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1987: The Unforgettable Year
1988. Tom Brokaw; dir. Marcia Ku)Per Schneider, 75m. V only. $24.95. Wood Knapp. Image: good.
If you like NBC Nightly News, you'll love this compilation of 1987's big events, as reported by the network. TV newscasts are essentially headline. services, so if you can imagine a 75-minute headline, you have a pretty good idea what this is like.
This answer to a news director's prayers. ("What can we do with yesterday's reports? ") recycles items about everything from the Wall Street crash and. the NFL strike to the sexual follies of Gary Hart and Jim and Tammy Bakker in a kaleidoscope of images and words, reducing the major and magnifying the minor. Conservative activist Howard Phillips is seenCalling Ronald Reagan a "useful idiot" for Soviet propaganda; the Pope kisses an armless man who has played the guitar with his f~et; forest fires rage out of control; a little girl is rescued from a well; another child is the sale survivor of a major air crash. Memorable lines are replayed, from Ollie North's claim that the IranContra plan was a "neat idea" to comedian Mark Russell's quip: "There is no smoking gun [in this scandal]-we sold it to Iran."
Yet everything takes on a sameness in this report, which is clever, slick and disc1udes with an interminable number of clips of departed stars, such as Fred Astaire dancing, Liberace preening and Rita Hayworth slinking. 1.987: The Unforgettable Year is symptomatic of the worst and best of TV news: glitzy, simple-minded and powerful.
Young Comedians All-Star Reunion.
Robin Williams, Harry Anderson, 1986. dir. Walter Miller. HBO. Image: good. 60m.
Comedy isn't pretty, Steve Martin once said, but it shouId at least be funny.
This HBO special offers five big-name comedians introducing five "stars of the future," most of wjom will probably find this their pinnacle. There's Howard Busthis, a clean-cut guy telling sex jokes. ("Last night my girlfriend and I had violent sex. I pulled down my pants and she kicked me in the groin.") Barry Crimmins. a chubby man' with a walrus moustache. offers jokes about the death penalty. acid rain and Grenada. John Mendoza, who sounds like a bitter, nasty Rodney Dangerfield, has the best zingers of the bunch. which isn't saying much. "You ever wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup? ... You ever wonder what kind of sexual protection the woman is using? My date was using foam. By the time I found out. I looked like a mad dog."
Sex and failed relationships are the staples of these monologues. taped before appreciative audiences in Toronto, Los Angeles. Boston. New York and San Francisco. The veterans' bits, performed before they introduce the newcomers. show the startling difference: Harry Anderson's charming. low-key magic tricks and Robin Williams' off-the-wall free associations are as brilliant and unpredictable as their guests' material is forced.
It's true, you can try too 'hard. As Groucho Marx noted upon meeting a woman who had 20 children because she "loved her husband." "I love my cigar. But I take it out of my mouth once in a while."
68 VIDEO MAY 1988