Archive for the ‘Jason Priestley’ Tag

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 21: Hell Mall (2002)   3 comments

Above:  The Ghost of Velma Jacob

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Hell Mall

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 15, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-120

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Kelly Biddlecome as Brandi

Ellen Cleghorne as Esperanza

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Stephen Dunham as Louis Phillips

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Myrna Niles as Velma Jacob

Mark Perkins as Anthony

Rebekah Peace as Danielle

Behind the Camera

Writers = Michael Shear and Patrick Sean Smith

Director = David Barrett

Above:  Danielle

Brief Summary

The Staten Island Fashion Square Mall has become a dangerous place to be in June and July 2002.  In the last month, three employees have gone out of their minds briefly killed people.  Off-screen there was an “unfortunate incident at the piercing kiosk,” followed by someone getting impaled at Weiner on a Stick.  And, before the opening credits, Brandi, an employee at Fashism, attacked Stefaney, her manager, with a pair of scissors.  Brandi, in the back room at the story, asked Stefaney, “What are you doing in my room?”  Then Brandi complained, “I don’t want people touching my things.”

Two days later, valley girl Danielle, daughter of a copy editor at the World Chronicle, speaks to Tucker Burns, Wes Freewald, and Grace Hall in the conference room.  She tells them about Brandi.  Donald Stern adds more information.  Wes asks if the cause of the attacks could be demonic possession or a government experiment that has gone wrong.  Stern rejects those theories and proposes psychoactive mutant worms instead.  Tucker Burns suggests that there may be a rational explanation.

Wes, Grace, and Tucker work on the story. Tucker goes undercover at the mall as a spritzer.  His supervisor is Anthony, another stereotypical homosexual.  Grace and Wes briefly interview Brandi in jail, until Detective Hector Garibaldi tells them to leave.  Brandi remembers nothing of the attack on Stefaney.

The new man in Grace’s life is Louis Phillips, an architect she meets when he accidentally drives into the back of Wes’s car, in which she is a passenger.  By the end of the episode, Grace and Louis are dating.

Detective Oblivious, er, Garibaldi, is back.  He meets with Kristen Martin in his office.  Garibaldi refers to the events of Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns, Take Me Back, and Man and Superman.  He says the police made no arrests in these cases.  Garibaldi suspects Donald Stern of being responsible for those murders, at least.  Kristen rejects this.  The detective shows Kristen an Iranian newspaper from 1981.  Stern’s photograph is obvious.  According to Garibaldi, the headline, in Farsi, announces Stern’s death.  The detective goes on to compare the staff of the World Chronicle to the Heaven’s Gate cult and offers Kristen an opportunity to help Tucker Burns before it is too late.  Kristen leaves Garibaldi’s office.

The ghost of Velma Jacob, an elderly nurse, keeps appearing to Tucker and leading him into restricted areas of the fashion mall.  She asks him to help her.

Anthony the chief spritzer goes nutso.  He sets some customers of fire.  Then he says, “Goodbye, Blue Door,” in German and jumps off the highest level of the fashion mall.

Tucker, based on evidence, suggests that ghostly possessions have caused the problems at the fashion mall.

Donald Stern warns Grace, Tucker, and Wes to “use their heads” around Garibaldi, whom Grace refers to as a “Sipowicz-wannabe.”  That, of course is a reference to Andy Sipowicz, whom Dennis Franz portrayed in NYPD Blue.

Louis Phillips comes to offices of the World Chronicle.  He holds a copy of the issue from the end of The Mists of Avalon Parkway.  Grace accuses him of being a stalker.  He denies that allegation.  The roses are from Grace’s mother, who sent them after learning of the break-up with Dennis.  Louis explains that he has been calling Grace because his insurance company needs a statement from her.  Furthermore, Louis explains, he is at the office because he needs to sign forms for Wes’s insurance company.  No, Louis explains, he is not there to ask her out.

Research in the archives yields helpful information.  There is nothing suspicious about the site of the mall.  In fact, it was the site of an Indian mall in antiquity.  However, the “Blue Door” is a reference to the Shady Oaks Sanitarium for the Criminally Insane, the decaying ruins of which are 15 miles away from the mall.  The sanitarium, which had large blue doors, was the site of excessive electric shock therapy until the State of New York closed the facility in the late 1950s.  The spirit of Klaus Hauser, a pyromaniac who jumped to his death from the room of the sanitarium, possessed Anthony.  The ghost of Frank Silva, who jabbed a spoon into his doctor’s eye socket, possessed Brandi.  And nurse Velma Jacob was a sweet old lady until she vivisected three of her patients.

Wes, Grace, and Esperanza visit the ruins of Shady Oaks.  The psychic pronounces the structure devoid of spirits; it is a “ghost’s ghost town.”  The spirits, attached to items, have moved to the fashion mall because the “art” at the mall consists of objects from Shady Oaks.

The spirit of Velma Jacob possesses Tucker Burns.  Neither Grace, Wes notice this immediately.  Kristen never notices it.  Nevertheless, the possessed Tucker has been trying to kill them.  At the fashion mall, at night, Wes and Tucker realize that Tucker is possessed after he attacks them.  Ghosts of the criminally insane try to prevent Wes and Grace from electrifying the “art” fixture, but our heroes succeed.  Velma flees Tucker, and all the spirits leave the mall.  Tucker gets electrocuted, but he recovers.

Louis Phillips and Kristen Martin are waiting at the World Chronicle when our heroes return from the mall.  Louis had lied when he denied going to the office previously to ask her out on a date.  Grace asks him out to dinner.  Tucker and Kristen go out to dinner.

Later, Kristen sits in Detective Garibaldi’s office again.  He holds a copy of the most recent issue of the World Chronicle.  The headline reads, “GHOUL, INTERRUPTED.”  Kristen agrees to cooperate if Garibaldi will protect Tucker.

Above:  Kristen Martin

Character Beats

Off-screen, Grace Hall has recently broken up with Dennis, who has moved to Canada.  We met Dennis in Hot from the Oven (the ninth episode produced and the seventeenth one broadcast), set in late September 2001.  Their relationship lasted much longer than three weeks.

Kristen Martin has resolved her crisis regarding what to believe.  She, despite witnessing the alien spacecraft take off and fly away at the end of Take Me Back and the ritual at the end of The Cursed Sombrero, has chosen to believe that Donald Stern is merely a harmless huckster.

Kristen Martin and Tucker Burns have been dating for more than a year.

Above:  Louis Phillips and Kristen Martin

Great Lines

Danielle, addressing Tucker Burns, Grace Hall, and Wes Freewald:  “Hi!  Okay, so I was at my friend Dawn’s house, and Dawn was, like, dating this guy who was going out with this girl named Brandi, who works at Fashism, in the mall.  Anyway, he told Dawn, and Dawn told me that Brandi was acting kind of strange and stuff.  Then, a couple of days ago, she went, like, totally nutso and jammed a pair of scissors in her manager’s eye.  And the really strange thing is that I almost applied for a job at Fashism, like, a couple of months ago.  It could have been me.”

Kristen Martin, to Tucker Burns:  “I rarely know what’s going on with you–late-night calls from jails, smashed cars.  I mean, it’s like I’m dating Jason Priestley.”

Wes Freewald, to Grace Hall:  “This is a mall, not the Starship Enterprise.”

Above:  Louis Phillips

In-Universe

Anthony is correct; the “art” in the fashion mall is hideous.

The “United We Stand” banner in the fashion mall confirms that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred in the universe of The Chronicle.  This is interesting, with regard to continuity, especially given the events of Man and Superman, set about that time.  (The real-world answer, of course, is that banner was present in the filming location in San Diego.)

Above:  Shady Oaks Sanitarium for the Criminally Insane

Comments

Hell Mall is the twenty-first episode produced and broadcast.

I have known a number of openly homosexual men and women over the years.  I have attended church with some, been classmates of others, and taught others.  Not one has been a stereotypical character.

What of Brandi’s fate?  It was not her fault that a homicidal ghost possessed her temporarily.

We last saw Kristen Martin in The Cursed Sombrero (the sixteenth episode produced and the thirteenth one aired), set in May 2001.

Hell Mall sets up the next episode, A Snitch in Time.

Hell Mall combines elements of comedy and horror well.  It also relates several previous episodes to the events of this episode effectively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Fancy Dancing (2002)   2 comments

Tanya Allen as Karen in Fancy Dancing

FANCY DANCING (2002)

Starring

Jason Priestley as Asa Gimmel

Tanya Allen as Karen

Ewen Bremmer as Bernard Schiff

Dave Thomas as Uncle Billy

Dave Foley as Nat Porter

Deborah Odell as Charity

Connor Price as Michael Pelham/Stuart Gimmel

Dan Chameroy as Mar Stoddard

Stephanie Graham as Doreen Gaynor

Directed by Brock Simpson

91 Minutes Long

No MPAA Rating

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With this post I continue my series of reviews of selected Tanya Allen movies.  Per my custom, I choose to leave most of the film’s content for a viewer to discover, but I endeavor to encourage one to do that.  Know also that I write this post immediately after having watched the movie again and taken screen captures.

Fancy Dancing is a pleasant and sweet movie, maybe even a good date movie, assuming that one’s date enjoys singing and dancing in the style of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  To state the case differently, one who likes stoner comedies and scatological humor will certainly dislike this film, which, if rated in the U.S.A., would probably be PG.

Asa Gimmel

Asa Gimmel has lived off a trust fund for too long.  He sleeps rather late and spends many nights in a jazz club, where he lives in a time warp.  Asa, you see, is stuck in the 1940s.  He knows the songs of that era and spends too much time watching cheesy musicals starring Mar Stoddard, the Canadian counterpart to Fred Astaire, and his frequent costar, Doreen Gaynor.

Asa also likes to pursue women he meets in the jazz club.  Early in the movie, he follows one young woman home.  Consider this clever writing:

WOMAN:  Who’s that?

ASA:  “Tis I.

WOMAN:  O, you’re that guy who lives at the Winchester Hotel.

ASA:  I beseech you, please do not steal into the darkness of your chamber, but lend an ear to an unworthy suitor.

WOMAN:  Okay, but I should warn you that it’s going to take more than arcane pronouns to get me into bed.

Schiff

Living in fantasy land with Asa is his good friend and fellow musician, Bernard Schiff, or just Schiff.  He speaks in a frantic and barely understandable variety of English, but he comes with subtitles in the middle of the screen.  Schiff spends much of the move fretting over the loss of the “groove,” which he swears his girlfriend stole from him.  Later, however, he concludes that he did not lose the groove and could never have lost it, for “the groove is within.”  There is your motivational thought for the day, O reader.  “The groove is within.”

A Business Idea

Schiff decides to turn lemons into lemonade.  So he creates a new board game, Co-Dependent Quandries.

The Game

As you can see, O reader, it comes with a heart-shaped board.  Wow!

Asa with his son and ex-wife

Asa is also irresponsible and on the outs with his former wife, Charity.  She calls their son Michael Pelham, but he insists on referring to the boy as Stuart Gimmel.  And Asa thinks that a highland sword is an appropriate gift for the boy.  This disturbs Charity, who also objects the fact that Asa’s most recent child support check bounced.

Michael/Stuart

And Asa keeps his son up much too late at the jazz club.  As Asa asks, “What kid doesn’t like the cabaret?”

Charity and her parents, whom Asa calls “cricket-playing Anglicans” contemptuously (At least it is better than “limey bastards.”), read Asa and his uncle and aunt the riot act.  Asa will either become responsible immediately or lose visitation rights to Michael.

Uncle Billy

Asa’s Uncle Billy, who owns an advertising agency, agrees that Asa needs to learn responsibility.  So he forces Asa to go to work in the family business immediately.  So Asa learns how to get to work on time and how to plan an advertising campaign.

Nat Porter

Asa works under Nat Porter, an annoying man who prefers to have a lamp at eye level between himself and any other person.

He becomes concerned when someone lowers the map.

Karen

Asa works with Karen, who designs the advertisements themselves.  Asa concludes that Karen is weird, but that he likes her.  She thinks that he is also odd, but in a good way.

Karen and Asa

Asa is thrilled to learn that he and Karen have the same taste in movies and music.

At a Movie

They attend a screening of a Mar Stoddard-Doreen Gaynor movie, Song of the North.

It is really cheesy, but they enjoy it.

Asa and Karen

Asa and Karen get along very well.

That which follows is a sweet and predictable plot about how an interest in Mar Stoddard movies can lead to a successful advertising campaign.  Asa and Karen fall in love, of course, and everyone lives happily ever after.  Along the way we encounter a healthy dose of singing and dancing, some of it involving Jason Priestley and Tanya Allen.

True Love

I recommend Fancy Dancing highly.  There ought to be plenty of room for something as positive as this in a film fan’s life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2011 COMMON ERA