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Video Rewind: Movie(s) of the Week Part 5

The Muldoon's (Eileen Brennan and Vic Morrow) don't realize that they're listening to is a play

The Muldoon's (Eileen Brennan and Vic Morrow) don't realize that they're listening to is a play

The Night That Panicked America- (10-31-1975)

At eight p.m. on October 30, 1938 the panic started and lasted for a few hours, thanks to Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre.

Thirty seven years and a day later, this movie made its premiere as one of the first Halloween movies made for television.

Prior to the broadcast, we're introduced to a host of characters at the studio and throughout the country.

In New York, the actors and crew are in the final preparations of the show and have to deal with last minute script changes and sound effect issues. They want to put on an exceptional Halloween show but aren't prepared for what's about to happen.

Somewhere on a farm, Walter Wingate (John Ritter) and his father Jess (Michael Constantine) are arguing about Walter fleeing to Canada to avoid the upcoming war.

Outside of Chicago, Linda Davis (Meredith Baxter Birney) is arguing with her fiance' Stephan Grubowski (Cliff De Young) regarding their relationship. He wants to get married but she has doubts and her father, Reverend Davis (Will Geer) won't allow her to marry him because he's Catholic.

In San Francisco, butler Harrison (Bryon Webster) and the maid (Hanna Landy) are getting things ready for a party at the Matlock residence. They hear the beginning of the program and are the only two who know that it's a play.

And in Newark, Ann Muldoon (Eileen Brennan) is torn that her husband Hank (Vic Morrow) is leaving her and their three children.

As the evening starts, the theatre company uses a location of a hotel as music plays and then it stops for a news bulletin about explosions on Mars and after the bulletin the music resumes.

At this point, no one is really paying attention to the radio and once again another bulletin is presented and so on and so forth.

Slowly, the characters are drawn into the invasion from Mars and they begin to panic as to what is happening.

The Wingates go out looking for the Martians, the Muldoon's pack up the children, Stephan races back to Linda and at the Matlock party, Matlock (Clarke Gordon) starts to take his priceless paintings off of the walls.

However, at a bar, the patrons are gathered around the radio trying to figure out what to do, but Tex (Burton Gilliam) tells them its just a radio show and he then begins to have doubts.

As the program progresses, the operators begin to get an onslaught of calls and notify Norman Smith (Tom Bosley). He's stunned to find out what's happening outside and quickly tells Paul Stewart (Walter McGinn) that they have to let get a disclaimer out immediately. Paul tells him that they can get a disclaimer out during the station break and before one can be issued, New York's finest enter the sound booth.

Now believing that the Martians are real, Tex gets pulled over by the police and when they receive a call, he stands there not knowing what to do.

Stephan tries to get the Davis' to leave with him, but the reverend won't leave even with Linda begging him. She's now agreed to marry him in the morning where they can be somewhere safe, but she won't leave without her father.

Meanwhile, back at the Matlock's, the maid tells Harrison that he should tell Matlock about the play, but, Harrison is having fun watching the rich panic.

As the Muldoon's leave their apartment building, they take their neighbor, Charlie (Liam Dunn) with them and in his panic, Hank gets the car stuck and as they trek through a tunnel, they see a red light (as described in the broadcast) and he takes out the gun that he's packed as they huddle around one another.

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Once the broadcast is over, everyone feels kind of silly for the way they were acting and Orson Welles (Paul Shenar) considers the broadcast a success.

The broadcast is also a prophecy for what's about to come.


The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (11-12-1976)

After losing a seven month old son, the Lubitch's (Robert Reed and Diana Hyland) find out that they're expecting again and Mickey is afraid that she'll lose this baby to a deficient immune system as well.

Mickey carries the baby full term and has a C-section and Tod is also born with the disease and his prognosis means a lifetime of living in a sterile environment.

When the Biggs (Howard Platt and Karen Morrow) move in next door with their three year old daughter Gina (Karri and Kimberly Kirsch) Mickey wants to bring three year old Tod (Seth Wagerman) home.

On the day they bring him home, it's a media circus as reporters and the neighbors come by to see Tod. They manage to get him inside where he spends the next fifteen years in his sealed room.

Although older Gina (Glynnis O'Connor) has been around the older Tod (John Travolta) the two don't have a real connection and she still considers him a freak. Her boyfriend Tom (Kelly Ward) and brother Bruce (Skip Lowell) ask her all kinds of questions about him but she can't really answer them. The only thing that she can tell them is that he stares out his window at her.

Eventually Tod wants to go to school, via closed circuit television, and he becomes a hit with the other students and Gina gets to know him a little better in the fact that she visits him at home.

One day, her mother asks her to invite him to the beach for the 4th of July party and once they get him to the beach, Tom and Skip dare her to hold his hand for two minutes during the fireworks. They tell her if she does, they'll give her $2.

When the task is completed, she makes fun of Tod and leaves with the brothers.

As hurt as Tod is, he eventually forgives her since he's starting to fall in love with her and she's also developing feelings for him. No matter how she tries, she can't help but start to admit it.

Tod isn't satisfied with his schooling from home and a special suit is made for him and he's able to physically attend school. He likes meeting his classmates in person, but when something goes wrong, he's back in the hospital where he meets Roy Slater (John Friedrich) who's sharing a room with him. Roy has a brain tumor and research has shown that he may go into remission by being in a sterile environment.

After eighteen years, his parents finally take a much needed vacation and while they're gone is somewhat reckless when he has his nurse Rachel (Anne Ramsey) and Gina bring him outside where he can watch her ride her horse.

While this is a typical disease of the week movie, its still pretty good today, but I wanted to bring up some acting trivia.

Vernee Watson (Gwen) was on Welcome Back, Kotter with Travolta, and Ward would also star in Grease with him. A few days after this aired, Carrie would open along with P.J. Soles (Deborah) and Travolta.

In the scene in which Tod is at school for the first time, he and his classmates are sitting on the football field smoking a joint (of course he's not) and it looks like Soles is wearing her prom dress from the aforementioned movie.

Also, Friedrich would star in Thank God It's Friday and of course Travolta in Saturday Night Fever so there's a little movie rivalry in their scenes and both movies did play against each other in foreign markets.

Julie Carmen and Jamie Lee Curtis await their marching orders in She's In The Army Now

Julie Carmen and Jamie Lee Curtis await their marching orders in She's In The Army Now

She's in the Army Now- (5-15-1981)

There are two types of television movies that have been popular.

The first being thrillers and the second are watered down bastard cousins to popular feature films such as She's in the Army Now.

This 1981 entry rode the coattails of Private Benjamin and surprisingly is a lot better than its successful "cousin."

Kathleen Quinlan stars as Pvt. Cass Donner, a recent college graduate and doesn't make a good first impression upon arrival since she's a few hours late. However, Sgt. Reed (Janet MacLachlan) sees potential in Donner and promotes her to Squad Leader against her better wishes.

Donner tells her squad what she expects but isn't prepared for a love triangle between Pvt. Yvette Rios (Julie Carmen) and Pvt. Rita Jennings (Jamie Lee Curtis) when the two start fighting over Nick Donato (Rocky Bauer). She gets caught up in the middle of the fight and is reprimanded by Sgt. Barnes (Dale Robinette).

Another thing that she doesn't know is street wise Jennings has agreed (begrudgingly) to bring marijuana onto the base for Donato. She's in charge of ambulance transport so it's easy for her to work with Donato's brother on the outside.

Pvt. Sylvie Knoll (Melanie Griffith) has been accused by her ex-husband Virgil (Robert Peirce) of abandoning their five year old daughter and seeks custody of her, but she just wants a better life for the child.

Rounding out the misfits is Pvt. Virginia Marshall (Susan Blanchard) who doesn't fit in with army life and is constantly getting the group into trouble. There are a few times when she does show confidence but it quickly fades.

Unlike Private Benjamin this movie only shows the cadets in Basic Training and doesn't explore life after which makes it far more enjoyable and there is a connection to Private Benjamin.

For the first part of her acting career, Damita Jo Freeman (Tina) spent the first three years of the '80's "in" the army. She was in the movie and TV series of Private Benjamin which bookmarked her appearance in this movie.

I'm not sure if this was a ratings blockbuster, but it's fun to see a lot of familiar names in their first early roles.

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