Stay Tuned (1992)

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: Stay Tuned (1992)

Re: Stay Tuned (1992)

by Flack » Fri May 28, 2021 3:31 pm

Frankly I always though it was a rip-off of that Twilight Zone episode that got recycled into the Twilight Zone movie with the kid who could wish whatever he wanted, and at one point he wishes his sister into a television cartoon. Also, the movie Shocker (where a serial killer was able to zip in and out of televisions) predates this movie by three years. According to Stay Tuned's IMDB's trivia page:
Based on a story that aired on the first episode of TV series Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories (1991), but often confused for being based on a similar TV series (Unsolved Mysteries (1987)).
I couldn't track down the first episode of that show, but there's an episode guide on Wikipedia and I can't find anything that remotely resembles this movie. There are only three episodes, so it's not that hard to read what they're all about. Either way, it seems like "getting zapped into the television by someone" is a fairly common idea.

Re: Stay Tuned (1992)

by AArdvark » Fri May 28, 2021 1:53 pm

I vaguely remember watching this and thought it was a ripoff of the "Murray in TV Land " sketch from Amazon Women on the Moon, which it probably was

Stay Tuned (1992)

by Flack » Fri May 28, 2021 6:26 am


Roy Knable (John Ritter) is a man who loves television. He watches so much television that his wife, Helen (Pam Dawber), is about to leave him. Roy's life is changed when a mysterious man named Spike (Jeffrey Jones) arrives and gifts him a new entertainment system that includes a large television and a satellite dish serving 666 channels. Roy's dream turns into a nightmare when the satellite dish sucks him and his wife into the television, where they must survive 24 hours or lose their souls forever.

John Ritter plays his typical "flawed-but-lovable" character here. Most of the humor comes from the parody television shows that Roy sees while flipping channels on the hellish satellite system (examples include My Three Sons of Bitches, Beverly Hills 90666, Facts of Life Support, Three Men and Rosemary's Baby, and a workout program called the Exorcisist) and the situations the two have to find ways out of. The downside is that the film isn't written very well, The movie spends about ten minutes getting Roy and Helen into the television, and the rest of the movie having them leap from one show to the next, always escaping just before the two are killed and sent to hell.

A major problem with the plot is that Spike's system of sending people to hell seems terribly inefficient. For each person, he has to go to their house, install a new entertainment system including a 10' satellite dish, hope they eventually stand in front of said dish, and then watch them struggle for 24 hours as they hop from show to show in hopes that they'll fail and he can steal their soul. Is... that the best system the devil's sidekick can come up with? In 2019 (pre-pandemic), almost 3 million people died in the US, an average of just more than 8,000 a day. Isn't that a good enough system?

The bigger problem though is that for the majority of the film, nothing happens. There aren't the traditional peaks and valleys normally found in characters' arcs. The majority of the film is spent with Roy and Helen running from danger. Roy doesn't defeat Spike with any knowledge or wisdom he gained throughout his journey, he just zaps him with a television remote. Even in the climax, when it's clear to every other character what Roy needs to do to escape (turn off the television), he still doesn't get it. Yes, during the epilogue we see Roy has learned his lesson, but it would have been nice to see that arc of change within Roy's actual journey.

I was glad to use my remote to turn this movie off as the credits rolled. I won't be pressing "play" to watch it again anytime soon.