There was an interesting trend in the 80’s and early 90’s. Over the summer break, many sitcom actors and actresses would all appear in the same TV movie. The movie usually had a plot and characters which had nothing to do with the various shows these actors came from. Nevertheless, seeing all these people from so many different shows together was something I loved!
These movies were corny and often had so many stories winding through them you couldn’t even keep track of them all. There were also standard cliche’s. The romance, the nerd becomes cool, the lame song at the end. But despite all of this silliness they were fun to watch! Here are five examples of what i am talking about :
Crash Course (aka Driving Academy, 1988)
A movie about kids taking driver’s ed in the summer. Starring Brian Bloom (As The World Turns), Dick Butkus (My Two Dads), Olivia Dâ€™Abo (The Wonder Years), Jackâ€™ee Harry (227), Alyssa Milano (Whoâ€™s the Boss?), Charles Robinson (Night Court), Rob Stone (Mr. Belvedere), Tina Yothers (Family Ties), Edie McClurg
Plus Harvey Korman and Ray Walston
So yeah, kids enroll in a summer driving school. There’s your movie. Of course there is a lot of stuff going on in the film. When I first saw this I LOVED it. I really did, I guess I was just the right age. Because when I watched it again a few years later, I thought it was corny and goofy. But still watchable. I could give a whole synopsis of this (and the rest of these) TV movie but with all the characters getting their own storyline I would be here all day.Let’s just say that this film is full of corny goofiness.
Jury Duty (aka The Great American Sex Scandal, 1990)
This one amazes me. It aired on ABC and had a representative, I kid you not, from every single sitcom on the network at the time (except Full House). Starring Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), Ilene Graff (Mr.Belvedere), Bill Kirchenbauer (Just the Ten of Us), Bronson Pinchot (Perfect Strangers…in four roles!!), Danny Pintauro (Who’s The Boss?), William G. Schilling (Head of Class), Reginald VelJohnson (Family Matters)
Plus Heather Lockelar, Tracy Skoggins, Steven Baldwin and Lynn Regrave
The plot is pretty basic, just like the rest of these films they take an average setting and have five different stories. In this case, jury duty.Again all the characters get some small story and by the end you stop trying to keep track. For instance Alan Thicke and Lynn Redgrave have a romance which is so shoehorned I missed it the first time I watched this. As I noted Bronson Pinchot has four roles here including a Gerald-esque reporter trying to get dirt on the jurors.
Camp Cucamonga (1990)
A movie about a typical summer camp. I’ve seen it but hardly remember it. Starring John Ratzenbeger (Cheers), Chad Allen (My Two Dads), Jennifer Aniston (Ferris Bueller), Candace Cameron (Full House), Dorothy Lyman (Mama’s Family), Danica McKellar (Wonder Years), Josh Saviano (Wonder Years), Brian Robbins (Head of the Class), Jaleel White (Family Matters)
Plus Sherman Hemsley and G.Gordon Liddy (Yes, really)
I really don’t know why I have such trouble remembering this one. Maybe I was getting a little old for these by this point. Or maybe since it’s every camp cliche ever the movie just doesn’t stand out for me. Think of a camp cliche it’s here. The romance between two campers, the rivalry with the other camp, etc etc. But like the rest of these films it’s good goofy fun. Worth watching just for Jaleel White’s rap about the place which will never leave your head. Or is that just me?
Dancing Until Dawn (1988)
This one…I don’t remember. At all. But from what I have found it qualifies.Starring Christina Applegate (Married..With Children), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Brian Bloom (yes, again!), Cliff De Young, Mary Frann (Newhart), Tracey Gold (Growing Pains), Kelsey Grammar (Cheers), Edie McClurg (Hogan Family), Alyssa Milano (Who’s The Boss?), a very young Matthew Perry, Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), and….I think that’s enough
It’s a movie about a prom, sort of like Petty in Pink for TV. And with six different story lines besides the main one. I watched a bit of it on YouTube and it looked like a typical teen TV movie like the rest of these. I wonder why I didn’t see it when it was first aired. It came out six months before Crash Course so maybe I just wasn’t aware of it.
Class Cruise (1989)
Another one I don’t remember. But let’s discuss it anyway.
Starring Billy Warlock, Michael DeLuise, Andrea Elson (Alf), Richard Moll (Night Court), Brooke Theiss (Just The Ten of Us), Marc Price (Family Ties)
Also starring Ray Walston and McLean Stevenson.
The plot is that a group of regular kids are invited to go on a study cruise, which is something normally reserved for the privileged. You can imagine what happened then. I have to anyway, because I never saw the film. And I plan to keep it that way. You may notice the theme to these teen movies seems to be what kids are doing when they aren’t in school. This one comes the closes to being an academic setting and IT’S ON A BOAT!!!
Finally, I asked my friend Les for suggestions and the one he gave me was a 1980 film called “Murder Can Hurt You”. It starred a bunch TV actors and was a spoof of spy movies. The cast includes Tony Danza, Jamie Farr, Gavin MacLeod, Connie Stevens, and Jimmie Walker. I decided it would be rude if I didn’t mention it since he was nice enough to let me know it existed.Â So there you go Les. Thanks again my friend.
Before I go I have to ask, whatever happened to the cheesy made for TV network movies we used to get? Anyone remember the Afternoon Special’s? I would talk about them but I never watched them. It’s still sad their gone. Man how times change.
Next time I want to talk about real movies. A lot of people might think an all star cast guarantees a hit film. Not so much, as we’ll get into.