Hitting the TV Jackpot: Lifetime’s “Fallen Angels” Week
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 4, 2008
Not just for Ben & Jerry’s addicts anymore
What did High School Health classes do with their time before Lifetime, anyway? Without their steady diet of hot button Teen Issue movies, I can’t even imagine how the hours in my Health would’ve been filled out, but I’m pretty sure the alternative wouldn’t have been nearly as informative, eye-opening and blissfully entertaining. Date rape, alcohol and drug addiction, domestic abuse, general sluttiness–no affliction was too great for Lifetime to cover in their unambiguous, slow-mo-heavy, and greatly censored trademark style. They were pop culture oases in a class otherwise filled with awkward generational gaps and illness-wellness continuum-type exercises.
So imagine my joy after scrolling through TV with some friends today and coming across what appears to be just the beginning of Lifetime’s “Fallen Angels” week. What exactly is meant by “Fallen Angels” is not made clear, especially since the screen advertising the special oddly features what appears to be a bunch of fashionista mechanics swarming an empty airplane in a hangar (I know, right??) But in general, it appears to be a week of basically nothing but High School Health movies–female-focused ones, I suppose, which means we might not get a shot at the largely masculine classic Internet Porn cautionary tale Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, but on Lifetime, you know it’s gonna be chicks 90% of the time anyways, so any further description of it as such is fairly redundant.
And man, has it been a treat thusfar. Today I saw Death of a Cheerleader (alternate title: A Friend to Die For), featuring Kellie Martin as a loser whose attempt to friend-seduce an evil but popular cheerleader (Tori Spelling, naturally) backfires somewhat when she ends up stabbing Tori to death, and No One Would Tell, featuring Candace Cameron as a high school darling who falls for the wrong guy, a paranoid workout and wrestling enthusiast that beats her, chokes her, and eventually kills her (Fred Savage, naturally). There’s no surprises to be had here–the title + thirty seconds of viewing and you’ve already figured out the plot of the entire movie–but there’s not too much more enticing on a wasted day of TV watching than a couple of these bad boys back-to-back.
The main reason for this, of course, is not the ridiculous plot contrivances–like how the reason the Cheerleader Killer has a knife on her to gut Tori is because her sister loves eating cucumbers in the car. It’s not the imminently quotable, horrifically overwrought dialogue exchanges–like when a goth girl in Tori’s class, embarrassed about a humiliating poem written Miss Spelling had read aloud about her, exclaims “I COULD KILL YOU, STACY LOCKWOOD!!!” It’s not even the jaw-dropping, “Were the 90s really that long ago (and/or was I really that out of touch with fashion in High School)?” wardrobe selections–Candace Cameron’s supply of truly scandalous turtlenecks, or the overwhelming general trend of female-worn overalls.
The best thing about these movies is how they serve as nexus points–either on the way up or on the way down–for just about anyone who was ever anyone in the TV universe. Besides Life Goes On‘s Martin and Beverly Hills 90210‘s Spelling, Death of a Cheerleader featured roles big and small, pre- and post- 15 minutes, for James Avery (Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince), Terry O’Quinn (John Locke on LOST), Valerie Harper (the titular Rhoda), Christa Miller (Jordan on Scrubs), and even a turn from film That Girl Marley Shelton (Planet Terror, Pleasantville, Valentine, The Trojan War, and most notably, Wendy Pfefercorn in The Sandlot). Meanwhile, No One Would Tell finds room for not just Full House‘s Cameron and Wonder Years‘s Savage, but Eric Balfour (Milo on 24), Justina Macahdo (Vanessa, Rico’s wife on Six Feet Under), Michelle Phillips (One-time pop star and many-time primetime soap mainstay), and even a closing monologue from 90s daytime phenom Sally Jesse Raphael. Watching these movies with fellow pop culture nuts ends up being like playing a particularly tearjerking Where’s Waldo? book, seeing who can spot the inevitable once-and-future-A listers amidst the seas of C’s, D’s and F’s.
I’ll be tuning in intermittently throughout the week, assuming I can get around to forgiving myself for missing Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal‘s premiere. Maybe I can even catch a half-hour of She’s Too Young before the week’s out if I’m lucky.