Retro Television Review: One World 3.1 “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and 3.2 “Push Comes To Shove”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

It’s time for the third and final season of One World!

Episode 3.1 “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on September 23rd, 2000)

At the end of season 2 of One World, Neal and Jane were both facing an uncertain future.  Having been caught cheating on the SAT, they had been banned from retaking the test and they were both going to have to figure out a way to get into a good college with no SAT score.  It was a pretty dark situation.  Neal even said that it was now going to take him a little bit longer to achieve his dreams.  I was curious to see how the show would handle this situation in season 3.

The first episode of season 3 handled the developments of season 2 in much the same way that most TNBC shows handled any sort of unexpected drama.  They ignored it.  Over the course of the first episode of season 3, no mention was made of the SAT or college.  Neal is apparently still in high school (though he was a senior last season) and he’s got the highest GPA of anyone in his class.  Once again, his future is bright!  Jane, meanwhile, is no longer talking about college but she does now have a really awful spiky hairstyle.  Seriously, I want slap whoever it was who decided to dye her hair that color of yellow.  It totally washes out all of her features.

As for Ben, Cray, Sui, and Marci …. well, they’re pretty much the same.  Marci is still materialistic.  Cray is still dorky.  Ben is still dumb,  And Sui is still way too cool for this show.

The first episode featured a guest turn from James Avery, playing Mr. Richard, the father of Neal’s girlfriend, Kate.  (Yes, there is a joke about how he “looks like the guy from Fresh Prince.”)  Mr, Richard is a successful and wealthy attorney and a Harvard graduate.  When Neal mentions that he used to be in a gang, Mr. Richard forbids Kate (Tasha Taylor) from dating Neal.  Neal confronts Mr. Richard and accuses him of being prejudiced.  (“Ohhhhhh!” the audience says.)  Mr. Richard tells Neal to watch his mouth.  (“Ahhhhh!” the audience responds.)

Later, Kate sneaks into the Blake home and tells Neal that she’s willing to defy her father but Neal says that he won’t go against her father’s wishes because he still has the same integrity that caused him to get banned from taking the SAT.  (No, Neal doesn’t bring up the SAT.  That’s just me wondering what happened to that whole storyline.)  Mr. Richard is moved by Neal’s integrity and decides that he’s okay with his daughter dating a former gang member who was will basically never be able to get into a good college.

On the one hand, Neal has a point about giving people a second chance and judging people by their actions and not their past.  On the other hand, Mr. Richard is played by James Avery, who was a far better actor than the material deserved.  The character is written to just be a snob but Avery instead turns him into a father who sincerely cares about his daughter.  So, despite the show’s intentions, Mr. Richard actually comes across as being more sympathetic than either his flighty daughter or the somewhat self-righteous Neal.

Meanwhile, Marci buys a bunch of clothes online but discovers that they were stolen.  The most interesting thing about this storyline is that everyone is shocked to discover that you can buy things online.  I guess that’s 2000 for you!

Episode 3.2 “Push Comes to Shove”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on September 30, 2000)

Cray has a bully!  Earl (Joshua Boyd) goes from demanding the Cray bring him a sandwich to demanding that Cray bring him money.  Jane counsels Cray to beat Earl up.  (Has she not seen Cray?  Cray’s not beating anyone up.)  St. Neal suggests that Cray should turn the other cheek and remember that violence solves nothing.  Neal, however, turns out to be a huge hypocrite because, when he talks to Earl, he ends up getting into a fight with him.  Neal beats up Earl (off-screen, of course) but he then has an ethical crisis over having violated his principles.  Good Lord, Neal’s annoying.

Meanwhile, Jane is dating Bradley Covington, the scion of the richest family in town.  Bradley asks out Jane despite her terrible hair and the fact that the supercool Sui was in the same room.  Bradley takes Jane to a country club and we get a badly acted scene in which Jane stands up to Bradley’s snooty cousin.  That whole subplot didn’t really go anywhere.

Well, that’s not a great start to season 3.  Hopefully, next week will be a bit better!

Cleaning out the DVR: Dirty Little Secret (dir by Linda-Lisa Hayter)


On the outside, Joanna (Melissa John Hart) and her 17 year-old daughter, Lucy (Lizzie Boys), seem like they have a good life.

Joanna is a nurse who is beloved by both her patients and her co-workers.  She works hard and she often worries about money but she is also responsible for saving lives.  One of her former patients, Drew (Edward Foy), has even fallen in love with her and is pursuing a relationship with her.  Drew is nice, considerate, and a financially stable.  He seems like he would be anyone’s dream but Joanna is hesitant about getting close to him or anyone else.

Lucy is a smart student and a talented artist and her guidance counselor thinks that she should apply to F.I.T. in New York City.  When Lucy says that she’s not sure that she could afford it, she is assured that she could probably get a scholarship or a grant.  Lucy has a close friend named Kaylie (Pavia Sidhu) and a potential boyfriend named Josh (Wern Lee) and she should be looking forward to a great future.  Instead, she’s spending all of her time making up excuses to keep people from coming by her house.

Joanna and Lucy share a secret.  Joanna is a compulsive hoarder.  Her house is so cluttered that she can’t find a thing.  While Joanna watches home improvement shows and talks about all of her plans for the future, Lucy struggles to find room to sleep.  Lucy is forced to take showers at school because Joanna couldn’t find the water bill.  When Lucy tries to secretly throw away some bubble wrap, Joanna catches her and yells, “What about if I want to send gifts!?”  The clutter is so terrible that Joanna is constantly struggling with her asthma.

It easy to cast Joanna as the villain here but, as the film makes clear, both she and Lucy have been abandoned by the rest of their family.  Joanna’s husband walked out years ago.  Lucy’s older sister, Sara (Samantha Hodhod), refuses to come by the house or even talk to Joanna but, at the same time, she expects Lucy to put all of her plans on hold so that she can take care of their mother.  Everyone has given up on Joanna but Lucy is convinced that she can somehow fix things.  It ultimately leads to tragedy and leaves the audience wondering if anyone in the family ever really had a chance.

This is one dark Lifetime movie.

I have to admit that, though I’m compulsively clean and organized, I always have a bit of sympathy for hoarders.  When you grow up in an unstable household, it’s easy to put a lot of importance in the things that you own because those are the thing that aren’t going to abandon you.  Even the simplest or most mundane items can come to represent either a good memory or hope for a better future.  I’ve seen a few episodes of Hoarders and I always despise the family members who yell at the hoarder for not throwing stuff out.  What the people yelling don’t understand is that those possessions are often the only source of comfort and stability that a hoarder has.  Throwing stuff away means throwing away memories and hope.  (The other reason why I don’t like it when people yell on Hoarders is because they’re usually only yelling to show off for the cameras.  People will ignore a problem for years and then try to play the hero as soon as a television crew shows up.)   Myself, I have a sentimental attachment to just about everything I own.  Fortunately, I also have a storage unit.  

Melissa Joan Hart does a good job playing Joanna, who alternates between pretending that everything is normal and flying into a rage whenever she can’t find something in the house.  Lizzie Boys is also effective as Lucy, who has been unfairly burdened with not only protecting the family’s secrets but also with taking care of her mother.  At the end of the movie, it’s obvious that both characters deserved to be treated better than they were.  Both characters sacrifice their chances for happiness in order to keep the family secrets.  It makes for an effective and sad Lifetime film, one that will hopefully inspire a little compassion for not only the hoarders but also the people who try to take care of them.

The New York Film Critics Circle Honors TAR, Cate Blanchett, Colin Farrell, Ke Huy Quan, Keke Palmer, and S.S. Rajamouli!


And awards season is here!

Today, the New York Film Critics Circle announced their picks for the best of 2022!  The NYFCC is one of the many critics groups that will be announcing their picks over the upcoming weeks.  The NYFCC is considered to be one of the better precursors out there so a win is definitely a big deal.  (Last year, for instance, the NYFCC started the movement that eventually led to Drive My Car picking up a Best Picture nomination.)

Here are the NYFCC winners for 2022:

Best Picture: TAR

Best Director: S. S. Rajamouli, RRR
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, TAR
Best Actor: Colin Farrell, After Yang and The Banshees of Inisherin
Best Screenplay: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Best International Film: EO
Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Top Gun: Maverick
Best Supporting Actress: Keke Palmer, Nope
Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Non-Fiction Film: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Best Animated Feature: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Best First Film: Aftersun

SPECIAL AWARD 1: Jake Perlin, curator, distributor, publisher, in recognition of his indispensable contributions to film culture.

SPECIAL AWARD 2: dGenerate Films, For their invaluable work bringing independent films from China to a wider audience

SPECIAL AWARD 3: Jafar Panahi, for his dogged bravery as an artist, and for the humanity and beauty of a body of work created under the most oppressive circumstances.

 

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #224: Ice Road Killer (dir by Max McGuire)


Last night, I watched Ice Road Killer on the Lifetime Movie Network!

Why Was I Watching It?

It had been a while since I had last watched a Lifetime movie and, with this year soon to come to a close, I figured that last night would be a good time to start catching up.

What Was It About?

While on her way to pick up her daughter from college, Helen (Sarah Allen) nearly runs over a young woman named Carly (Zoe Belkin).  Carly claims that she’s stranded.  Because the roads are icy and a heavy snow is falling, Helen agrees to give Carly a ride to wherever Carly is going.  Needless to say, Helen’s daughter, Lauren (Erica Anderson), is not amused.

Of course, what Helen doesn’t realize is that Carly and her boyfriend, Boyd (Connor McMahon), are planning on robbing her.  But what Carly and Boyd don’t realize is that they are being followed by a psycho trucker (Michael Swatton), who is looking for revenge.  

What Worked?

For a Lifetime film, Ice Road Killer had some effectively scary moments and some creepy locations.  (The motel where Helen, Lauren, and Carly initially attempted to spend the night was memorably run-down and it brought back some memories of my own childhood road trips.)  The ice, the snow, and the howling wind all added up to create an otherworldly atmosphere and Christopher Guglick’s original score was appropriately ominous.  

Michael Swatton was wonderfully creepy as the psycho trucker.

What Did Not Work?

A huge issue that I had was that Carly and Boyd’s robbery scheme never made sense to me.  Instead of just robbing Helen when she first stopped to pick up Carly, Boyd instead followed behind Helen and Carly while they drove down the icy road.  If you’re going to rob a random driver, it seems like it would make more sense to just do it and make a run for it instead of dragging it all out.

Another issue that I had was with the idea that anyone, in the year 2022, would actually pick up a hitchhiker, especially someone like Helen who had reason to not trust people in general.  I get that the weather was bad but still, it seems like a stretch that Helen would give Carly a ride, arrange for Carly to spend the night in a motel with Helen and her daughter, and then leave Carly — a total stranger — alone with the $500 that Helen could not afford to lose. 

You always have to be willing to suspend your disbelief when it comes to Lifetime films, that’s usually a part of the fun.  This film just asked you to suspend it even more than usual.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I am a fairly compassionate person and I do believe in helping those in need but there’s no way in Hell that I would ever pick up a hitchhiker, regardless of how bad the weather conditions are.  If I see a person stranded on the side of the road, I might feel bad for them but I’m still not going to let them get in my car.  I might encourage someone driving behind me to pick them up but I’ve seen too many horror films to make that mistake myself.  So, I couldn’t relate to that part of the film.

However, I also don’t drive well in cold weather.  When Helen ran her car off the icy road and nearly ran over Carly, I could totally relate to that.

Lessons Learned

Don’t pick up hitchhikers and by nice to truck drivers!

Live Tweet Alert: Join #FridayNightFlix for Scrooged!


 

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, at 10 pm et, I will be hosting #FridayNightFlix!  The movie? 1988’s Scrooged!

Get in the Christmas spirit with Bill Murray, Carol Kane, and Robert Mitchum!

If you want to join us this Friday, just hop onto twitter, start the movie at 10 pm et, and use the #FridayNightFlix hashtag!  I’ll be there tweeting and I imagine some other members of the TSL Crew will be there as well.  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.

Scrooged is available on Prime, Paramount, and Pluto!  See you there!