Thursday, 10 March 2011

wild palms - the mini series

A genuine ‘show of it’s time’ WILD PALMS was a five episode mini-series, broadcast in 1993, that was promoted (in the UK at least) as the ‘next TWIN PEAKS’. It certainly had many of the ingredients: a mindbending plot, a Hollywood directors involvement and enough surreal moments to shake a log lady at. The show was a critical hit in the States, a bomb in the UK, and had the rare distinction of making many ‘best of’ and ‘worst of’ lists for the year, depending on your geography. I was firmly in the negative after this viewing, the first since I saw it on release, and yet I can still see the potential that kept me watching, the first time around.

So Oliver Stone is the big fish behind getting the story (originally from an independant comic) onto the big screen, which each episode helmed by one of a group of fresh feature directors. The basic plot revolves around a fusion of technology and drugs, and the role that  unassuming laywer Harry Wyckoff (James Belushi) finds himself playing as his world slowly falls apart. He has a devoted wife on the edge of breakdown (Dana Delaney) a femme fatale (Kim Cattrall) a crazed boss (Robert Loggia) a mother-in-law from hell (Angie Dickinson) and a truly worrying son (Ben Savage) all struggling to survive the next eveolution in broadcasting, politics and, maybe, human life itself... And then, theres the rhino...yup, a rhino... rather bored looking one, at that.
There is a hell of a lot going on, and thats one of the challenges of this show. In addition to the main tech thread, you have politics, media, art and genetics. All of these seem to struggle for airtime over the course of the arc, with the main thread suffering more than most. We get a tech-heavy start (plus William Gibson cameo) and then barely a whisper until its too late to care. What always impressed me, when I first viewed this, was how the series ending came out of nowhere and was ‘very deep’. . . . . nowadays I just call it piss-poor ploting of the main arc, especially since I watched all the shows within two days.
On this viewing, however, I did find elements I really enjoyed. There is a strong theme of art and style, tied into the political ‘freedom fighters’ of the film. This is personified by Nick Mancuso’s Tully character, a flambouyant artist who becomes a the ongoing foil for Dickinson’s seemingly untouchable matriarch. He is backed by assured turns from Ernie (agent I fly everything Fowler) Hudson and the mighty David Warner, as they portray the elements of society that have been mined and exploited by the media, to the point where you wonder if victory for them would herald a return to the dark ages.
Normally I do suggest people view the films i write on about (after all, everyones opinion is just as relevant) but I do feel that it would be a waste of time for anyone to spend time on this set, especially considering that this has aged horribly. Though two areas now seem to be so unintentionally hilarious that I may suggest it as a surreal comedy.
1)      Dana Delany (utterly stunning) is the overlooked housewife whom our hero cant get interested in (yes folks, our hero has Libido issues) yet he will go after Cattralls terribly styled plank of wood. Anyone who has ever seen Sam in SEX AND THE CITY knows how good Cattrall can be, in this she is absolutely abysmaly dull.
Thats not me moaning, thats the part I mean.  The bit where they have to show grief or rage. Its pitifull. Belushi’s grief over a certain element is the worst piece of acting I have E.V.E.R. seen in any movie, followed by Warners version of a similar moment (so ad they pan off him during the episode and dub his moan over a different shot in the next episodes recap) and then there’s oddity which is Dickinsons main face off (think cliché Prime and Megs) which just annoys me now.

God, what a review. You spent ages going through it and it comes to nothing. Damn, if I just came out with something random and cool you may think better of the artical and assume you missed the good bit. . . . . much like the subject then!!!


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