Sunday, February 07, 2010

Francesca Baby/Very Good Friends

Nothing but the classics for me. My 3AM viewing comes courtesy of a DVD that has not one but two Afterschool Special episodes, Francesca Baby and Very Good Friends also known as Bang the Turtle Drum.

Francesca Baby- This Afterschool Treat followed the exploits of one girl named Francesca. There’s no other way to say it, Francesca’s mom is an old-school ‘70s TV show drama alkie, meaning she's actually realistic. She spends all day laying on her can, chain smoking Eve's and boring the world with her smart ass mouth. Of course Francesca, the mascot of the Little Grown Ups, had to take care of her and her little sister. Sad.
Of course there’s a father in the picture somewhat. He is a periphery figure, coming and going, a shadowy presence, always leaving probably going home to his other family. Bigamist!

Truth be told, Francesca's no ball of fire herself. She’s old beyond her years. In my near sleep I thought it was Ellen Pomeo or Marcia Cross but it was someone else entirely. Lydia Farnsworth I think she's called (ok Carol Jones). Anyhoo, Francesca got turned on to Ala-Teen by way of a kind-of boyfriend named Bix. This didn’t sit well with Francesca Baby’s Mom. She was railing against it, smoking in bed, sounding off and of course, drinking.

Like many shows like this, this resolved itself too quickly. After seeing her kids cooking up a mock fire escape drill, the mother started feeling contrite and decided to dry out. Doggone it...

Grade B + I cried!

Very Good Friends

I have to say I had a difficult time not dozing on this one. This Afterschool Special debuted in the fall of 1977 and featured one Melissa Sue Anderson star of the Little House on the Prairie. While kids no doubt thought this might be fun-loving fare, this initial scene? A funeral. Fun wasn’t going to be jumping off nowhere!

Most of this drama centered around a lovable scamp named Joss played by Katy Kurtzman. She liked horses, the crusty ol’ neighbor, her tree house. You guessed it, she was doomed. This movie came from a book called Something I Had No Interest In Reading. Sadly even when we were enthralled with the witty dialogue, the bucolic view and the hi-jinks, the intro let us now trouble was coming. And it did. After near-misses in the stall, on top of big horses, etc, Joss finally met her maker via the tree house scene. And about that tree house. I’m no scaredy cat but tree house was high, it was Jeffersons deluxe apartment in the sky high. I was stunned when she fell, it was a long way down. I wish her sister would have gotten on her cell phone and called 911.

Despite the depressing subject matter, Very Good Friends was fun watching. Melissa Sue Anderson's character learned some life lessons and stuff and everyone felt better as the credits rolled. Well, I did, I fell to sleep.

Grade A-
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