Made-for-TV Memory Lane

Our old tube TV is on the fritz, popping on and off at creepy poltergeist intervals such as 3 a.m. On one hand this is an okay thing, one less thing to move. On the other, I’m getting all nostalgic for my late-night hits of MeTV and MyTX.

My brother and sister and I used to watch a lot of TV when we went to visit the grandfolks. (TV, the best way since Reader’s Digest to bond with your grandparents.) At my paternal grandparents, we watched everything from Another World to Nick at Nite. I blame those trips for my neverending Twilight Zone obsession. My mom’s folks didn’t have cable, so we watched a lot of the news, 60 Minutes, Murder, She Wrote, Life Goes On, Walker, Texas Ranger, Martial Law, and all that. What I remember most, though, were the made-for-TV movies.

Scarlett!

God, this was bad. I also read the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the book, which was pretty bad, too. I remember there was a cheesy sex scene (just one? you gasp) and that Fletch Lives made fun of the cover. The movies I remember better were ones Based On True Events, such as this gem about the Waco massacre in ’93:

IN THE LINE OF DUTY

Check out that melodramatic shadowy leer at 0:07. I didn’t know too much about what was going on down in Waco at that age, other than the fact that shit was on fire and people died. (And later, that Janet Reno and/or the ATF were in trouble.) So, more than the news footage, I remember this movie. Which is sad, since according to the screenwriter the movie was made before the final attack and thus has a one-sided skew: Righting Waco: Confessions of a Hollywood Propagandist.

But let’s drift back in time to this amazing conglomeration of Ripped-From-The-Headlines drama:

The Amy Fisher Story Times Three, or She Came From Bah Haabah

(Warning, this link is gruesome, but it shows all three made-for-TV movie versions. Warning also for extremely overwrought acting.)

The similarity in dialogue is as jarring as the differences in acting styles and soundtracks. The Alyssa Milano soundtrack is particularly fraught! I think these clips show how much gore has continued to leak into network shows (although these were probably considered strong for the time) because they use more suggestion than the straight-up headshot and according blood sprays I think you’d see today. Also, did you SEE how she folded that pizzah? That is just too much sexy for daytime network.

Apart from my MeTV, MyTX, and the occasional investigative foray into new shows like Hannibal and whatever that cancelled murderous/pregnant/identity theft twin-thing with Sarah Michelle Gellar was called, I don’t watch much network TV these days. What are the new made-for-TV movies like? Do they still exist? I’d be a little sad if they didn’t, but maybe they had their time.

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