Robert Altman presents
“Gun” (TV mini-series)
Sound: B- Extras: C Episodes: B-
Filmmaker Robert Altman occasionally enters the world of
television, but not much. When he does,
it is something different, like the Tanner saga. Some people who may have thought Gun
was spin-off of Sledge Hammer! (reviewed elsewhere on this site) quickly
found out otherwise when Altman’s name was attached. Done in six-parts, the mini-series is an anthology of sorts for
the most part where the same gun is followed through six different tales. At first, it is interesting, but the later
shows go into the wrong direction by getting too silly, choppy and predictable.
The shows are:
Columbus Day stars James Gandofini as a
security guard who is certain an Arab man who has entered the airport is a
threat and this was 1997. He is right;
the man has a gun and one of the bullets have the mark of Islam on it, in a gun
that just killed a top Turkish official.
Rosanna Arquette and Peter Horton co-star in this fine opening show
written and directed by James Sadwith.
All The President’s Women is
Altman’s show with Daryl Hannah, Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly
and Sean Young as a bunch of friends who center around a country club where
Quaid may finally become its president.
Too bad he is making the rounds with the women, or that an abandoned and
loaded gun has turned up.
The Hole is the late Ted Demme’s piece
from a teleplay by Sadwith, in which a young girl (Kirsten Dunst) stuck in a
dysfunctional family that includes a passive mother (Carrie Fisher in great
dramatic form) and two sick men: her step-father and a loner young man who
might be a killer.
The Shot features Daniel Stern and Kathy
Baker as a couple in the middle of a holdup.
He becomes vigilante and chases away the young African American,
gun-toting criminals. James Foley
directed the Sadwith teleplay that is possibly racist, narratively problematic
and with a conclusion that is unsatisfying, out of place and sadly throws the
whole series off. Too bad, because the
idea that the gun can be bad and a loose one has a detrimental psychological
effect on people was a great thing to do.
Ricochet has Peter Horton switch to
directing as a homeless man finds a gun (yes, that one) that is evidence in a
murder (another one), but he keeps it instead.
Tess Harper, Christopher McDonald, Nancy Travis and Martin Sheen star in
a decent show that almost gets the series back on track.
Father John: An Article Of Faith is the
last and worse of the shows as Brooke Adams, Maria Conchita Alonzo, Fred Ward
and Edward James Olmos is wasted in an awful installment over a murdered
priest. Sadwith co-wrote the teleplay
with Joe Cacaci, who wrote the original story.
It is choppy, but the directing of hack director Jeremiah Chechik, who
had just disemboweled the French classic Diabolique and was about to
destroy the classic British TV series The Avengers a few years
later. This is almost as much of a
disaster and was the beginning of the end of Chechik as a director. Here is the first record of the damage.
I remembered the original broadcast of the series on ABC
and it was not the success the network had hoped for. You can see why. There is
enough good work here to justify catching the show again and skipping the latter
half, but it was at least ambitious in theme, which most TV mini-series have
not been since the 1980s. You can see
why so many good actors participated.
The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is consistent with a program
shot for TV at the time. There are detail
limits, but this looks decent for its age.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad, with good Pro Logic
surrounds. That includes the U2 remake
of The Beatles’ classic Happiness Is A Warm Gun, which is not as
impressive as it should have been, but it was a coup to get the band’s song for
a TV program. The few extras include
stills, a big trailer section of many other Tango Entertainment DVD releases
and an 8-page booklet about the show that has limited text.
- Nicholas Sheffo