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Out of Time missed the deadline on creativity Print-ready version

by John Haslett Cuff
Toronto Globe and Mail
July 16, 1988
Original article: PDF

SUNDAY night's new television movie, Out of Time (NBC an DITY at 9 p.m.), is a corny and derivative action/comedy that suffers in comparison with numerous projects that predate it. It highlights the challenge facing prime-time television viewers- finding something to watch that is original in its execution or content. This is a formidable enough challenge during the regular season, but in a (writers) strikebound summer it becomes nearly unsurmountable.

While television is usually first to exploit - and sometimes explore - social issues, it lags behind the movies in terms of style, innovation and changing public sensibilities. But the relationship of the two media has been incestuous for several generations now and with the proliferation of specialty channels it's difficult to divine the source of original ideas and influences.

Out of Time immediately brings to mind at least three far superior entertainments: Bladerunner, Buckaroo Banzai and (the TV speries) Max Headroom, but the similarities are only screen deep. Like them, it opens in the future, (in 2088) when police work has become more computerized and cops wear big-shouldered bellboy uniforms. The hero, Channing Taylor (Bruce Abbott), is a well meaning but ineffectual young cop whose very burch superior officer (a twenty first century clone if Isla, she-wolf of the Nazis) calls him a "hemorrhoid."

In hot pursuit of a homicidal felon named Markus (British rocker Adam Ant), Taylor is transported back in time to 1988 where he teams up with his grandfather Max (Bill Maher), an equally inept but ambitious member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Together, with moral support and coffee supplied by an ingénue named Pas (Rebecca Schaeffer), they destroy the bad guy and make the world safe again.

The film tries hard to be cute without being cynical, to be action packed without being violent. Maybe it worked as a concept - "cops from different centuries hunt killer"- but it doesn't fly as a comedy, thriller, comic book or movie. The only thing even slightly interesting about it is Ant's performance. He looks and sounds like the young Terence Stamp at his evil best. For the most part, it's a grab-the-money-and-run-because-nobody-watches-TV-in-the-summer venture.

Caveat emptor.

Laurie Brown, the lucid, intelligent and charming host of The New music (CITY-TV at 7 p.m. tonight and Sunday), will preview her exclusive interview with jazz guru Miles Davis this week. The reclusive trumpeter agreed to see her if they only talked about is "other" art, his sketching and painting. Brown and crew wound up spending the better part of an afternoon in Davis's apartment and the intimidating Maestro of Cool even complimented her. Since she had agonized about what to wear in the presence of the hippest clotheshorse in jazzdom, Brown was delighted when he noticed. As she was leaving, Davis appraised her exaggerated, oversized outfit and then mumbled, in his low, phlegm-choked voice, "nice suit."

The bulk of the interview will be featured in a special edition of the show devoted to musicians who are also artists. Joining Davies in this category and on the show: Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell and Tony Bennett. The show will probably be broadcast in mid-September, Brown said.

City Lights frontman Brian Linehan may be changing his act after more than a decade of being intimate with movie stars and authors on his internationally-syndicated show. Sources say discussions are underway to replace the show with something different. CITY-TV is apparently looking for someone to team up with Linehan for a tagteam movie review format à la Siskel and Ebert. A CITY spokes-man would only say that "we're talking about doing something different with Brian, but it's only in the talking stages."

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