May Positivity: Never Ashamed (dir by Edward T. McDougal)

The 1984 film, Never Ashamed, gets off to a lawles start with two teenagers, Tim Hughes (Tim Elwell) and Marty Sullivan (Jon Jacovic) stealing an ice cream truck.  Even though the ice cream man yells at them that he owns the truck and that he needs it for his job, Tim and Marty take off with it.  They speed down the street.  They play the ice crea, music.  They toss out the ice cream.  And, eventually, they get stopped by the police.

Tim’s father, a liberal talk show host named Sid Hughes (Stan Adams), thinks that Tim is just being a normal, out-of-control teenager.  Tim’s mother (Denyse Leahy) is far more concerned and she suggests that perhaps Tim should attend a special summer camp for juvenile delinquents.  Sid is not happy to hear that it’s a Christian summer camp.  (At one point, we see Sid getting upset when Ronald Reagan gives a speech about prayer in school so we know how Sid feels about religion.)  However, Sid finally gives in.

This is followed by a montage of Tim doing summer camp stuff.  For me, not being a camp-type of person, the montage was horrifying.  I cringed at all of the canoeing, the playing, the laughing, the singing, and all the rest.  It was a montage of happiness but all of the smiles seemed a bit too wide and calculated.  To be honest, it reminded me of the type of activities that were used to brainwash Nick Mancuso in Ticket to Heaven and Michael O’Keefe in Split Image. 

Still, Tim has a great time and, when his parents pick him up from camp, Tim announces that he’s now a Christian.  Sid is horrified and starts talking about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple.  Tim’s old friends are astonished, especially Marty.  Marty is not happy when Tim starts hanging out with a new crowd at school.

Here’s the thing.  We’re supposed to like Tim’s new friends but, honestly, Marty does kind of have a point.  Tim’s new friends are so bright and cheery and perfect and well-behaved that they really do come across as being a little creepy.  And when Marty says that he wants to be able to spend some time with his oldest friend without having a bunch of strangers following them around, Marty again has a point.  At times, it seems as if Tim’s new friends really do expect him to spend every waking moment with them.  If Tim’s not going to their study group, then he’s going to the “Christian car wash.”  When Marty says, at one point, that he really needs to talk to Tim about some problems that he’s having in his life, Tim’s response to tell him to come to church with Tim and his new friends.  Marty gets upset about that and again, it’s hard not to feel that he has a point.  Marty needs someone to talk to and it wouldn’t kill Tim to have a sincere, one-on-one conversation with Marty.  If Tim wants to invite Marty to church after that conversation, there’s nothing wrong with that.  But, at that moment, it was obvious that Marty needed to feel that he was more to Tim than just another invitee.

Marty feels that he has a lot to be upset about.  He runs for junior class president on a platform of parties and drugs but he loses to the nerdy and boring Wayne, who is one of Tim’s new friends.  Marty doesn’t feel close to his family.  His grades are slipping.  His best friend is pretty much ignoring him.  Marty is supposedly a drug dealer who regularly goes down to Mexico to pick up cocaine.  While Marty is definitely a bit cocky and irresponsible, there’s absolutely nothing about him that suggests he’s the type to sneak across the borders with bricks of cocaine in a duffel bag and I was shocked when I discovered that the movie was actually being serious about that.  In a surprisingly well-directed sequence, Marty has his friends toss firecrackers at the Christian car wash while he sneaks into the church and steals some money.

Never Ashamed is only 64 minutes long.  It’s obviously one of those films that was made specifically to be viewed by church youth groups.  It’s definitely a product of its time and, in the end, it is perhaps most interesting as a time capsule.  I imagine that watching this film is the equivalent of stepping into a time machine and setting the destination for 1984.  (“You look like Scott Baio!” one of Tim’s new friends excitedly tells him.)  It’s a sincere film but, at the same time, it’s also a film that is very much about preaching to the choir.  As happy as Tim and his new friends are, I think most people would feel that Marty seems like he would be more fun to hang out with.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 4/30/23 — 5/6/23

Accused (Tuesday Night, Fox)

As frustratingly uneven as Accused can be, this week’s episode was enjoyably melodramatic and over the top.  A teenage girl’s attempt to find her real father led to her discovering that he not only lived right next door but that she was also on the verge of dating her half-brother!  In this case, the big crime was breaking into a sperm bank.  In many ways, it was a silly episode but it was also undeniably enjoyable.  Accused should do more weird episodes like this and give the politics a rest.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

Wow, what an unsettling episode this week!  Cristobal is dead.  NoHo Hank is back in the Chechen mob.  Gene shot and probably killed his son.  And, according to the time jump towards the end of the episode, Barry and Sally ended up living on a farm with a son named John.  And, in the world of Barry, Sian Heder is following up CODA with the worst comic book movie since The Eternals.  I’m looking forward to seeing where all of this goes but I have a feeling the show is building up to the most traumatic conclusion of all time.  We’ll see if I’m right!

Beavis and Butt-Head (Paramount Plus)

Beavis and Butt-Head fell in the sewer and thought they were in Hell.  Then, after that, Beavis ended up in the hospital and nearly died due to Butt-Head continually punching him in the testicles.  Guys are weird.

The Coronation of Charles III (Saturday Morning, Everywhere)

Supposedly, the British are indifferent to Charles III’s official coronation but it certainly has been a big deal here in the States.  Honestly, maybe the entire Royal Family should just move over here and take over again.  They would be greeted as liberators!

Forgive or Forget (YouTube)

It was raining on Wednesday afternoon so Jeff and I watched some old 90s talk shows on YouTube.  In an episode of Forgive or Forget, delinquent daughters were giving their mothers trouble.  The show’s host, Mother Love, yelled at everyone and forced them to go backstage and think about all of their sins before then choosing whether or not to come through the door of forgiveness.  Towards the end of the show, the format changed a little as a former out-of-control teen asked her mother to forgive her, just to have her mother refuse to come through the door.  What a terrible mother.  Seriously, this was a weird show.

Geraldo (YouTube)

It was raining on Wednesday afternoon so Jeff and I watched some old 90s talk shows on YouTube.  We watched a 1996 episode of Geraldo, featuring a young-looking but still overdramatic Geraldo Rivera talking to girls who were in gangs.  The highlight of the epiosde was when the current gang girls were confronted by former gang girls who accuse them all of being bad mothers.  “My babies are more important than my homies!” one former gang girl announced while the audience went crazy.

Half Nelson (YouTube)

I wrote about the finale of Half Nelson here!

Jenny Jones (YouTube)

It was raining on Wednesday afternoon so Jeff and I watched some old 90s talk shows on YouTube.  On the Jenny Jones show, the permanently flustered host talked to mothers and daughters who teamed up to “play more than one guy.”  The mothers and the daughters would come out on stage.  The audience would boo.  “Be an appreciator, not a hater!” one mother yelled back.  Nothing was really resolved by the end of this episode.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what the point of it all was.

The second episode that we watched feature couples taking lie detector tests to determine whether or not they were cheating.  The audience booed a lot.  No cheating allowed!  “WHY YOU STAYING WITH THAT MAN!?” some guy in the audience yelled.  Jenny Jones looked really nervous.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

This week, Cosgrove’s daughter became an important witness in Price’s case against the accused murderer.  To me, it seems that, as soon as it became apparent that his daughter could be a part of the case, Cosgrove should have been taken off the investigation but Law & Order takes place in a world where “conflict of interest” is no big deal.

The Love Boat (Paramount Plus)

I wrote about this week’s episode of The Love Boat here!

Night Court (Tuesday Night, NBC)

Dan’s been appointed to a judgeship in Louisiana and is planning on leaving New York City without telling anyone.  Dan is not the sentimental type.  However, Abbi and Rand insist on throwing him a going away party.  As usual, this show works best when it focus on John Larroquette and Melissa Rauch.  I spent most of this episode marveling at just how tall Larroquette is.  Especially standing next to Melissa Rauch, Larroquette appeared to be about 9 feet tall.  (Of course, Melissa Rauch is only like 4’11 herself.)  Anyway, Dan was about to leave for Louisiana when he got a call that Abbi was in jail and needed him to defend her.  This led to the dreaded “To Be Continued” card.

Night Flight (Night Flight Plus)

This week, I watched a compilation of three episodes from 1991.  I learned about European Rock and guitar gods!

Radio 1990 (Night Flight Plus)

This was apparently an entertainment-related news show that aired on PBS in the 80s (despite the name).  I watched an episode from 1983 on Saturday morning.  My favorite part was “Radio 1990 on the movies.”  The week the show aired, the number one movie was Sudden Impact and Scarface had just been released.

Sally Jessy Raphael (YouTube)

It was raining on Wednesday afternoon so Jeff and I watched some old 90s talk shows on YouTube.  The episode that we watched of this show dealt with out-of-control teens.  The teens were angry and bratty but then they all got sent to boot camp.  Most studies have confirmed that the whole boot camp thing was usually counter-productive but audiences just loved to watch wannaba drill sergeants scream at a bunch of bratty kids.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about this week’s episode of Survivor here!

The TSL Grindhouse: Black Shampoo (dir by Greydon Clark)

The 1976 film, Black Shampoo, tells the story of Mr, Jonathan (played by an expressionless actor named John Daniels).  Mr. Jonathan is the hottest hairstylist on the Sunset Strip.  Rich women flock to his salon so that Mr. Jonathan can do their hair and, as the first scene in the film makes clear, do a lot more as well.  Black Shampoo begins with a wash and rinse that soon leads to Mr. Jonathan’s client saying, “It is bigger and better!” while the singers on the film’s funk-heavy soundtrack tell us that, “He’s a real man.”

Mr. Jonathan is so popular that the women who come into his salon are visibly upset if they’re told that their hair will be done by Mr. Jonathan’s two associates, Artie and Richard.  “Artie doesn’t have the right equipment!” one woman exclaims while another complains, “My hair’s a mess …. I haven’t had my hair done in over a month.”  Fortunately, helping to keep the place running is Mr. Jonathan’s new administrative assistant, Brenda St. John (Tanya Boyd).  In fact, Mr. Jonathan could even see himself settling down with Brenda.

Unfortunately, Brenda is the ex-girlfriend of a white gangster named Mr. Wilson (Joe Ortiz).  And Mr. Wilson is determined to get Brenda back, even if it means sending two of his thugs down to Mr. Jonathan’s and messing the place up.  It’s easy for them to vandalize the salon and to harass Artie and Richard because Mr. Jonathan hardly ever seems to be there.  He’s always either visiting a client at home or taking part in a falling in love montage with Brenda.  When Brenda is kidnapped, Mr. Jonathan falls into a deep depression.  Eventually, though, Mr. Jonathan realizes that he has to rescue Brenda and retrieve the black book that proves that Mr. Wilson is a crime lord.  Fortunately, Mr. Jonathan is as handy with a chainsaw as he is with a hair blower.

Ugh.  This film …. I mean, to be honest, the movie seems like it’s going to be fun when it starts.  Yes, the acting is terrible and the dialogue is risible but it’s such a 70s film that I assumed it would be kind of fun.  And there are some enjoyably silly moments, like the whole falling in love montage.  But, as the film progresses, the violence and the film’s overall tone just gets uglier and uglier.  That, in itself, is not a problem.  In fact, you could argue that violence should be ugly because it’s violence.  But, in the case of Black Shampoo, too much of that ugly violence is played for titillation.  When Mr. Wilson threatens to sodomize a character with a curling iron, the film seems to take a certain delight in Mr. Wilson’s sadism.  The film is certainly not on the side of the poor guy who is being threatened.  Instead, it feels like the film is saying, “Do you think will show this happen or do you think will cut to another scene?  Keep watching to find out!”  It’s gross.

It would help if Mr. Jonathan were himself an engaging character but John Daniels’s performance in painfully dull.  He has a definite physical presence, though he definitely looks a lot better on the film’s poster than he does in the actual movie.  But, when he has to deliver dialogue or show emotion, he’s so awkward that it’s like staring at a brick wall and waiting for it to do something.  As a character, Mr. Jonathan should be someone who moves with a certain confidence and swagger.  John Daniels usually seems like he’s more busy trying not to look straight at the camera.

On the plus side, everyone’s hair looks beautiful.

Future Force (1989, directed by David Prior)

The time is the future, which looks a lot like 1990s Los Angeles.  Because of out of control crime, the police have been deemed useless and have been defunded.  (Like that could ever happen in real life!)  Seeing a need and a decent profit margin, private enterprise has stepped up.  The law is enforced by C.O.P.S., which stands for Civilian Operated Police Systems.  Not held back by the Constitution or any oversight at all, C.O.P.S. has become just as corrupt and dangerous as the criminals that it battles.  When a reporter named Marion (Anna Rapagna) threatens to do a story about the out of control C.O.P.S., the head of the company hacks the justice system and puts out a warrant for Marion on the charge of treason.  Because of the seriousness of the charge, the bounty hunters of C.O.P.S. don’t have to bring her in alive to get paid.  In fact, they are encouraged to bring her in dead.

Tucker (David Carradine) is weary and disillusioned member of C.O.P.S. but he is still enough of an idealist that he wants to arrest Marion without killing her.  When he discovers that Marion is being set up, Tucker goes out of his way to protect her from the evil Becker (Robert Tessier) and all the other C.O.P.S.  It turns out to be pretty easy because Tucker is apparently the only members of C.O.P.S. who isn’t terrible at his job.   Helping Tucker out is a wheelchair-bound hacker named Billy (D.C. Douglas) and a robotic glove that can shoot laser beams.

A Robocop rip-off that lacks that film’s satiric bite, Future Force takes place in a future where everyone drives cars from the 70s and where every bar is a strip club that looks like it could have been used in the type of movies that used to show up on late night Cinemax.  It’s a future of empty warehouses, deserted streets, and fires in trash cans.  Robot glove aside, the movie’s future is unconvincing even by the standards of 1989.  There’s a lot of car chases and strange gunfights where no one seems to be aiming at each other but there’s also many scenes that were added to pad out the movie’s running time.  Marion gets upset when Tucker ruthlessly kills two people who were trying to kill her but she barely shrugs when she later discovers that the bad guys have killed her sister.  As bad the movie is, give some respect, though, to David Carradine whose general air of “I don’t want to be here, just give me my paycheck so I can go home,” fits his character like a glove.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 5.8 “Letters From Woo” and 5.9 “Senior Prom”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

It’s prom time at PCHS!  But first….

Episode 5.8 “Letters From Woo”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on October 25, 1996)

The band is supposed to practice but Sam says it will have to wait because she’s making a “video letter” for her uncle back in Hong Kong.  She and the members of the Dreams discuss all of the wacky adventures that they’ve had and …. oh, it’s a clip show!

I’ll never forget that time I said, “Let’s move on….”

Episode 5.9 “Senior Prom”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 2nd, 1996)

Poor Mark!

Seriously, Mark Winkle was the nicest member of the California Dreams and yet he always seemed to be the one who ended up getting screwed over.  Consider what happens in this episode:

PCHS has prom fever!  Tony & Sam and Jake & Tiffani are running for Prom King and Queen but Mark is more concerned about getting a date with Erica.  He’s had a crush on Erica since forever but he’s too shy to talk to her.  When he finally does work up the courage to ask her, she says yes.  Yay!  But, on the day of the prom, she dumps him and tells him that she’s going to the prom with her ex-boyfriend, Dave.

Unfortunately, his friends can’t be there for him because they’re competing like crazy to be named King and Queen.  Lorena and Sly don’t help matters by making a bet on who is going to win.  Lorena supports Jake and Tiffani because she thinks that they have more class than Sam and Tony.  Sly supports Sam and Tony because he thinks they have more of a populist appeal than Jake and Tiffani.  Mark, poor dateless Mark, is trapped in the middle.

(Myself, I’m just wondering how a biker and a surfer would have less populist appeal than a wealthy exchange student.  For that matter, since when have Jake and Tiffani had any class at all?  One of the reasons why Lorena and Jake broke up was because Jake was way too crude for Lorena’s tastes.)

To make matters even worse, Sly has booked the Dreams to play a prom at a junior high on the same day as the high school prom.  Everyone tells Sly that it’s a terrible idea but then again, everyone could also use the money.  Unfortunately, the gig is a bust because one the amps blows up on stage.  Then, while the Dreams are trying to get back for their own prom, their van breaks down in the middle of nowhere!  As the Dreams try to flag down a ride, word comes over the radio that the PCHS Prom King and Queen are …. ERICA AND HER DATE, DAVE!

The leads to even more fighting until Mark yells at everyone for being selfish and makes them see the errors of their way.  The Dreams, now reunited in love and friendship, have their own prom on the side of the road.  Sly dances with Lorena.  Tony dances with Sam.  Jake dances with Tiff.  And Mark …. well, he gets to play guitar.  Mark may have saved the band but he still has to spend the prom alone.  POOR MARK!

Seriously, there was a lot I liked about this episode.  The cast’s chemistry was on fire.  Everyone looked good in their prom outfits.  But, at the end of the episode, you couldn’t help but feel that Mark really got screwed over.

Next week, Sam is cast on a show called Babewatch!  I wonder what that’s based on….

Live Tweet Alert: Watch Garden of the Dead with #ScarySocial

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, for #ScarySocial, I will be hosting 1972’s Garden of the Dead!  What happens when a bunch of deceased prisoners come back to life?  


If you want to join us on Saturday night, just hop onto twitter, start the film at 9 pm et, and use the #ScarySocial hashtag!  The film is available on Prime.  I’ll be there co-hosting 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.


4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Orson Welles Edition

4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today we celebrate what would have been the 108th birthday of the great Orson Welles!  It’s time for….

4 Shots from 4 Orson Welles Films

Citizen Kane (1941, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Gregg Toland)

The Stranger (1946, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Russell Metty)

Touch of Evil (1958, dir by Orson Welles. DP: Russell Metty)

The Trial (1962, dir by Orson Welles, DP: Edmond Richard)


Music Video of the Day: Overture/Pinball Wizard by The Who (1969, dir by ????)

I saw this on an old episode of Night Flight on Friday night and, I don’t know.  It just felt appropriate for today’s music video of the day.  In some ways, this video feels even stranger and more ominous than the one that Ken Russell came up with when he directed the film adaptation of Tommy.

Personally, my hope is that the next CSI show, should there ever be another one, will use Pinball Wizard as their theme song.   Just imagine Nathan Fillion saying something quippy, putting on his sunglasses and …. “SURE PLAYS A MEAN PINBALL!”  Opening credits!  It’ll be a hit.

One final note.  When The Who played Tommy at Woodstock, they were interrupted by Abbie Hoffman, who apparently wanted to give an impromptu speech.  The band did the right thing and Pete Townsend literally kicked Hoffman off the stage.  And, in that way, The Who saved not only Woodstock but also the 60s.