Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Television For Victims

I don't know what it is about lazy weekend afternoons, but I love to spend them watching the Lifetime movie. And yes, I meant movie as in singular, because there is only one Lifetime movie, with different actors and slight variations to the theme. Two movies at most. I think I could make one.

First, the movie is set in one of two places: a spectacular house just on the outskirts of a small but quaint downtown area (all street parking and no malls in sight), or in some variation of a trailer park: an actual trailer, a low budget motel, a falling down cottage.

The premise of the movie is always a woman making strange decisions, against a villain doing things no real person could get away with in life. Let me discuss my most recent Lifetime movie as an example.

This one starred... oh who knows. Women and men we've all seen thirty times in other Lifetime movies. An evil teacher goes around killing people to take over their families and money.

The wife, of course, immediately adopts Evil Teacher as her new best friend, and starts to suspect her actual best friend of ninety years of doing all the strange things which didn't start happening until Evil Teacher showed up.

There is an annoying tendency of Lifetime heroines to fail to connect the dots until the last ten minutes of the movie.

Evil Teacher's antics are insane. She kills the dog, steals paperwork, breaks into the house numerous times, leaves phony voicemails, and oh yes, let's not forget, serial kills multiple people with her handy syringe, which she conveniently carries in a beautiful case in her purse. She sets up a full pharmacy in her hotel room, with zero explanation on how she gets her hands on poisons which kill and maim people within seconds of injection. And no one notices. At one point, she shoots a man and sends his van pummeling into a lake. Of course, no one shows up while she is dragging his dead body to the van. And forget that she is about 120 pounds soaking wet on a good day, and the man was a good two hundred. She works out.

Since, in a Lifetime movie, the villain is never found out until the end, everyone begins blaming the victim. She argues with her husband (who has some huge job as the head of all creation, always, and a secretary who may or may not also be killing scores of people). She breaks up with her best friend. Her children start to dislike her.

At some point in the movie, she'll get all the information she needs in one of three ways. The police knocking on her door, a mysterious manila envelope, or a Lifetime favorite, the answering machine. There is always an answering machine. Never digital voicemail. Not one director has yet figured out that due to technology, the audience could still hear the voicemail message even if it weren't left on a beige, 1980's, out of date machine.

After realizing that the villian is indeed a wacko, the victim invariably dispatches her children off to safe places, then hangs around her house, or worse, goes in search of the villian for a confrontation.

Cue arguement.
Cue sinister conversation.
Cue struggle for the weapon.
Cue death of the villian (they sometimes come back to life and have to be killed again).
Cue scene where husband and wife return to normal life and forget all about the murderous rampage.
Cue credits.

Man, I tell you. Lifetime. Things were a lot less predictable when Valerie Bertinelli was doing 'em.

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