Awfulsome is one of the most useful words not currently recognized by those Ivory Tower grammar fascists at spellcheck. It encompasses all things that are simultaneously awful yet awesome, like German TV, International Male, and Isiah Thomas, GM. It also describes as concisely and accurately as possible the programming philosophy of one Lifetime Channel. When practiced correctly, awfulsomeness is a life-affirming experience that allows one to guiltlessly make fun of other people for artistically degrading themselves, as they are likely making a lot more money than you and dating better looking people.
Occasionally, however, experiences that should be awfulsome are just, well, awful. Hollow, soul-crushing exhaustions of time that make you doubt the existence of a benevolent god. Last night’s Lifetime Channel original, “Fatal Reunion”, may actually be a notch below that. To say it has the production value of a porn flick would be a grave disservice to the film industry of the greater San Fernando Valley. A star vehicle for Erika Eleniak, fresh off her roles in “Baywatch” and “Under Siege” a scant 15 years ago, with a supporting cast as obscure as “Bum Fights” and only slightly better paid, it deprives you of the simple pleasure of laughing at someone else’s dramatic incompetence for the simple reason that, unless your job involves knowing the difference between “grande” and “venti”, you are likely making more money than the actors involved. Even a peek at the cast’s imdb entries is an exercise in low-budget depression. Lifetime seemingly spared every expense, not wanting to spend the extra time and Union OT in post-production to edit out the crew’s shadow in the background, nor seeing the importance in making sure the main character’s name is correct in the Lifetime website’s synopsis (They call her Jennifer while the film makes a convincing argument that her name is actually Jessica.) Making fun of this movie is kind of like jeering the players at a Sacramento State/Cal State East Bay game.
Of course that won’t stop us from doing so. The story itself seeks to answer the cinematic question, “My buddy Dave has some sweet-ass cameras for the next couple of hours – wanna make a movie?” Eleniak plays a dipshit suburban housewife who seems to have had an accident with a tub of peroxide. She suspects her husband is cheating simply because he comes home from work meetings at 2:30 in the morning. In response she briefly flirts with an old high school flame, seemingly ignoring the fact that even the gaydar of someone who spent the last 50 years in a convent would fly into violent convulsions as soon as this dude walked into the room. When she ignores his attempts to get her into bed (we’re guessing to see what kind of thread count her sheets are), Eleniak is subjected to some of the most horrifying stalker tactics ever devised during a 15 minute smoke break – crank calls, impolite e:mails, her dog getting slightly poisoned, and a Facebook “hey what’s up?” from Steven Seagal.
Meanwhile, NC State provided a different study in awful over on ESPN. True, they put up a close and almost entertaining game against North Carolina in the first half, but this is a team with a decent amount of talent that has greatly undershot the expectations of a lot of prognosticators this season. Namely ours. It’s unfortunate that trades can’t be made in college basketball, because the presence of freshman J.J. Hickson, a versatile 6’9”, 240 lb. forward, has completely overshadowed last year’s most dynamic player, sophomore Brandon Costner, a versatile 6’9’, 240 lb. forward. Despite the awfulness of the Wolfpack, the game was a worthwhile viewing endeavor for one reason only – David Thompson. Thompson, the original Skywalker, was Mike before there was Mike. He was 6’3” and easily could have done the Gerald Green cupcake dunk, though unfortunately he may have opted to snort a line of blow off the rim while he was up there. That, and a jacked-up knee, ultimately ended his career. But just seeing Thompson, admittedly my favorite childhood athlete in any sport, made me smile. My parents still remember my making them buy me a pair of his horrible Pony DT shoes, which I think were made in Guatemala and given the circumstances of his demise had the most ironic name in the history of shoeware. Having Bobby Jones sitting next to him makes last night’s ESPN/Lifetime Channel battle a no-brainer (Ironically, Jones traded seats with George McGinnis at halftime and immediately won a flat-screen TV.)
Score : Lifetime Channel 1, ESPN 1