The Boy Who Drank Too Much (1982, directed by Jerrold Freedman)


“He wet his pants on my mother’s rug!”

That’s what happens when you’re the boy who drinks too much.

In this made for television social problem film, a young Scott Baio plays Buff Saunders.  Buff is a high school student, a star hockey player, and an alcoholic.  He drinks because he grew up with an alcoholic father (played by Don Murray) and he learned early that drinking could make him feel confident whenever he was feeling insecure.  When Buff’s drinking gets out of control and he starts getting into fights, blowing off school, and seriously injuring himself, he is sent to a rehab center, one that is out of town so that the hockey team doesn’t find out that he’s an alcoholic.  His best friend, Billy (Lance Kerwin), rides the bus every day so that he can be there to support Buff but Buff’s own father cannot bring himself to come down there.  At first, Buff refuses to admit that he has a problem and won’t even speak up in the group meetings.  Eventually, even Billy starts to get tired of Buff’s attitude and his refusal to admit that his drinking has gotten out of control.  When Billy says that he’s not going to spend his birthday watching Buff sulk at rehab, Buff is forced to take a look at what his life has become.

The Boy Who Drank Too Much was basically an after school special that got the primetime movie treatment.  Scott Baio was in a lot of these movies, which is one reason why it is sometimes tempting to laugh at them today.  Baio was never really a bad actor but he was one of those actors who came across as being smarmy even when he was supposed to be playing a sympathetic or sincere character.  That’s especially true in The Boy Who Drank Too Much.  Even when Buff finally seems to be serious about controlling his drinking, you still never believe his sincerity.  When he apologizes for all the harm that his drinking has caused, he still seems like he’s waiting for the chance to grab the flask that he’s hidden somewhere in the room.  For the most part, though, that works for the character.  Baio’s playing an alcoholic who, for the majority of the movie, just tells people what he thinks they want to hear to get them off his back.

The movie does a good job of showing how a problem like alcoholism can be passed down through the generations.  Lance Kerwin and especially Don Murray both give good performances as the two people closest to Buff.  Murray appeared in and helped to produce a lot of social problem films like this one and it’s obvious that his heart was really in his performance here.  Ed Lauter took a break from appearing in every single Charles Bronson film to play Kerwin’s father and the lovely Toni Kalem, who was one of the most underrated actresses of the era, appears as well.  For a television production that’s trying very hard to be socially relevant, The Boy Who Drank Too Much isn’t bad.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Raquel Welch Edition!


4 Shots From 4 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 wish a happy birthday to the one and only Raquel Welch!

4 Shots From 4 Films

One Million B.C. (1967, directed by Don Chaffey)

Fathom (1967, directed by Leslie H. Martinson)

100 Rifles (1969, directed by Tom Gries)

Kansas City Bomber (1972, directed by Jerrold Freedman)

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.2 “Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy”


The second episode of Night Gallery originally aired on December 23rd, 1970 and it featured three stories, two of which were written by Rod Serling.  Serling, himself, introduced all three of the stories by inviting us to look at the paintings that may or may not have been inspired from them.

Room With A View (dir by Jerrold Freedman, written by Hal Dresner)

When a cranky, bed-bound man (Joseph Wiseman) discovers this his wife (Angel Tompkins) is cheating on him, he comes up with an elaborate scheme to get revenge.  It all hinges on his somewhat nervous nurse (Diane Keaton), who has no idea that she’s being manipulated.

This short segment is well-done but it doesn’t really feel like it belongs on an episode of Night Gallery.  There’s no elements of horror or science fiction to be found in this story.  Instead, it’s just about a manipulative man seeking revenge on his wife.  It’s actually easy to imagine this segment as being a flashback on a Monk-style detective show.  You just need a detective saying, “I finally figured out how you did it!”

For most viewers, probably the most interesting thing about this segment will be the presence of a young Diane Keaton, playing the nurse and laughing nervously at her patient’s rather intrusive questions.

The Little Black Bag (dir by Jeannot Szwarc, written by Rod Serling)

In the 30th Century, a careless accident at a time travel station sends a black medical bag into the past.  It arrives in 1971, where it’s discovered by two homeless gentlemen.  One of the men is a disgraced former doctor named William Fall (Burgess Meredith).  The other, Hepplewhite (Chill Wills), has no medical experience but he does have a greedy spirit.  Fall wants to use the bag to do good,  Hepplewhite wants to use the bag to make money.  Meanwhile, in the future, poor put-upon Gillings (George Furth) is just trying to figure out what to do about the missing bag.

The Little Black Bag is this episode’s high point, featuring good performances from Meredith, Wills, and Furth and also ending with properly macabre twist.  This is another Rod Serling story about how terrible, at heart, most people are but Jeannot Szwarc’s direction is fast-paced and he never allows things to get too heavy-handed.

The Nature of the Enemy (dir by Allen Reisner, written by Rod Serling)

NASA’s latest expedition to the Moon has run into trouble.  The astronauts have discovered that there is something living on the lunar surface.  On Earth, the director of NASA (Joseph Campanella) tries to keep everyone calm while also figuring out the nature of the enemy.

This segment has an intriguing premise but it’s let down by a so-so execution.  Like a lot of less-than-effective Night Gallery segments, this one features a story that doesn’t so much conclude as it just stops after a somewhat weak punchline.

So, the second episode of Night Gallery was not an improvement on the first and it was nowhere close to matching the pilot.  Watching this episode, it was hard not to feel that the show had a few growing pains.  Did it want to be a horror anthology or a collection of short skits?  The 2nd episode reveals a show that was still trying to find it’s voice.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper