Monday, February 1, 2016
'Hotel' S3 DVD: A Season of Very Special Episodes
The 1985-86 third season of the Aaron Spelling anthology drama "Hotel" brings this series of reviews on the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set of the show to a mid-point. The theme for the third season seems to be "very special episodes" that address a social issue of that day (and ours). The typical TV-movie style approach to this adds to the already great fun of having faded, hot, and upcoming stars play characters visiting the luxurious St. Gregory Hotel where the program is set.
The season premiere gets the guest-star fun to a good start with having "Newhart" star Mary Frann play the other side of an unhappy couple than she does in the (reviewed) second season. The second-season episode has Frann playing a woman with a husband who pursues the sister, played by Lauren Tewes of the similar Spelling series "The Love Boat," of Frann's character. The S3 episode has Frann playing a married physician in town for a medical convention who plays doctor with a married architect whom Ken Howard of the '70s drama "The White Shadow" portrays. One truism that this (and many other similar "Hotel" plots) support is that engaging in adultery at the St. Gregory is almost certain to ensure your spouse walking in on you and your special friend during an intimate moment.
The season premiere additionally has "Dallas" good-guy Patrick Duffy play against type as a psychotic man with three personalities, one of which is involved with St. Gregory executive assistant Christine Francis. A fun aside regarding Francis portrayor Connie "Mrs. Hinkley" Selleca is that she rumor has it that she has a habit of taking more than her share of hotel amenities while traveling.
A "Hotel" episode a couple of weeks later in the season hits a classic sitcom trifecta by having Audrey Meadows of "The Honeymooners" play a wealthy widow who takes up with an ex-con played by "Green Acres" star "Eddie Albert" after hitting him with her car. Frann's "Newhart" co-star Tom Poston plays the buddy of the unfortunately incarcerated accident victim.
The aforementioned "very special" episodes are almost to numerous to mention. They start out with one in which Marion Ross of "Happy Days" plays a woman who is fighting the efforts of a stable and loving gay couple to adopt the young orphaned niece of Ross' character.
Other special episodes have the St. Gregory staff deal with one of their own being raped in her home, another St. Gregory employee being diagnosed with AIDS, Dick Van Patten of "Eight is Enough" playing a bellman who may be past his prime, Timothy Busfield of "Thirtysomething" and Melissa Sue Anderson of "Little House on the Prairie" as a mentally challenged couple asserting their independence, etc.
This is also the season in which the simmering romance between Francis and hotel manager/boss Peter McDermott, played by James "Mr. Streisand" Brolin, heats up. In typical Spelling fashion, a dramatic accident provides the catalyst for the workplace romance to move forward.
The most special elements of this season and the four others in the Visual set is that it fulfills the noble DVD purpose of providing a chance to watch a good (but not widely syndicated) show from the past. More specifically, "Hotel" represents a good middle ground between the lighter tone of the Spelling '70s Saturday night staples "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" and his '80s primetime soap "Dynasty."
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hotel" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.