Back at the start of last year (2011), I wrote a series of diaries about movies that I am willing to watch over and over again. Here is a link to the last diary (which has links to all the previous diaries.) I thought today, I would do a diary about the genre known as the “TV movie.”
Now I realize, that for many of us, the idea of TV movies as art is more than a bit of an oxymoron. Yet over the years, there have been some quite excellent and thought provoking TV movies. I’m old enough to remember when the movies from Hallmark Hall of Fame came on as specials each year. Heartwarming, sometimes almost saccharine, they were often feel good to the extreme. With the existence of the Hallmark Channel these days, many of these movies are still around. An example of a Hallmark movie I have enjoyed multiple times is What the Deaf Man Heard with a cast including Matthew Modine, James Earl Jones, Tom Skerrit, and Judith Ivey.
In the early ’60s, NBC started NBC Saturday Night at the Movies. While these were most often movies that had been through a run in the theater, it also started the formal idea of the TV Movie. ABC then came in with the ABC Movie of the Week.
There really have been some outstanding movies that appeared first on TV. For example, ABC broadcast the movie The Day After in 1983. A thought provoking look at the possible affects after a nuclear war. Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Amy Madigan, and John Lithgow were all part of the cast. Another outstanding ABC TV movie was Duel, directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Dennis Weaver. One fun movie I remember is The Girl Most Likely To with Stockard Channing and Ed Asner. Another was The Night Strangler with Darren McGavin.
Nowadays, the made for TV movies have a much broader universe. The TNT Network has had many TV Movies, especially westerns. The Shadow Riders with Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, and Katherine Ross is just one of these. Another is the movie Purgatory with Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts, and Randy Quaid.
This is just a brief sampling and overview of the TV movie genre. Join me in the comments if you like and tell me about your favorite made for TV movies.