OK, folks, delicate subject here: Jackie Collins. I still have a hard time coping with her passing. In my eyes she was going to live forever. But moving on: the moment I found out that a three-part TV adaptation of her grandest oeuvre CHANCES was happening I got goosebumps all over. Finally after all these years someone has had the good sense to greenlight this project. The HOLLYWOOD WIVES miniseries was long gone and its proposed sequel HOLLYWOOD HUSBANDS never got made. So it was only natural that the next step should be bringing CHANCES to the small screen. Of course I had already read the novel and its sequel LUCKY on which this proposed miniseries was to be based. In my mind both books should have had separate identities but I was willing to accept whatever Hollywood had to offer.
When LUCKY/CHANCES finally aired on NBC in October of 1990 it came as no surprise that I was in heaven. Seeing it all materializing right before my eyes proved to me right then and there that indeed there was a God and her name was Jackie Collins. I finally could enjoy something that was right up my, and her, alley. I recently re-watched the miniseries and let me tell you that contrary to the reruns of TV’s SEX IN THE CITY it does age well despite a few noticeable flaws, starting with the overall look of the film. Oh don’t get me wrong, everything is glammed up to the hilt, whether the focus is on the swinging ‘20s, the flower-power era of the ‘60s or the glamourous days of the late ‘70s—early ‘80s. No, what I’m referring to is the prosthetic effects used on the actors to age them. I never realized how foamy and phony they all looked. They almost distracted me from all the drama: drug addictions, sexual situations, Machiavellian manipulations, you name it. And dead bodies, so many dead bodies: in the streets, in swimming pools, in exploding cars...
Make no mistake, I am all well aware that LUCKY/CHANCES is a direct rip-off of Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER with its tale of rival Mafiosos in Vegas that traces 40-some years, but to soap fans everywhere it’s still must-see TV. Nicollette Sheridan, fresh from her KNOTS LANDING days, gives it all she’s got as Lucky Santangelo—the mobster’s daughter who wants to prove her worth as a business woman—and comes out relatively unscathed. She may not be the greatest actress alive but she does have her moments in the lead. So do most of the cast like Grant Show, Michael Nouri, Audrey Landers and Sandra Bullock in one of her first roles. Of course they all look sensational with their chiseled faces and saccharine smiles. You do not venture into a Jackie Collins novel or a TV adaptation expecting any less.
What made me cringe a little, though, is realizing how stale and clichés some of that dialogue appears despite Collins having written the teleplay. Actor Vincent Irizarry barely helps either as kingpin and ladies’ man Gino Santangelo. His performance is as amateurish and stiff as that fake moustache he sports during the mini’s second half. But most of all I blame this on my advanced years which have made me more cynical towards what is supposed to be good or not. As camp appeal goes however LUCKY/CHANCES (as the HOLLYWOOD WIVES mini which has been too harsh a review on this blog) is by far one of the best thing to watch on TV besides THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS or THE ROYALS on E! It may be far from being artsy fartsy but, boy, does it deliver. Now, the only thing left to say is this: when is JACKIE COLLINS’ LUCKY/CHANCES coming to DVD in North America, Mr. Distributors? When?!!!
Click here to read all about its adapted sequel, the LADY BOSS miniseries.
Until next post—Martin