I met my friend Nick in the seventh grade, nearly thirty years ago. This means we’re old, but what brought the two of us together in the first place, was our obsession with comic books.
In the early 1990’s, there weren’t too many comic fans, so we instantly clicked. But other than our love for comics, I’d say the other thing that made us friends was our love for movies.
It wasn’t so much that we liked all the same movies, but just the fact that we liked going to the movies, and trying all sorts of genres. However, during the early days of our friendship, it wasn’t easy getting to the movie theater. We were too young to drive, and getting rides from our families was an agonizing chore.
So if we did have the chance to go to the movies, we weren’t too choosy on what we saw. For instance, after I returned from a Canadian vacation in summer 1992, one of Nick’s sister gave us a ride to the old Harborlight Mall in the other side od town. As I said before, we couldn’t be picky back then, so we decided to see the comedy “Stay Tuned.”
“Stay Tuned” was directed by Peter Hyams, and starred John Ritter, Pam Dawber, Jeffrey Jones, and Eugene Levy. The film tells the story of married couple, John Ritter and Pam Dawber who are having problems because Ritter has become a couch potato. Ritter is also obsessed with television, and with the hopes of receiving more channels, signs up with a new satellite company. Ritter doesn’t know his new cable provider is actually a demonic company called “Hell-o-Vision”
The company is run by Spike (Jeffrey Jones), and his company literally sucks its customers through their satellite dishes into a television purgatory. Once there, the people bounce from twisted versions of shows and movies to other twisted shows and movies. The idea is to stay alive, and win your freedom. But if people fail, they’re sentenced to eternal damnation.
I suppose that sounds like a ridiculous premise, but Nick and I thought it was one of the funniest movies we’d seen. Watching John Ritter navigate through this twisted tv world made us laugh then, and now. I can guarantee this is the only movie featuring “Three Men and Rosemary’s Baby, “My Three Sons of Bitches,” “Duane’s Underworld,” Salt-N-Pepa, Captain Lou Albano, and John Ritter’s worst nightmare: a returns to “Three’s Company.”
All the while, the couple’s progress is being tracked by Hell-O-Vision’s new, logical, get the job done employee, Brian, played by Erik King. to whom they must explain the process. He and others monitor the progress of every contestant, including an old lady is being killed in Tokyo by a Godzilla sized Will Vinton.
Call “Stay Tuned” stupid, silly, or whatever you want. All I know is Nick and I found the movie highly entertaining. So much so, that we ended up seeing it twice that week. A few days after the Harborlight mall trip, I was able to con my uncle into giving us a ride to the South Shore Plaza. Once my uncle was gone, we ran across the parking lot to the old General Cinema, which closed later that year and eventually became a Circuit City. I think “Stay Tuned was one of the last movies we saw at the old location before the new theater opened acrosss the street.
Anyways, Nick and I still enjoy “Stay Tuned” today as much as we did in 1992. We were even talking about it a few days ago, lamenting the fact this movie is out of print. Although the lucky bastard found a dvd copy years ago and didn’t get me one.
I guess in the end, “Stay Tuned” is one of those movies you will either hate or enjoy. But I don’t know if I would like this movie as much if Tim Burton had directed it like he was originally supposed to.
I think with Burton on board it would have lost a lot of its charm, and John Ritter would have been reeled in. I still say “Stay Tuned” is worth checking out. It’s funny, silly, and full of twisted parodies. So If you haven’t seen “Stay Tuned.” check it out! Assuming you can find it of course.