TV Skeptic: Danny Partridge and Greg Brady meet ‘Bigfoot’
“The Partridge Family’s” Danny Bonaduce and “The Brady Bunch’s” Barry Williams star as long-time rivals in “Bigfoot,” a new big-budget TV thriller premiering Saturday on Syfy. As bad as that might sound, in reality it’s worse.
SPOILER ALERT! What follows reveals numerous plot points and the fates of several characters. Think of these as mercy spoilers — if you read this, you can skip watching. But if you really want to see “Bigfoot,” you should stop reading now!
Remember cute little Danny Partridge? Imagine him with his amoral scheming and hustling intact, but now all grown up — heavier, meaner and less likable than ever — and you have Bonaduce’s character in “Bigfoot.” Williams’ portrayal of an environmental dilettante is simply a bigger, angrier and older (but no wiser) version of Greg Brady.
And the same is true for Bigfoot. Here the mysterious creature has more in common with “Jurassic Park’s” T. Rex than “Harry and the Henderson’s” lovable Sasquatch. He’s huge, anywhere from 20 to 50 feet tall, depending on the scene and the camera angle. He’s malevolent and runs up an impressive body count over 90 minutes. His favorite weapon is his big foot, which he uses to squish anyone who annoys him. At the top of the food chain, he has a taste for human flesh and kills several people by biting their heads off. (I suspect they wanted Ozzy Osbourne for the “aging rocker” role but had to settle for Alice Cooper, whom the creature mercilessly dispatches with a soccer-style kick.)
The production borrows heavily from a number of classic films and TV shows, but it’s hard to tell if the intention is parody, tribute or plagiarism. Bonaduce plays a promoter trying to stage a nostalgic “ ‘80s Flashback” concert near Deadwood, S.D. The corrupt mayor, played by Howard Hessman — think Murray Hamilton in “Jaws” (“You’re the mayor of shark city ... you want the beaches open!”) — allows bulldozers to clear a small forest to make room for the expected crowds. But the concert site happens to be Bigfoot’s front lawn, and this monster makes Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” hero look like Mr. Rogers.
As the body count begins to rise, Bonaduce channels Jack Black’s Carl Denham from “King Kong” and brings in the experts to capture Bigfoot and put him on display.
Andre Royo (Bubbles on"The Wire”) is cast as the ex-military-special-forces-weapons-expert-mercenary hired by Bonaduce to corral the beast. Royo is the only cast member to rise above stereotype, but he’s soon slaughtered — not by Bigfoot but by a startled National Guard squadron that mistakes him for the giant creature.
The CGI bigfoot is probably the biggest, nastiest version of the mythical creature ever portrayed. His footprint is about 7 feet long, and his hands end in long sharp claws. He runs with the grace you’d expect from one of the main characters of “The Big Bang Theory,” yet, somehow, he’s also fast. Fast enough that in a scene borrowed from “Jurassic Park” — where a T. Rex chases the jeep — Bigfoot catches his prey.
Sherilyn Fenn (of"Twin Peaks”) is cast as a fish-out-of-water sheriff with a melodramatic back story and very little to do.
The story winds down with a final confrontation between the two leads and Bigfoot on nearby Mt. Rushmore, borrowing themes and imagery from “Jaws,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” and just about every version of “King Kong.”
In the end it’s hard to know for whom to root. It’s not just that none of the characters is likable or believable, it’s hard to care one way or another what happens to any of them. The good news is that, after raising expectations for a feel-good happy ending, all fears that the same cast will return in a sequel are mercifully blown to bits.
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