Our kind of Guy
Our vote for best TV hero goes to the heavy-lipped, heavy-lidded Vinnie Terranova of CBS' wildly popular Wiseguy (ten P.M., Wednesdays). Its third season starts this month and we can't wait.
So what is it about Vinnie? Is it that his eyebrows touch? Women we know find Ken Wahl, who portrays him, achingly sexy. But he hits us in a different way.
We like his job. Vinnie is a field operative in the O.C.B. (Organized Crime Bureau, which may or may not be a division of the FBI). He is placed under deep cover to infiltrate crime. The inevitable happens: His enemies are often more interesting and more consistent than his friends. Crime in Wiseguy is pure entrepreneurial capitalism. It doesn't have a bureaucracy to assuage or answer to; it doesn't have to fill out forms. Hit men don't requisition their equipment. Vinnie gets to frolic in this dangerous playground.
Also, by virtue of being undercover, Vinnie has fulfilled that secret desire all of us harbor: to be secretly doing good even though it seems we are being bad. This is a bulletproof excuse for the sort of little sins we all commit every day.
We would like to have a friend like Vinnie. He is seduced by people, not by what they do. He sees the good in everyone, realizing that good people do bad things nearly as often as bad people do.
But there's something else. Vinnie's a family guy. He loves his mother. In the first year's episodes, his mother complains that one son is a priest (he is killed off) and the other, a criminal. Eventually, Vinnie breaks all the agency's rules to let his mother know he is on the right side of the law after all. The black sheep of the family gets Mom's approval after it turns out he has merely been misunderstood. And isn't that what we all hope for?
Who was that one-eyed man? I wanted to thank him
If there's one thing men enjoy more than objectifying women with stupid nicknames for their breasts, it's objectifying themselves by thinking of really stupid nicknames for their penises. That's why our hearts were gladdened when we heard about The International Dictionary of Names Men Call Their ... Vol. I. Sadly, this woefully inadequate first installment of a planned trilogy turns out to be limp and short on imagination. Moreover, it contains not a one of our own favorites: the old Spam javelin, the pocket possum, lap ham and Honk the Magic Goose. We think your trouser trout deserves better.
We checked out the summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago--all 13 miles of exhibit aisles--and found some cool--as in the cool medium--new toys. In VCRs, there are the new compatible decks that play both VHS and VHS-c format tapes without an adapter, plus the high-end, high-priced video recorders with editing capabilities. Palm-sized camcorders and 70-inch televisions also bode well for sales in the slightly soft electronics market place.
Keep your eye on the new dual-deck video-cassette recorder from Go-Video. The VHS VCR-2 can copy tape to tape, which is great news for home dubbers but raises some sticky legal questions concerning copyright protection. The beauty of the Go-Video VCR is that it can record a TV signal on one drive while you play another tape in the other drive. You'll be able to buy it at Christmas for about $1000.
Judging from its huge display, Nintendo's 80 percent share of the video-game market would seem to have knocked everyone else out of the box. But while its new Game Boy ($90) portable video system is fun to play and the sheer quantity of Nintendo products is inspiring, the fat lady has not yet sung for the competition.
Atari, in the shadow of Nintendo's hype, offers a spectacular hand-held video game--its Portable Color Entertainment System ($149), which features color graphics (Game Boy does not) and a sleeker design. Also in the running are Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx from NEC. Both are full-sized game systems with added color, large graphics and great audio.
Ski Patrol, The Movie
There are problems shooting a movie on the slopes of a ski resort: Your set constantly slides downhill, your actors have to learn how to ski and you just can't let 150 people go to the bathroom in the snow.
At least that's what executive producer Paul Maslansky found out while shooting Ski Patrol, the first major motion picture on the sport since the perennial ski-town classic Hot Dog was released six years ago.
Filmed last spring at Snowbird, Alta and other Utah ski resorts, Ski Patrol will be released this fall. "It's a good commercial film," says Maslansky, who, as the producer of Police Academy I, II, III, IV, V and VI, should know. "There could be sequels--or a television series," he speculates.
Created in the Police Academy mold, Ski Patrol is half talk, half action, with just a few shots of girls in bikinis (wearing body make-up to cover up their cold blue skin) for balance. The plot is good guys versus bad: The heroes--the ski patrol--are cruelly sabotaged by the ski school, which is aiding the evil developers. A neon-haired snow-boarder, a newlywed couple and a burping bulldog also figure prominently.
But if the plot is basic, the skiing is not. Using top stunt skiers--many of whom are world-champion freestylers--Ski Patrol promises some of the most dramatic skiing yet on film. The action includes jumps over snow cats and out of lifts, skiing through bathrooms and down stairs and accidental tandem skiing on a Mistral Ski Sailor. And, of course, there are wild falls.
"We had to make it exciting," explains the ever-practical Maslansky. "You don't see auto racing with no crashes."