.

M*A*S*H star Larry Linville made a promotional appearance for a radio station I worked at in Bloomington-Normal. I only worked there for about four months, and most of my memories are lost, but I think this took place at Bombay Bicycle Club, and all I recall is that Larry was pretty hammered and had a good time putting his arms around all the women. I shook his hand, said hi, and that was about it, although when he visited the station the next day, he recorded a funny "drop-in" for me to use on the air.

I never met comedian Marty Allen face-to-face, but when I was doing overnights at WCIL-FM in Carbondale, my "producer" Dave Crome would get Marty on the phone in Las Vegas, and I'd interview him on the air live. I think we did this about three times, for no other reason that we loved HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and we thought it would be fun to talk to Marty Allen. Which it was. For us, not the teenagers in the audience.

In Carbondale, I also got to meet Jim Hart many times. The former St. Louis Cardinal quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer was Southern Illinois University's athletic director for several years. I also knew (barely) his daughter, and I think I met Dan Dierdorf down there, but I can't recall for sure.

I briefly met Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer at the DuQuoin State Fair. WCIL-AM and -FM were broadcasting live from there, and I was standing at the AM booth waiting to go on after Steve Farkas went off the air. Shaffer was performing that night with The World's Most Dangerous Band, and happened to get off a golf cart in front of our booth and wander over to us while Steve was on the air. I don't know if it was set up or if Shaffer just wanted to be on the radio, but he came over to us, shook our hands, and talked to Steve on-air for a couple of minutes.

ESPN's Dan Patrick was very nice to us. He came to Carbondale to broadcast an SIU basketball game and then partied at my friend Dave's house afterwards. All night. I got off the air at 6:00am, and everyone was still there. He ended up driving straight to St. Louis around 8:00 and boarding a plane for Connecticut. Somewhere exists photos of Patrick shaving our friend Wendy's legs. Not long after that, he did another Saluki game in St. Louis, and we went out with him again to an establishment called P.T.'s that provided, um, adult entertainment. That was a fun night and another all-nighter.

We first met ESPN's Gary Miller when he was at CNN. For some reason, we were planning a road trip to Atlanta, and, since Miller was an SIU grad, we thought we'd see if we could meet him and get a tour. So we called him at work. He wasn't in, but CNN gave us his home number (WTF?). He eventually called us back, and when Brad, Dave, Michelle and I went to CNN Center, he graciously took us around and gave us a tour of CNN studios. A couple of years later, we hooked up with him again in Chicago during the Bulls/Suns NBA Finals, and had a terrific time staying out late, drinking and chatting. I think he appreciated not having to talk sports all the time, since he was also an appreciator of bad TV like us. Yes, I will always cherish our conversation about the merits of Vic Mizzy. I remember Chris Fowler was also around that night, but didn't say too much.

My first (brief) brush with greatness was with one of the Bellamy Brothers, I don't know which one, when he called the radio station in Farmer City I was working for to talk to my boss, I think about setting up an on-air interview. I just happened to answer the phone. I remember, when I later worked at WCIL, musical acts like Vixen, Winger, Tora Tora and others coming in. I saw them, but I can't honestly remember if I officially met them or not. And, really, who could remember meeting these guys?

I suppose it doesn't officially count, but with my background in broadcasting, several of my friends are "greatness", since they work in the radio and television industries and are celebrities of a sort. The list includes, but is by no means limited to, Steve Stewart, Hall of Famer Marty Brennaman's partner on Cincinnati Reds radio broadcasts; Dave Crome at the WB in Dallas (his colleague Bob Irzyk is also an old college acquaintance and a nice guy), one of my best friends; Beth Galvin in Atlanta, married to another close friend from school, Brad White; Amy Brooke in Phoenix and many others.

Yeah, I know, none of these stories are on the same level as "snorting coke off Tia Carrere's backside", but, hey, I live in downstate Illinois, it's the best I could do.

Posted by Marty at 9:56 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (7) | Permalink
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Yeah, I Know
I've been slow on the updates lately. Sorry 'bout that. I've been spending my nights watching postseason baseball, which has provided a lot of very exciting games. They hardly get more exciting than last night's American League Game 2, where the umpires booted a call in the bottom of the ninth, giving the White Sox a second chance. Joe Crede took advantage of it by lacing a double to left, scoring A.J. Pierzynski with the winning run. Sox 2, Angels 1. The umpiring crew should get a job with the Bush administration the way they denied the obvious after the game.

Anyway, get off my back, shut up and look at this screen grab of Fred Willard. 1967's TEENAGE MOTHER is one of the most frightening flicks I've seen lately. Not that it's a horror film--it most certainly isn't--even though it gave me the willies just the same. Just make sure you don’t screen this one in mixed company.

What plays for its first hour or so as a routine but outdated (by at least ten years) juvenile delinquency drama decrying the effects of sex education on horny teens takes a turn for the bizarre when director Jerry Gross splices into it an actual birth of a baby. It’s quite jarring to suddenly, without warning, have a close-up of a spread vagina pushed right into your face. Especially one that has been shot with a grainy 16mm camera and the color has faded, leaving an unappetizing pink...mess. Now I'm getting nauseous again. I won't even think about when the baby's head comes out, and the doctors use these giant spaghetti tongs to grab it and yank it out, leaving globs of baby goo in its wake. Can you tell I'm not a parent? Seriously, this movie makes childbirth look like a Nazi experiment.

Erika Petersen arrives in a regular American town from Sweden (!) to teach sex ed at the local high school. Meanwhile, good girl Arlene is dating baseball star Tony, but sometimes flirts with bad boy Duke, who attempts to rape Erika. When Arlene announces that she’s pregnant, her indignant dad blames the school system for teaching her about sex, leading to a town council meeting where the beautiful/horrifying birth film is shown. Now I know why fathers used to hide in the waiting room pacing and smoking cigars.

As usual for this type of film, the performers are much too old for their roles. However, it’s fun to see Fred Willard, later of FERNWOOD 2-NIGHT and many fine film comedies (I most recently saw him in HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE), playing it straight as a baseball coach. I can't wait to meet Willard someday, just so I can say, "Hey, man, you totally kicked ass in TEENAGE MOTHER."

Posted by Marty at 7:55 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 13, 2005 7:56 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Saturday, October 8, 2005
Dammit, Toler, You Had To Ask
Read Tolemite's comment in the previous posting to get where this is coming from. Like anyone needs to justify posting pics of a robot Batman. Both covers drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

Posted by Marty at 2:30 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Friday, October 7, 2005
Holy Crap! Invisible Robots?!

I think this comic book cover just made Tolemite, the world's biggest fan of robots, explode.

In the 13-page story "The Wizard of 1,000 Menaces", the Dynamic Duo does indeed fight foes that are not only robots...but also invisible! Incredible! Long-time Batman artist Sheldon Moldoff drew this cover for DETECTIVE COMICS #306 (August 1962) and pencilled the story, which was inked by Charles Paris. The backup story was a 12-pager starring John Jones, the Manhunter from Mars, who eventually became known as J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

Many of today's Batman fans are stunned to see these Silver Age stories, which were a long way from the Dark Knight characterization they're familiar with. It was not unusual for Batman to battle robots, aliens, extra-dimensional beings, monsters, giants or other fantastic foes. Some of them are a lot of fun and are certainly better than the so-called "New Look" Batman created in the mid-'60s.

Those stories, which mostly coincided with the campy ABC TV show, were limply written and drawn, and it wasn't until creators like Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Irv Novick, Bob Brown, Frank Robbins and others brought the character back to Earth around 1969 that Batman stories, in BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS, were worth reading again. I think the character hit its peak in those stories of the early- to mid-1970's, when Batman was both a grim avenger of the night and an appealing character with a sense of humor. Batman actually enjoyed his "job", and the writers often created intricate mysteries befitting his nickname of the Darknight Detective. I don't think Batman has done much actual detecting in comics in decades.

For Batman at his best, seek out stories like "Moon of the Wolf" (written by Len Wein and adapted as an episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES) in a 100-page BATMAN or "Red Water, Crimson Death" (by O'Neil/Adams) in an atmospheric THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD that featured a "teamup" between Batman and the House of Mystery. The only stories that come close to capturing the atmosphere, scope and mystery of the '70s Batman (later in the decade, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin did an incredible job drawing the character) are the first handful that appeared in DETECTIVE in 1939 and 1940, although Bob Kane's crude artwork, effective as it was at the time, doesn't stand up next to Adams, Brown, Novick, Dick Giordano et al.

Posted by Marty at 11:51 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (5) | Permalink
Thursday, October 6, 2005
Swamp Thing Fights A Robot!

I thought Tolemite especially might get a kick out of this. If you love monsters and you love robots, you'll doubly love SWAMP THING #6, published by DC Comics in 1973. Swamp Thing falls off a cliff and finds himself in a believed-abandoned New England mining town that has been redecorated to resemble a 17th-century Swiss village. It turns out that a scientist who fled Switzerland when the Nazis invaded escaped to the U.S., where he built a town full of benevolent, human-looking androids for company. His peaceful existence ends tragically when The Conclave, a vast criminal organization, tracks Swamp Thing to the town and tries to kidnap the scientist to aid in its own robotics experiments. The old man refuses and is murdered by Conclave goons, who are led by a talking robot controlled from Gotham City by the organization's leader. Swamp Thing kicks the robot's ass, but not before the Conclave goons are murdered by the town's pissed-off androids, which are all destroyed in the process.

As written by Len Wein, drawn by the great Berni Wrightson, and edited by Joe Orlando, the creative team that created Swamp Thing a couple of years earlier in HOUSE OF SECRETS #92, this story, "The Clockwork Horror", is damned good, as were all of the Wein/Wrightson collaborations. I think Wrightson left the book after ten issues and Wein after eleven.

I don't believe SWAMP THING was ever a great seller, but it was excellent and attracted a lot of attention for its high quality. Sales dropped off after Wein and Wrightson left the book, and it was cancelled after #24. The character continued (and still does) to pop up in DC stories, including some oddball, but fun and well-illustrated, teamups with Deadman and the Challengers of the Unknown in the Challs' late-1970's title penned by Gerry Conway and penciled by a young Keith Giffen.

Posted by Marty at 12:28 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Tuesday, October 4, 2005
"I am...Kirrooookkkk!"

I've got a bunch of silly images trapped on my hard drive, so I thought I'd occasionally post one and see how it plays with you.

In the STAR TREK episode "The Paradise Syndrome", Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is stranded on a pretty Earth-like planet populated by aliens who closely resemble American Indians. He bumps his head and gets amnesia, but when he uses 23rd-century first aid to save the life of a young boy, the tribe considers him to be a magical medicine man named "Kirok". He falls in love with the chief's racktastic daughter, Miramanee (Sabrina Scharf), and gets her pregnant.

That's pretty far out for a 1960's adventure show; leading men did not impregnate guest stars every day. Or maybe ever. Of course, the reason for that is that guest stars come and go, but Shatner is going to be back on the Enterprise next week. So you just know Miramanee is doomed.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise, with Spock in command, is backtracking the predicted path of a meteor that is due to smash into the Indian planet. Phaser power is too weak to blow the rock up, but the ship rushes back to the planet at exactly the same time Kirok/Kirk gets his memory back and discovers the Indian temple is actually an asteroid deflector built by the planet's ancestors to knock big rocks out of the orbit path. Miramanee is stoned to death by her tribe, and Kirk mourns her just before he beams back up to the ship.

Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but most SF plots do out of context. "The Paradise Syndrome" benefits from lovely location shooting, an unusual premise, a good performance by Shatner (who gets to grow out his sideburns for this one episode), the foxy Sabrina Scharf, a rigorous fight scene between Kirk and his romantic rival for Miramanee's affections (Kirk uses his patented two-legged chest kick), and a genuinely emotional finale.

You also get to see Shatner ham it up in war paint, screaming to the gods, "!"

Posted by Marty at 11:51 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2005 11:25 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Damn Yankees
I thought it going in and I'm just as convinced now that the New York Yankees are the front-runners to win the World Series. They looked pretty good against the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tonight, winning 4-1. The downside of watching the game is listening to the inanities spewed by Fox broadcasters Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. They demonstrated their cluelessness in the first inning when discussing Yankee manager Joe Torre's decision to start Mike Mussina in Game 1 of the Divisional Series, citing Mussina's experience in postseason Game 1's. While they were talking, Fox posted a stat showing that Mussina had started six Game 1's in his career, but had not pitched particularly well in them. Of course, Buck and McCarver bent over backwards talking about the two starts Mussina actually had pitched well in.

Jeanne Zelasko: worst hair on TV.

I got a flat tire after work last Thursday and it took me until Sunday afternoon to get a new one, basically because I needed a ride to the tire store. It took me a couple of hours Thursday evening to put my spare donut on, because A) my lug wrench snapped in two, and B) none of my neighbors who were home had one that was the right size (after they graciously dug them from their trunks). Finally, another neighbor returned and not only had a wrench that fit my nuts, but also helped take the tire off. It was dark by the time I got the spare on, but when I went to take it on a test drive, I found out that the spare was flat too. Yes, I did some cursing. So I sat on my rear in the apartment all weekend until my dad could come by Sunday and drive me to Wal-Mart, where I shelled out $84 for a new tire. Since I had just the week before received a $75 check from The Hub for writing film reviews, I figured this must be some higher power's idea of a funny joke. Heh.

I'm really liking SUPERNATURAL, even though A) some of the story points stretch believability (the two leads have little trouble getting people to believe their cockamamie stories of ghosts and monsters) and B) it pretty blatantly rips off THE X-FILES, not surprising, perhaps, considering its first three episodes were helmed by two of THE X-FILES' best directors. I like the simple straightforwardness of the storytelling and the relationship between the leading characters, who are brothers and act like it. For instance, in tonight's episode, the older brother got some gunk on his fingers and surreptitiously wiped it off on his brother's suit. There also was some humor between them when one brother discovered the other was afraid of flying, which sucks when you have to board an airplane piloted by a demon that plans to crash it in 40 minutes.

Posted by Marty at 10:47 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, October 2, 2005
There's No One Left To Fly The Plane!
Now Playing: MAYDAY
Kudos to CBS for being virtually the only television network to continue producing crappy movies for its Sunday night lineup. Following in the lowbrow footsteps of last season's SPRING BREAK SHARK ATTACK and LOCUSTS comes MAYDAY, which aired tonight.

It's based on a novel co-written by Nelson DeMille. I have read most of DeMille's work, including THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER, CATHEDRAL and WORD OF HONOR, but somehow missed this one. If director TJ Scott adapted it accurately, then it doesn't seem as though it was worth reading.

MAYDAY is a movie you've already seen a zillion times, from big-budget studio affairs like AIRPORT 1975 and SKYJACKED (hmmm, both with Charlton Heston) to low-budget DTV schlock like GROUND CONTROL and TURBULENCE 3: HEAVY METAL. It's the 1,583,433rd movie about a novice pilot who takes over the cockpit of a passenger jet and manages to land it with help from the control tower and a stiff-upper-lipped stew. MAYDAY does throw in an interesting twist that I don't think I've seen before, in that the people on the ground don't particularly want the disabled plane to land and try to sabotage it.

Aidan Quinn (BLINK) stars as a "weekend pilot" taking a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. After the U.S. Navy fires a test missile that accidentally smashes into the passenger jet, ripping a hole in one side of the fuselage and exiting through another on the other side, most of the passengers and crew are either sucked out 65,000 feet above the Earth or in an oxygen-deprivation coma. Only a handful of able-bodied passengers remain, including Quinn and stewardess Kelly Hu (X-MEN 2).

The radio is out, so Quinn can only communicate with the authorities in San Fran via a datalink that involves text messaging. Unfortunately, an icy insurance executive (Gail O'Grady of AMERICAN DREAMS) convinces an oily airline executive (Sasha Roiz) that it would be better off for their companies--and certainly cheaper--if the airplane were to crash, so they IM false instructions to Quinn.

Meanwhile, the dumbass Naval commander (Dean Cain, the 21st-century Dack Rambo) that fired the missile also wants to cover up his mishap, so he orders his fighter pilots to blow the jet out of the sky. His superior officer (Charles S. "Roc" Dutton, currently starring in CBS' THRESHOLD) seems opposed to it, but he doesn't exactly exert himself to stop Cain.

All the cliches are here, and it says something about the cast that they almost make you believe what's going on, even though director Scott provides zero suspense and the story is ludicrous (I mean, really, how did the airline think it was going to cover up its instructions to Quinn to turn off his engines?). The crummy CGI effects would have been laughable in a LAND OF THE LOST episode thirty years ago and make one long for a return to three-dimensional miniature effects.

CBS is back at it next week with THE HUNT FOR THE BTK KILLER, a "ripped from the headlines" docudrama in the mode of THE ATLANTA CHILD MURDERS with Martin Sheen and THE CASE OF THE HILLSIDE STRANGLERS with Richard Crenna. Few famous serial killers haven't been the focus of a made-for-television movie. With Gregg Henry (BODY DOUBLE) playing the notorious Kansas killer "BTK" and Robert Forster (JACKIE BROWN) as a detective, this film should at least offer some solid acting chops, even though the true-life story doesn't seem to offer much in the way of TV-style dramatics. After all, the cops more or less accidentally caught the guy when he was dumb enough to leave evidence on a computer he was using at his church.

Posted by Marty at 10:48 PM CDT
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older