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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

'Hotel' S5: Five Stars for Final Season

Product Details
These musings regarding the 5th and final season of the '80s Aaron Spelling celebrity guest star-driven series "Hotel" wraps up this series of reviews of the Visual Entertainment complete series DVD set of the program. (The reviews on the Visual CS DVD set of the five-season '90s sitcom "Grace Under Fire" are expected to wrap up soon.)

An initial note regarding these final 17 episodes is that the first two appear out of order in the set. We see hard-working bellman Eric Lloyd, played by Ty Miller who goes on to star in the Unreal TV reviewed Western series "Young Guns," dashing around the St. Gregory in San Francisco before getting his back story. The same goes for other new members of the staff. These include new reservations clerk/resident yenta Cheryl, played by Valerie Landsburg of the "Fame" television series. (As an aside, the S5 guests stars include "Fame" co-star Albert Hague.)

This finale season further sees big changes for the faces who have been there from the beginning. The most significant of these occur regarding married hotel workers Megan and Dave and repeatedly on-again-off-again hotel executives Peter McDermott, played by James "Mr. Streisand" Brolin, and Christine Francis, played by Connie "Mrs. Hinkley" Sellecca. The effectively two-part series finale provides a mix of conclusion and ambiguity regarding the future of Petie.

This season premiere also continues the increasing trend of the series to recruit actors from primetime soaps as "Hotel" guest stars. This one has Ted Shackleford of "Knot's Landing" hire an asserted psychic played by Ginger Rogers, who is among the gaggle of faded movie stars who appear on "Hotel," to contact his dead  wife, Another early episode has Tracy Scoggins of the Spelling sudsers "Dynasty" and "The Colbys" playing a rookie escort who works for a service that a "respectable businesswoman" whom Kate Mulgrew portrays operates from the hotel. The appearance of Mulgrew during the listing of guest stars in the opening credits prompting a chant of "Janeway, Janeway, Janeway" illustrates much of the fun of "Hotel."

The daytime soap star guests in S5 include dreamy soap hunk Vincent Irizarry as a scorned lover of a married woman; his perverse (and perverted) revenge scheme is pure campy joy.

The Christmas episode departs from the formula of the show by splitting the time between having stranded off-again couple McDermott and Francis try to get back to the titular lodging establishment and the folks back at the ranch welcome back special old friends. In true "Hotel" style, these guests arrive with a great deal of emotional baggage.

The final few episodes of the series also slightly break from "Hotel" tradition in a manner that is more true to the Spelling "Love Boat" formula. These outings have hotel employees get more closely involved with the drama in the lives of the guests. A prime example of this is an issues-oriented plot that involves date rape,

Another "very special" episode can be thought of as "Still Krause." This one has Inga Swenson of the '80s sitcom "Benson" as a 51 year-old guest with early onset Alzheimer's.

The fifth season additionally includes arguably the best episode in the entire series. Tippi Hedren, who is one of "Hitchcock's blondes," guest stars as an upper-middle-aged woman who is convinced both that she is a witness to a murder in the hotel and that the malfeasor is menacing her. The only problems are that there is no proof of either the foul deed or the alleged subsequent threats.

The icing on the cake in this outstanding episode is a parallel story in which '70s soft rock legend Gordon Lightfoot plays a washed-up alcoholic country music star. He arrives at the St. Gregory a few days before a scheduled comeback concert there. Matthew Labyorteaux of the '70s family drama "Little House on the Prairie" adds extra cheese in his role as the estranged 20-something son of the singer. On spoiler is that, regarding the acting of Lightfoot, he is a decent singer.

The most awesome aspects of "Hotel" are that it ends the era of the Spelling weekly guest star series on a strong note and is an awesome reminder of the good old days in which fine lodging establishments (and society in general) valued positive experiences over the bottom line. It seems that even the top undergraduate business program in the country is abandoning the Dale Carnegie principles.

McDermott continuing to battle his effectively evil twin over cutting corners at the expense of the guests is a sad portent of what is to come in an era of skyrocketing rates at woefully understaffed hotels. Those of us who love big fluffy pillows and tiny bottles of high-end shampoo lament this trend.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hotel" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.