February 6, 1996 in Features

‘Co-Ed Call Girl’ Low-Grade Drama

John Martin New York Times Syndicate
 

Who knows what torment awaits the souls of those who decide that what America craves is Tori Spelling starring in a movie titled “Co-ed Call Girl”?

Perhaps their personal hell will be to watch this junky no-brainer for an eternity. Once is punishment enough.

The 1996 movie, which CBS airs at 9, is about a clean-cut college girl, Joanna Halbert (Spelling), who barely makes ends meet by helping her mom (Susan Blakely) run a doughnut shop.

Dumb enough to answer an ad for a Los Angeles escort service, she believes the slick owner (Scott Plank) when he assures her he’s strictly legitimate.

After she makes $400 just for having dinner with an out-of-town businessman, she figures she’s got it made. After all, the boss promises she’ll never have to do “anything she doesn’t want to do.”

He’s lying, of course, and soon Joanna’s being coerced into having sex with customers. The threat of being fired prompts her to comply.

When she tries to draw the line, her boss threatens to tell her mom what she’s been up to. So she shoots him.

What follows is the most laughably ridiculous courtroom scenes I’ve seen. Take note of how Joanna’s lawyer has his prostitute-client take the stand wearing high heels and a bright red miniskirt.

At least that’s consistent with the movie’s mission, which is to serve up Spelling in low-cut evening dresses, lingerie and various states of undress whenever and however possible.

Highlights

“Wings,” NBC at 8: Cameos by Bryant Gumbel and Jay Leno (in shameless network cross promotion) are part of an episode in which Sandpiper Airlines’ reputation hinges on the on-time delivery of a Boston Bruins hockey player (David Gianopolous).

“America’s Most Wanted: If Looks Could Kill” (1996), FOX at 8: The fact-based movie re-creates one of the FOX crime series’ most infamous cases. Antonio Sabato Jr. plays businessman John Hawkins, who scams an insurance company out of millions and then goes into hiding.

“America’s Most Wanted” alerted viewers to the crime, resulting in Hawkins’ capture. Unavailable for review.

“Nova,” KSPS at 7: A chilling hour follows an international team of doctors dispatched to Zaire to contain an outbreak of deadly Ebola virus.

“Home Improvement,” ABC at 9: Jill (Patricia Richardson) talks Tim (Tim Allen) into having a vasectomy or, as Tim puts it, having the “zippity” taken out of his “do-dah.”

Some laugh-out-loud dialogue peppers what is essentially an informative show about the ins and outs of the procedure.

“Frontline,” KSPS at 8: “Murder on Abortion Row” examines the case of John Salvi III, charged with the shooting deaths of two Boston family-planning clinic workers in 1994.

“Champs,” ABC at 9:30: Vince (Ed Marinaro) is too proud to accept Herb’s (Paul McCrane) offer to pay for his son’s art-school tuition. This all-male “Friends” comedy doesn’t work for me, but Kevin Nealon is funny again this week as his character Marty meets the man (Steven Eckholdt) who’s dating his estranged wife (Julia Campbell).

“NYPD Blue,” ABC at 10: In an intense episode, Simone (Jimmy Smits) is the investigating officer when Russell’s (Kim Delaney) father is killed in a domestic shooting involving his wife (Phyllis Somerville) and son (George Dicenzo).

Russell, a tough cookie, tries to be a good daughter and a good sister as well as a good cop.

xxxx CABLE CALLS New York Times Syndicate “Law and Order” (1953), AMC at 5 and 11: The movie channel devotes an evening to Ronald Reagan with a triple-feature that begins with a Western in which the former president plays a retired marshal who can’t escape his past. At 6:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., it’s 1955’s “Tennessee’s Partner,” another shoot-‘em-up, based on Bret Harte’s story about a cowboy (Reagan) and a gambler (John Payne). And at 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., call it a night with the 1951 comedy “Bedtime for Bonzo.”


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