Picks and Pans Review: The Ratings Game

updated 12/17/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/17/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Movie Channel (Saturday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m. ET)

Danny (Taxi) De Vito directs and stars in a parody of the TV biz. He's a tacky little trucker from New Jersey who sells terrible shows to a failing network called MBC. Much of the parody fits the networks like a glove: MBC's shows include H.O.T.B.O.D.S., with underclad female CIA agents going undercover as aerobics instructors; Dawn Patrol, about "the hopes, dreams and fears of a big-city sanitation crew"; and Gimme 5, with a puny but precocious black kid as its star. De Vito's creations include Nunzio's Girls, about a Jersey pimp. And there are takeoffs on Entertainment Tonight, chic L.A. restaurants and corporate management (a network boss fires his executives via videotape). So the satire works well. But then there's the problem of the plot: It's silly unto just plain stupid. To make his shows look like hits, De Vito teams up with his TV girlfriend and real-life wife, Rhea (Cheers) Perl-man, to rig the ratings, sending 100 Nielsen-like families on a 22-week cruise while mobsters move in to watch their monitored TVs. In the end the parody sinks to the level of what it's parodying.

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