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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Retro Review: Stay Tuned (1992)

Stay Tuned
Directed by Peter Hyams
Cast: John Ritter, Pam Dawber, Jeffery Jones, Eugene Levy
Genre: Adventure Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $10.5 million

Plot: Salesman Roy Knable (John Ritter) spends all his free time watching television, to the exasperation of his wife, Helen (Pam Dawber). One day, TV salesman Spike (Jeffery Jones) convinces Roy to buy a satellite dish offering 666 channels. Tadditionaddtion to Roy's home entertainment system sucks him and Helen into Hellivision, a realm run by Spike, who is an emissary of Satan. For 24 hours, the couple must survive devilish parodies of TV programmes, if they want to return to reality alive 

'Harmless Satire On Television Shows That Could've Been Funnier' 

Take two sitcom actors, the late John Ritter of Three's Company and Pam Dawber of Mork & Mindy, throw in a satellite dish and some parodies of different television shows & some slapstick humour and special effects and what you get is an uneven -yet at times, wacky, out-of-this world comedy. 

Stay Tuned was a bomb in US theaters and across the world when it came out in 1992.  

It's part The Running Man meets classic American pop culture, and in some instances, it works. With each programme they find themselves trapped in, they have to find a way of resolving each situation. 

Seeing Pam Dawber here, she did all right and she looks great, but I could understand after seeing her role here why her career didn't really take off after this movie. Although I was a little disappointed that unlike her co-star on Mork & Mindy, Robin Williams, she never managed to sustain a career in movies or TV. The movie's flop pretty much derailed her career and unfortunately, we never saw much of her after that. John Ritter was good however in his role.

I also liked the animated sequences which were done by Chuck Jones where they were rodents in a Tom and Jerry meets Robocop-like feature (I could watch a whole movie of Roy and Helen as cartoon rats), and the special effects elements and the way the events were unfolded, gave me the impression that this is supposed to be like watching an animated series. Some of the titles for the shows were pretty amusing actually, including one where John Ritter's character ends up on Three's Company. It's a bit of a shame they didn't do the same for Pam with Mork & Mindy

The premise of parodying the shows, as well as the actual skits, concept and plot is interesting and different, especially for a fantasy comedy, but for the animated scenes - the film's execution and mishmash of ideas are somewhat of a disappointment and the narrative keeps on jumping about and thus, it never remains consistent throughout. And that's despite getting off to a strong start. 

Some of the gags aren't funny either; like when one of the French guys goes to his friend and says: 'how come he dresses like a woman?' and the other guy replies with 'I do that sometimes'. 

For me, this is a harmless movie that could have been so much more & would have been better suited as a B-movie instead. 

Final Verdict

Stay Tuned tries to be a satire on television shows, but instead what we get is a jumbled mess of ideas with no consistent narrative. The movie is uneven and though it tries to get things moving, the extended set pieces and the humour in those set pieces falls flat, making the whole execution inconsistent. 

The initial concept for the plot is a good one. For a comedy, however, Stay Tuned flatters - & I am disappointed by this because I assumed there was more than enough left in the tank in this movie to make it fully worthwhile. Sadly, that wasn't the case, and that lack of consistency throughout all but killed my interest.


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