Saturday, October 25, 2014


Hunky (for the 1970s) playboy Charles Sand (Peter Haskell, pictured) has a nightmare involving a roomful of lit candles and a coffin; when he opens the coffin, his uncle rises up with open full-white eyes and points menacingly at him. He is awakened by a phone call from his Aunt Alexandria (Joan Bennett) telling him that his uncle has died. Charles finds out the next day that he has inherited a family gift/curse: he has The Sight, meaning he'll see visions and premonitions, and should be prepared to use this power to help people. At his uncle's funeral, he has a vision of a mummified woman in front of the Parkhurst mausoleum, and soon he's involved in a Parkhurst family situation: young Emily Parkhurst has had visions of her brother's dead body and is practically hysterical about it, but her older sister Katherine insists she's wrong, that the brother is alive and out of town, and Katherine wants to institutionalize Emily. Charles has a couple of visions that make him think Emily might be right; do Katherine and her husband have something to hide?

This was a pilot for a show that didn't get picked up. The set-up here is interesting, but I can think of one big reason it didn't get past the pilot stage: after the first 20 minutes, the supernatural elements are downplayed to the point of vanishing, and this becomes a standard, fairly nondescript mystery. Haskell, a familiar TV face in the 70s, is fairly colorless here but adequate, and the actress playing Emily (Sharon Farrell) is terrible; Bennett is OK, as is Adam West as a family friend. Luckily, Barbara Rush is very good as Katherine—you'll figure out rather quickly that she's not what she seems, and when she lets loose in the last 15 minutes, she makes up for some of the blandness of the previous hour. Bradford Dillman doesn't have much to do as her husband. The 70s was a classic time for TV-movies, and I've been enjoying the access that Warner Archive Instant has given to many of these films, but of course, they're not all equal. This one has a nice opening section but ends up a bit of a disappointing mess. [Warner Archive streaming]

No comments: