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Lifetime Movie Network, One Man's Confession


January 2, 2005

If you're a regular reader, it probably comes as no shock that our television is equipped with hundreds of channels. The great majority of these channels, however, go to waste, as we tend to flip between real life forensics shows and whatever happens to be playing on Cold Case Files Comedy Central (unless of course that whiskey soaked baboon Colin Quinn happens to be gracing the airwaves). One night Lisa and I discovered that, not only was Colin Quinn occupying Comedy Central with his unique brand of stuttering idiocy, but the only forensics show in sight was a rerun of Cold Case Files that we'd both seen four or five times already. What to do?

Immediately my thoughts turned to playing Fable for another three hours before bed, but Lisa wouldn't hear of it. With one TV sharing the satellite and the Xbox, that was a battle I knew I couldn't win. She delicately countered my video game proposal by grabbing the remote out of my hand and, without a word, changing the channel to The Lifetime Movie Network (LMN).

I'm not the type of guy who pretends to be too manly for the odd chick flick; anyone who's met me knows that I make no pretense about my love for all things low on both brow and Hell Comes to Frogtown budget. I recently purchased Hell Comes to Frogtown simply because it starred Rowdy Roddy Piper and Sandahl Bergman (the blonde woman from Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja. Yes, it was bad). It's when you begin combining the two that things get dodgy. I liken it to sauerkraut and butterscotch -- both tasty in their own way, but you certainly wouldn't want to endure them in the same dish. It is my opinion that LMN combines these flavors with a dash of sea salt and microwaves them in cheap Tupperware (the kind that melts into the food itself). Not really my thing, thanks.

Lisa knows as much, and quickly stashed the remote out of reach. Sure, I could have wrestled her for it (and lost) or argued against her blatant disregard for taste (and lost) or gotten up off the couch and turned the channel myself...but I didn't. As anyone in a long term relationship can tell you, sometimes you've just got to take one for the team. Having been taught long ago to always try to make the best of a bad situation, I recognized this as a ripe opportunity for a story and grabbed my laptop. At least if I was furiously taking notes about the movie, I couldn't furiously say something to Lisa about her furiously bad taste in television that evening.

Resigned to my emasculating fate, I squealed gleefully as a movie called Road Rage was Lifetime Movie Network just starting. We wouldn't have to miss one female empowering minute! Joy. It was about a disgruntled and troubled beverage delivery man that stalks a woman for cutting him off in traffic, ultimately kidnapping her stepdaughter. Whatever. As you might expect, the police are of no help Road Rage and the woman's husband gets knocked cold by the bad man during the final confrontation, leaving her alone to save his offspring. As you might also expect, she is determined, finds the strength and, yes, saves her stepdaughter. The action was broken into neat 20 minute segments, separated by pharmaceutical, Ab Lounger and Swiffer commercials. Appropriately, the most often played ad starred Janine Turner (remember Northern Exposure?) peddling meds for women who can't produce enough tears naturally. The product was not recommended for women with herpes of the eye. Sorry, ladies. I'll try not to bore you with too many more details about the movie itself; I think you'll soon agree that the cast is far more fun to talk about than the plot. Let the Road Rage begin.

Eddie

Jere Burns Eddie is the aforementioned disgruntled and troubled beverage delivery driver. Poor Eddie recently lost his wife and daughter to a car accident caused by over aggressive driving (uh oh, foreshadowing). He's since battled anger problems which, naturally, culminate in stalking, kidnapping, murder and his eventual downfall.

Eddie is played by TV veteran Jere Burns. You probably remember him best as the womanizing, narcissistic Kirk from Dear John. If not, you probably don't remember him at all. Jere got his start performing Shakespeare after college, which landed him his first big break in 1984 in the ABC after school special, Mom's on Strike (not to be confused with the vastly inferior Moms on Strike, released in 2002), co-starring with a then unknown Yeardley Smith. Mom's on Strike proved to be a fertile launching pad to silver screen success; Ms. Smith was propelled to fame and fortune after joining the FOX stable on Herman's Head and The Simpsons. Meanwhile, Jere rode his star into a recurring role on Max Headroom and a part in The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw. It is rumored that on-set passions for fried chicken led to friction between Jere and costars Kenny Rogers and Reba McEntire.

Dear John

Jere followed the success of The Gambler with roles in My Giant (starring a washed up Billy Crystal and a gumpy Gheroghe Muresan) and, finally in our cine du jour, Road Rage. In short, this poor man's career peaked in a Judd Hirsch sitcom. Need more proof? The only notable role he's landed since Road Rage was as a sleazy film producer in 2001's Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. From Shakespeare to co-starring with a big knife in a film written by Paul Hogan...you do the math.

Cynthia

Cynthia is a typical teenage daughter and eventual kidnapping victim (every LMN movie has one). She swims for her high school team, wants to get her driver's license and is nauseated by her dad and Six Million Dollar Man stepmother's frequent displays of affection.

Cynthia is played by Alana Austin. I don't really have much to add here except that she appears to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 years old, which would be fine were she not playing a fifteen year-old. Casting agents of the world take note: high school girls should not look like their mother's time ravaged, alcoholic divorcee friends.

It is also worth mentioning that Ms. Austin's dad is named Steve Austin. That's six million dollars worth of stone cold awesome.

Nina

Nina plays the time ravaged, alcoholic divorcee friend. Her desperation for male companionship leads to her being lied to, sexed up by and ultimately murdered by Eddie. That's what we in the business call a Lifetime Hat Trick.

Psycho Beach Party Nina is played with enthusiastic wretchedness by Jenica Bergere. Jenica has spent most of her career in recurring sitcom roles on shows such as Seinfeld, The Drew Carey Show, Caroline in the City, Ally McBeal and Becker. I wonder if she ever got to rub Ted Danson's bald spot. I sure hope so -- that would be neat.

Ms. Bergere also played "Cookie" in Psycho Beach Party, an absolutely amazing movie. I strongly recommend skipping right past Caroline in the City and into this instant camp classic if you're eager to get your Jenica Bergere fix. I would then recommend that you move out of your mother's basement and tell the cops about the dead hooker parts in your freezer, because something is seriously wrong with you.

Jim

The Flash Jim is the strappingly handsome, loving and hard working husband and father. I'm not going to waste too much time here since, as he doesn't cheat, lie, steal, rape or seek unhealthy control. Jim obviously doesn't have much to do in a LMN movie.

John Wesley Shipp turns in a workmanlike (read: boring) performance as Jim. His past work includes The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter, Dawson's Creek and a bunch of soaps. He also portrayed superhero The Flash in three movies and a television series and had a guest spot on Fantasy Island. I'd go into how much I loved The Flash series and how I'd give a pinky to costar with Ricardo Montalban in just about anything, but this is a story about the LMN experience, so I'll just move on.

Ellen

Yasmine Bleethe Ellen is a successful real estate agent, faithful wife and devoted stepmother whose life is turned upside down when she carelessly cuts Eddie off in traffic. She descends into a hellish nightmare as Eddie turns her coworkers, friends and family against her before finally kidnapping her stepdaughter!

Ellen is played with curvaceous vacuousness by Yasmine Bleethe. Yasmine, of course, is best known for her portrayal of Jenna Reed in BASEketball. Sure, some would point to her nipplelicious tenure on Baywatch, but I refuse to acknowledge that David Hasselhoff continued to exist after Knight Rider. I loved that show. In fact, one of my very first crushes was Patricia McPherson as Dr. Bonnie Barstow, K.I.T.T.'s mechanic. Yes, I know she wasn't a very attractive woman; I was nine and my experience with crushes prior to that consisted of Trini from 3-2-1 Contact. What do you want from me?

If you will indulge me in a momentary tangent, I'm sure you all recall (ahem) that Ms. McPherson was replaced during the second season with Rebecca Holden as the amber-haired April Curtis, only to return for the third and fourth seasons. Bonnie's return to The Foundation for Law and Government pleased me to no end -- every Knight Rider fan worth his salt knew that April wasn't half the mechanic Bonnie was. K.I.T.T. deserved better than April was capable of giving, pure and simple.

Knight Rider

I remember reading an article some time ago about Ms. McPherson's frustration with the skeletal scripts during Knight Rider's inaugural season, perhaps leading to her temporary departure. To that, I can say only one thing: You star in a David Hasselhoff vehicle about a talking car and have the nerve to complain about skeletal Yasmine Bleethe and Richard Greico scripts? Isn't that like working as a McDonald's fry cook and complaining about having to look at fat people all day? At least she learned her lesson and never complained about the poor writing on Matlock: The Witness Killings or Men in Black, her only notable sightings since parking the F.L.A.G. semi and K.I.T.T. for the final time.

But back to dear Yasmine...

Yazmania, as she is known to her closest friends (God, I wish I'd made that up), left an impressive trail of ex-boyfriends behind her prior to settling down with husband Paul Cerrito. Notables include Luke Perry, Matthew Perry, Grant Show and Richard Greico; this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that dating Yasmine Bleethe tantamount to career suicide. Sorry boys -- now that both your careers and your Yazmania have stalled, maybe you could try giving Patricia McPherson a call. I'm sure she's available.

A Lifetime, Altered

This story stalled on my desktop for more than a month before I was able to finish it. Since that fateful night, I've been transformed into a reluctant LMN fan and I've debated whether or not to publish this at all as a result. I've been torn between the sarcasm in the paragraphs above, written by a man forced the watch these terrible, For the love of God, pull the damned plug terrible movies, and the shame I felt in admitting the truth: that I am now a man that loves these terrible, terrible movies.

At first it was all about spotting the has-beens and C-listers. "Oh man! It's Manny from Scarface!" or "Boy howdy, Melissa Gilbert sure looks old!" Since, however, it's become a staple along with Comedy Central and Cold Case Files on our television. I can't really explain it, but it doesn't get much better than playing World of Warcraft while watching Laura Leighton affect a bad Texan accent and get murdered by her husband. Usually this is coupled by Lisa, being the dutiful and prolific SweatpantsErection.com content provider that she is, writing a story on the laptop while we both try to predict who lives, dies, cheats or is kidnapped. Great fun...I'm so ashamed.

Just last night we watched Natassja Kinski and Jennifer Tilly play Sicilian mafia wives in a mish mashed retelling of Oedipus and Romeo and Juliet. If that wasn't enough, after Lisa fell asleep, I followed it up by watching 1989's I Know My First Name Is Steven until almost 5am. Whether this means that domestic bliss has finally drained every last bit of testosterone from my pathetic husk, or that LMN doesn't get its due as the bastion of camp culture and comedy that it is, remains to be seen. Either way, I've got to wrap this up. Sweet Deception is just starting and Joan Collins, Karen Allen and Kate Jackson all promise to make appearances. Please shoot me now.

Five-Oh! Five-Oh!

-dsf
 
Copyright 2017 Daniel S. Fettinger and Lisa Warner, all rights reserved.