TV Reviews : Slick Look Covers Rough Script in PBS’ ‘Big Time’


Public television viewers who occasionally indulge in the guilty pleasures of MTV can howl tonight. Keith Reddin’s “Big Time,” on “American Playhouse” (Channels 28 and 15 at 9 p.m.), looks as if it belongs on MTV.

In fact, Paul (Adrian Pasdar) has just shot a music video starring Fran (Mia Sara)--and we see it, and excerpts from it, throughout the show. We also see samples of Paul’s commercials and his ludicrously artsy public-service ad on behalf (?) of the homeless.

The rest of the movie, too, was shot in a high-gloss, ultra-chic style. Throughout, visual accent marks appear in the very grainy, black and white Polavision, zooming in on tight close-ups of details that might otherwise be lost in the color footage. The color, too, is used cleverly--for example, a scene titled “Boys’ Night Out” (placards announce chapter titles here) is shot in pink, while the corresponding “Girls’ Night Out” is in blue.


No one is credited with direction; instead, the film was “created by” Jan Egleson, Howard Cummings, Bill Anderson, Paul Goldsmith and Marcus Viscidi. Some of this team, as well as composer Pat Metheny, also worked on “Lemon Sky” for “American Playhouse” last year.

All the glitz doesn’t disguise the fact that Reddin’s script (also staged in Beverly Hills earlier this year) isn’t much. In fact, the cool look of the show may actually take some of the heat out of Reddin’s shallow jeremiad against yuppies.

The model really wants to be a serious actress. Her lovers are selfish louts, especially the greedy Michael (Dennis Boutsikaris), who is not only mean to his mistress but also to the Third World, in his job as an investment banker. So what else is new?

It’s difficult to take any of these people seriously, but they do pose well, and Metheny’s score adds a brooding sense of melancholy.