The house that wouldn’t die
In the age of instant streaming and mindless binge-watching, made-for-cable movies seem almost an archaic artifact, reminding viewers of a less convenient, Netflix-less past. Austin Film Society Bi-Monthly Screening Series history of television returns to audiences eager to explore their favorite small-screen classics – this time as an official TV show. Accompanied by commentary from television historian Amanda Reyes and senior AFS programmer Lars Nilsen on Austin’s public Channel 10, the six-month series will highlight the legacy of television producer Aaron Spelling – the spirit behind many TV and movie classics such as charlie’s angels and The ship of love.
This season of history of television will explore the beloved producer and Dallas native’s contributions to the evolution of television and examine his work within the context of Texas culture. Reyes said: “What television has done and is now doing similarly is it creates community and helps to connect with other people from very different backgrounds. It’s one of the most powerful things in television.”
While Spelling’s resume is full of high-profile productions, Reyes and Nilsen will also focus on his contributions to smaller made-for-TV movies on the show. “In an age where everything is available, one of the few things that still remains hidden is the TV movie, because it’s usually only been shown once or twice on TV and disappeared,” Reyes said. “In the digital age where we can get our hands on almost anything, most of those movies have still remained very obscure. Spelling has produced over 200 TV movies, and they’re all pretty good.”
On February 28, the duo will press play The house that wouldn’t die, a ghost story about a woman facing a haunting realization after inheriting her family’s ancestral country mansion. First shown as ABC Movie of the Week on October 27, 1970, directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (who also directed episodes of Impossible mission and Magnum, IP) and starring four-time Oscar nominee Barbara Stanwyck, Reyes explained that the film was chosen for the history of television for its timeless script and talented production team.
“Here we have Aaron Spelling producing a film directed by who I think is the greatest director of made-for-television films, starring a great classic film actress in a role that was specifically given to her because “He wanted to encourage TV to have older women on there and portray them in a very positive way.”
Promoting more exposure for older actresses in the 1970s and 80s was just one way Spelling broke down social barriers as a producer, according to Reyes. “Spelling was doing things on his shows that were really progressive, but they were done in really [casual] traditional ways, so you didn’t always realize that he was kind of giving you the kind of political message. It was opening people’s eyes to all kinds of different things, and it was diversifying the television landscape by incorporating people of color and women.”
AFS presents history of television‘s Masters and Methods: Aaron Spelling Chapter Two, The house that wouldn’t die. Broadcast Monday, February 28, 7 p.m., on Austin Public’s channel 10.