Monday, March 02, 2009

An Inordinate Sense of Panic

The screen of my phone was strangely black when it rang this afternoon at my desk, which meant I couldn’t tell who was on the line. It was my husband, who said, “I just came home. The door is unlocked and slightly open. I can’t talk long because I have to call the cops.”

That’s when my heart, which had started pounding at the word “unlocked,” did the sick fall of doom that leads straight into shock.

“Both kids are missing, along with the sitter.”

I started laughing, “Holy cow. I thought you were going to say that the gaming system and TV were gone, that we’d been robbed. No, my sister took the kids to the museum.”

I think I can blame the TV movie for my momentary panic. You’ve seen the titles: A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, She Woke Up Pregnant, or Too Young to be a Dad. It’s not that I deliberately sit down to watch these small screen tales (usually) it’s more that you’re sucked into one from either the title or just plain curiosity. And then by the time you realize you’re watching a TV movie you can’t stop because you have to find out if Shannon Doherty’s roommate is really possessed and might try to kill her (the answer will always be ‘yes’ to those two statements.) The storytelling is so transparent that you know exactly what will happen the minute they show the bad girl trying to get the good girl to climb onto the roof to dance (someone, at some point, will fall off that roof.) By TV movie standards, my sister taking the kids to the museum would never turn out well, something horrific would always happen.

I’ll admit that sometimes a TV movie can be sweet, even a little good. I watched Loving Leah a couple of weeks ago on CBS and kind of enjoyed myself. What’s not to like about a modern levirate marriage story where the brother of the deceased marries his widow?

More often, however, the TV movie is a tale of wo, endless misery, and the crazy woman du jour. Take tonight, where I had the privilege of watching Hush, a movie starring Tori Spelling (you already know it will be good) and Tahmoh Penikett (Helo on Battlestar Galactica) (Yes, I watch Battlestar because it is awesome without irony, full stop.) Those two lovebirds move back to his hometown from the big city where they re-acquaint themselves with his ex-girlfriend—who steals their frozen embryos and tries to have their baby! How great is that? I mean, the minute they showed Tori snuggling with a cat you just knew that Tabby was going to meet a grisly end. Hush was one of the most satisfying entertainment experiences I’ve had in forever (I’m THISCLOSE to cutting you off, Heroes.)

So I want to hear your confession: what’s the most awesome TV movie you’ve ever seen?

Will you give us a short description?

And if your life was made into a TV movie, I want to hear about that too (but not you, Betty Broderick.)

My cat is dying to know.

I'm so lucky to also be over at my friend Marie's Makes and Takes today. Go check out my magic trick (no actual magic abilities required on your part.) And HI to any Makes and Takers who wander over here (isn't Marie great?)


amelia said...

Lifetime movies, how I love thee. I haven't watched a good one in a while. The last one I saw was about a dad falling in love with the babysitter and then...killing his wife? Ditching his kids? Creepily stalking the babysitter? I don't remember the details.

Rachie said...

Tahmoh Penikett will NEVER look right standing next to Tori Spelling. Never. (He would look right, however, standing next to me.

I think I saw the movie about the guy who marries his deceased brother's wife. I watched it and thought about how much my grandma would have liked it. She loved her some Hallmark movies on Sunday nights!

jennie w. said...

You already mentioned my favorite, Betty Broderick. The funny thing to me is why they called it "The Betty Broderick Story". It's not a very catchy compelling title. But the movie is pure 24K gold.

My husband is always pretty glad he married me after we watch that.

kiki said...

The only TV movie I have ever watched in its entirety is the Betty Broderick one. I even made a trip from Monroe, LA, to Dallas, TX, specifically to watch it with my gays. It was fabulous. If I had more time, I might indulge myself, and I'm insanely jealous that I haven't had the pleasure of watching "Hush".

kiki said...

Also, WHY ARE YOU STILL WATCHING HEROES?! That mess should have been CUT OFF many months ago. STOP IT, CARINA! JUST DROP IT COLD! You can do it. I believe in you.

sarah k. said...

I'm more than a little curious about Kiki's gays.

Heroes has dreadful writing, give it up forthwith.

I confess, I haven't seen a made-for-TV movie in a while, what with the no TV. I'll have to think about this pressing question.

Fig said...

I watched a heckalotta Lifetime movies when I lived in Orem by myself for a summer. The one that sticks out most clearly in my mind (for obvious reasons) was about a girl in a relationship with two boys. One relationship. Three people. Lots of weird kinky triangle stuff.

So uplifting.

Fig said...

And I am so excited to try your magic trick.

emily said...

The one I remember most is the one with Joe from The Facts of Life. Her husband was abusive and she tried to leave him, and he ended up stabbing her like 470 times or something and left her for dead. She survived though, believe you me, and testified against him in court. Sweet vengeance.

Heroes was officially cut off last night.

Kalli Ko said...

pregnant at 16 with i believe kirsten dunst back in the day was always my favorite...

and heroes makes me want to choke and die it's so bad lately.

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

The only ones I'll admit to watching are Christmas movies on Lifetime -- hey, I was sick home from church with sick babies. What are you gonna do?

One was about Roma Downey as a single mother factory worker whose boss, Will (from Will&Grace) was pretending to be straight and learning to not be Scrooge. Etc.

The other was actually enjoyable -- The mom from one of the sitcoms on KJZZ was an exotic dancer/witness that the studly FBI agent had to protect so she could testify against her mobman/boyfriend. He took her home to his parents for Christmas, because that was THE ONLY SAFE PLACE. It was cute, though.

marshall p said...

you know how I watched "Loving Leah" that time when I was sick... it was so great. The cute boy in it was in an episode of mad men.

my thought is this: maybe you should start renting the good stuff from netflix?

"mad men" is great.
"it's always sunny in philedelphia" is sick and hilarious.
and my new favorite is this series from england called "shameless" it's even dirtier than the other two, so put the kids to bed.

Azúcar said...

I love It's Always Sunny. Charlie makes me snort my cocoa.

Carol-Lyn said...

Can I just say, Fa La La La Lifetime?? The only time I get hooked on TV movies is during Christmas when I seem to be baking non-stop, which leads me to turn on the TV, and naturally to tune in to the only Christmas themed movies that are inevitabley on Lifetime.

I love how everyone of the Fa La La La Lifetime movies has the same basic plot: Single mother -- trying to make it on her own -- is sad and lonely at Christmas-time. Her cranky, but hot, boss needs a favor. Santa shows up and makes her see that the boss's crankiness would go away, if only Single Mom and Child were part of Boss's life. Happily Ever After.

Suzie Petunia said...

Admittedly, I don't know much about tv movies. But Battlestar is simply the best show on tv, (IS STARBUCK'S DAD DANIEL? What a great episode last week!) and I have indeed given up on Heroes and dropped it from my regularly viewed list of shows.

Cicada said...

This Christmas I vowed that I need to write a screenplay for a made for TV movie, because how hard can it possibly be? Clearly they'll accept and produce anything. So all I have to do is plug in the formula and cash my check!

Also, I did cut off Heroes. It was all too much.

heidi said...

any show with a semicolon in it's title is going to be cinematic genius. throw in texas and you know you are going to get some great hair, desirable outfits and outrageously good stereotypes.
basically it is the story of a white trash tramp(not all the same thing) who marries a rich cattle heir after his legs are mostly paralyzed. tons of bad accents and a gratuitous use of navels and daisy dukes. check your local listings asap.

Miggy said...

My mom is convinced that my fear of being killed in my sleep {or awake for that matter} is directly connected to the serial killer made for tv movies I watched growing up... {please note that she never stopped me from watching said programs.} The worst and the one I remember best is The Night Stalker--about the serial killer of the same moniker who entered peoples homes in the middle of the night during the heat wave in California during 1985 and brutally raped and killed the occupants. There were others too "I know my name is Steven" about a 7 year old boy kidnapped by a sick pedophile and found 7 years later at the age of 14. Or "The Hillside Stranglers" or "Adam" the Adam Walsh story. Yes it's a wonder I have problems.

Melanie J said...

Love BSG. I remember a made for TV when I was a kid called The Kathy Miller story starring Helen Hunt about this runner chick who gets hit by a car and has to relearn to walk and then run. I have no idea why that's the only one that I ever remember, but it is. Oh, wait! No, I kinda remember this one where Meredith Baxter is a woman with an eating disorder. But that's about it.

Emily Anne said...

I don't think I've ever seen a made for TV movie and I STILL have unfounded paranoia/fear about predators doing terrible things to me and/or my children. *shudder*

This is what I want to say every time I read your posts: you are so quick-witted and bright. (that's why I don't comment every time; that much "RahRahRah Carina!" and you'd question my sincerity).

Can't wait to try the citrus trick. Thanks!

Melanie J said...

Oh, and I'll put money on Starbucks's dad being Daniel. MONEY.

Azúcar said...

I'm with you guys on Daniel, they've been about as subtle as a brick through a window. I have some theories about Starbuck, oh yes I do.

La Yen said...

People, please. You have left out the greatest Movie of the Week ever: Mother, May I Sleep With Danger: The Tori Spelling Tour De Force Wherin She Is Stalked By Her Abusive Boyfriend Who Has Already Killed A Girl But She Won't Listen To Her Mother Because Moms Are Out Of Touch With The Youth Of Today. (Subtitle added by me.)

Now, I say this having seen EVERY movie mentioned in these comments, (16 and pregnant is GOLD, and Meredith Baxter Birney Betty Broderick completes me)but in order to truly understand the genre you MUST begin with MMISWD.

1. Tori Spelling. Before this, we knew that she was the mild 90210 virgin, only slightly less boring than AHN-drea. We enjoyed seeing her get knocked around by her "musician" boyfriend. Other than that, we liked her new nose and hoped she graduated from West Bev. MMISWD changed all of that for us. She became our generation's Valerie Bertinelli. The new "Half-Pint of Made for TV Movies," if you will.

2. Abusive boyfriend. Now, Burning Bed had a great one. But it was "based" on a true story, so it loses the awesomeness. For a Movie to work, there must be abuse. Preferably male on female, though we will take a crazy Meredith Baxter Birney.


4. Although they kill the boyfriend, at the very end we see HE SURVIVED.

I can't finish this. I am too moved by my love for Lifetime:Television For Women. Azucar--Take over for me while I search my Tivo

kiki said...


And Sarah K., I have a harem of gay boys. I love them so much. A particular section of them live in Dallas, and when I was living in Louisiana, I went to Dallas at least twice a month to spend time with them. We planned one weekend around Betty Broderick. I loved it. We hooted-n-hollered so much. THE BEST!

Susan said...

I once watched a Meredith Baxter Birney movie called "The Kissing Place" and have never been able to get it out of my head. I think I am the only person who saw it. Ever.

Suzie Petunia said...

Azucar, We need to get together to watch BSG and swap theories. I want to hear what you have to say. I'm sure its brilliant.

fotohok said...

I would like to think of The Campus Ladies as a made-for-tv movie series, but you probably don't think they count. There are always the runner up great woman terrorized networks Oxyg*n and Hallmark Channel. My prob. with oxygen is that for some reason late nights in the summer there is weird canadian "love" movies. And Hallmark... well, I may have read one or two corset busters in my day *cough*cough* and they just take those books and make them into movies: cowboys, FBI agents, single mothers, killers, winter romances.
So, one of my most memorable is indeed the Shannon Doherty one where her sorority sister takes over her life, and boyfriend, buahaha. The lifetime movie that I actually think is cute? Lucky 7 with Mr. Can't Buy Me Love super skinny-with-my-shirt-off-I-love-you-Cindy, pre-Grey's Anatomy.

Stephanie N. said...

this is truly terrible, but the best one ever was that terrible tv movie of the elizabeth smart case.

best. tv. ever.

my family and i still recite the lines from that one. "I am WORTHY OF YOUR LOVE."

that sound you hear was the crack of lightening that sent me to hell.

April said...

Haha! I totally remember both the Jo from "Facts of Life" movie and the "Mother May I Sleep With Danger?"

But how it that no one has mentioned the glorious Mariska Hargitay Lifetime movie "Plain Truth," based on the Jodi Picoult book? We saw a trailer for that in the movie theater and were all, "OOohhh! We gotta see that!" Then at the end of the trailer it showed it was a Lifetime movie, and we about choked on our popcorn.

Laquina said...

You mentioned my all time favorite TV movie "Friend 'till the end" starring Shannon Dougherty. I cannot not watch it any time it's on.

Oh, and anything on eating disorders.

Natalie said...

I'm a lurker, but must mention the movie starring Victor Garber and Rita-Tom-Hank's-Wife where she has an invisible baby! And they all go along with it, because, sure, she's crazy, but darn it, they love her! Good fun on a Saturday afternoon.

WILSON! Rita Wilson.