Dazzle (1995)

It feels like ages ago that we last met up with a Judith Krantz miniseries.  Let’s see, I think it was “Mistral’s Daughter,” a period piece with a moody Stacey Keach and a very robust excited Stefanie Powers.  Now we have “Dazzle,” the last network miniseries based on a Judith Krantz novel, but this one takes place in the present with neither moodiness, robustness or excitement. 

“Dazzle” is another example of the American miniseries rotting, or having rotted.  Where so many of Krantz’s books were given enormous productions, by 1995, we’re stuck with a simple two-nighter that is downright sloppy.  Poorly cast and badly acted, it’s no more than a featherweight soap.  In itself, being soapy is not a miniseries crime, but “Dazzle” has not a shred of humor in it, which leaves us merely jumping from one catastrophe to another.  That can get pretty tiring very quickly. 

If you feel like it, you can watch Judith’s introduction to the miniseries, but I warn you, she’s gotten older and even more dedicated to her own books in the decade since “Mistral’s Daughter.”  You can also see just how successful too as the camera swoops inside her mansion from over the pool and the manicured shrubbery.

Once the movie begins, do not try to adjust your television sets.  The hazy focus is there on purpose.  By 1985, there were no ingenues left, but someone had to play one.  It might as well be Lisa Hartman Black, about 20 years on from “Tabitha” and 15 years from the “Valley of the Dolls” remake.

Thin and sexy, Lisa is “Jazz Kilkullen,” a celebrity photographer who runs the “Dazzle” studio (wow, only a minute in and we have a use for the title).  She glides into the office as the news talks about a recent Los Angeles earthquake, with “aftershocks expected.”  Lisa’s subject today is Alistair Duncan, a publisher apparently handsome enough that everyone else thought he was a movie star.  Oh, he’s done his research on Lisa, reeling off that she’s a “ranch owner, heartbreaker, mankiller.”  I’m hooked.

And she immediately lives up to her reputation.  She has some ideas of what he should wear for the shoot, but boils it all down to, “why don’t you just put on the trench coat and take everything else off…I think it could be interesting, you wanted sexy.”  “And what are you going to take off?” he asks.  “My lens cover.”  Oooohhhh, the vixen!  She then shoots him in almost total darkness as he slumps in a leather trench coat making passes at her.  The moment he grabs her and she rebuffs him, an aftershock hits.  She makes it seem worse than it is, sending him scurrying out in just his pants.  Having worked a total of 15 minutes, Lisa is off to visit her family for the weekend.

Lisa’s family owns a gigantic ranch bitter than many an East Coast state, run by Papa Cliff Robertson (only the first of our slummers, that Oscar of his nowhere in sight, performance-wise), who admonishes his daughter for wanting a rock ‘n’ roll bad at the fete as “that is unbridled cacophony.”  Well, isn’t he Mr. Fancy Pants!  Next up, “you given any thought to that old biological clock?”  Yup, just like that.  You see, he has three daughters, and he wants to see the next generation.  So we understand that it’s a good place, there are not only a heap of young Mexican children running around happily, but a great big cross in the living room.

Actually, it makes sense for Linda Evans to be the matriarch here.  She and Lisa could be mother and daughter.  Wait, I think it’s Linda Evans.  I mean, that’s what the cast list says, but honestly, there is more Vaseline on the lens than Lucy got in “Mame,” so it’s very hard to see if it’s REALLY Linda Evans.  Slave to shoulder pads, even her robe has enhancements.  But she’s trouble.  “Do you really think it’s the right time?” she asks Cliff.  What her worry is, I guess we’ll find out.  I assume someone is dying, but I could be wrong. 

With the Mariachi band in full swing, the sisters show up.  Lisa Eilbacher, long past her sweetheart days in “Monte Carlo” and “War and Remembrance” is the slutty sister baring her midriff, the one who gets out of her limo and immediately sizes up a man in front of his wife.  The other sister is the more repressed Kim Ulrich.

Lisa, fetching in what we’re told is a vintage 1930s gown, wanders into the party with Mom, wearing one of her more casual “Dynasty” outfits, as Linda whines about whether or not to take a new acting part that would require her to be in Paris in a few days.  “Twenty-five years ago, I was the new Ingrid Bergman,” she says wistfully.  I can only guess it’s because her character has a Scandinavian maiden name, because there is nothing else that could POSSIBLY tie those two together!  We get a bit more of the drama because Linda hasn’t told Cliff yet. 

Rounding out the has-beens and never-weres are married couple James Farentino and June Chadwick, the latter of whom expressed such delight at the “pretty costumes” of the natives as Linda gives her a bit of family history.  It seems that James keeps June “hidden away,” though she prefers to think of it as, “well, sometimes he can’t find me.”

Start the fireworks, because here comes the love plot!  The sledgehammers who hobbled together this script have made damn sure we don’t miss it.  Mop-topped Bruce Greenwood, “looking up at the stars,” walks right into Lisa and spills his food all over her vintage gown and heirloom shawl.  She’s awfully huffy, but he tells her to “get some perspective, this isn’t the Exxon Valdez.”  For those of you unfamiliar with the 1990s, Exxon Val…oh, look it up, it was a gigantic oil spill, not red sauce on the back of a gown.  But, as we well know, miniseries squabblers end up miniseries lovers.  She sees his Exxon Valdez and raises him a Hurricane Andrew.  So smart, these two.

It’s tough to change outfits when sister Lisa E is about to do the young military stud she picked out the minute she showed up.  “Why my room?” Lisa H. wants to know.  “Because my room was locked.”  Va va va voom, Lisa H. returns to the party in what most people would describe as a slip.  Cliff calls Bruce over to introduce them and he spills wine on her new outfit.  Lisa slumps off with a groan that would make Oscar the Grouch proud.

Linda finally confesses to Cliff that she’s going to France for the acting job.  The scene is played in the dark, presumably because Linda’s contract made it so.

Lisa E and Kim are not Linda’s children.  They belong to Cliff’s first wive, Dixie Carter (yes, slumming, Dixie always deserved better).  Dixie has lunch in Beverly Hills (sniffing that it’s “getting as exclusive as Paris”) with Lisa E and Kim, having to admit that her business as a party planner is not going well because “all of my clients…are gone.”  Dixie seems to have no love lost when it comes to Lisa H.  She believes that Lisa H cozies up to Cliff “to be the son he never had,” thus the one to inherit the ranch.  Oh, and Lisa E has a gigolo, Michael Easton, the kind who grabs her hair and asks “have you been a good girl?”

Banker James Farentino pays a visit to B.D. Wong (perhaps the most unlikely actor to appear in a Judith Krantz miniseries), a movie producer of “chopped sake” pictures who has money to burn before Hong Kong changes hands (a few years in the future, but hey, he’s a planner).  James has Kilkullen Ranch on his menu of offerings, apparently because the ranch has fallen on hard times.  “Land is the only thing that counts,” James says, ripping off every novel and/or movie set in the 19th Century.  He wants to make sure B.D. takes the bait because “foreclosure is imminent” on the ranch and he refuses to be left without the money.  James then meets with Cliff and Lisa H, urging him to sell, but Cliff seems sees through James’ scheming.  After assuring Cliff that the new owners of the ranch will not turn it into a development, Cliff leaves in a huff, telling James, “I was wrong, you have developed something.  A large pain in my ass!” 

When father and daughter return to the ranch that evening, Lisa Hartman does something I bet she never expected to do in her career, tend to a dying cow.  A whole bunch of Cliff’s cows have been shot.  Someone is sending a message.  Brushing a horse, far more her style, she is found by Bruce, to whom she apologizes, so he invites her to dinner.  At that dinner, they find out more about each other.  Bruce was born on a ranch, but “after college, got sidetracked to Wall Street,” but wants back in because “it’s in my blood.”  Cow patties and all.  Lisa offers Bruce only a chaste kiss goodnight at her door.

James’ scheming leads him to a liquid lunch with Dixie, who can be bought for martinis and still thinks of herself as “a Savannah debutante.”  Coincidentally, right after that scene, Lisa is offered “half an issue” of French Vogue, which would keep her out of the country for a while.  “I paid my dues,” she tells her assistant, refusing to do fashion photography again.  She then runs the project by Cliff, expressing her worries, but he tells her to go. 

We’re in Paris.  We know that because the first thing we see is the Eiffel Tower and we hear accordion music.  After dealing with snooty models and cigarettes, Lisa huffs, “this is why I hate fashion work.”  She’s busy snapping shots (of models standing with men dresses in riot gear), and a bicycle race is about to mow her down, so Jeffrey Meek, with a broad smile before he does it, as if it were planned, pushes her out of the way, assessing her camera to be okay.  “You almost destroyed a beautiful piece of equipment,” he tells her, speaking of the camera.  Wait, French Vogue didn’t close off this area of the park for the shoot?  I see.  “He’s about the greatest photo journalist in the world,” Lisa is told.  He apparently won a Pulitzer for his work in Tiannamen Square, another nod to the characters knowing their news! 

Jeffrey tries to talk to Lisa and they banter.  As we learned only a few scenes ago, that leads to love!  “Don’t you have a war to go cover?” she wryly asks.  “It seems we have a pretty good war right here,” he replies, the movie’s best line.  He gives her a flyer for his upcoming show, collects his model girlfriend and they separate. 

Don’t forget Linda is in France shooting her movie, not showing any emotion upon meeting her suave leading man, Gerard Ismael.  She actually falls for his oily lines, telling him, “I do believe I’m going to enjoy working with you.” 

Lisa takes Lee Purcell with her to the opening of Jeffrey’s show.  Lisa finds the work “special.”  “He’s special and dangerous,” Lee warns her and dashes off.  Jeffrey spots Lisa from across the room and gets that grin again.  They share a moment over one of Jeffrey’s sadder photos and then apologize to each other.  He invites her to leave the party (being his party, I guess he can do that), and they share a wine in the back room, where Lisa reminds him they have met before, at a lecture he gave when she was a student.  “You offered to buy me a drink and I refused,” she reminds him.  “Why?” he says wistfully, but she was young.  Unfortunately, his model girlfriend invades the room and Lisa leaves. 

The next day, Lisa shoots again, this time models in front of burning cars with revolutionaries dresses as mechanics raving red flags.  If that sounds like a dream you want explained by your analyst, I can understand.  What it’s doing here, I can’t.  The model is late, so they have to stop the shoot.  When she arrives, she claims she and Jeffrey were up “all night…you know how he can be.”  Actually, Lisa doesn’t.  They haven’t spent a night together.  Lisa fires the saucy model, though the model sasses that Lisa is simply jealous.  Lisa storms over to Jeffrey’s hotel room (he is obviously a real artist, because he stays in a fleabag joint) to tell him to “stay away from my models,” but he says he wasn’t with the model, that she went off with the movie producer after the exhibit.  Oops.  On top of that, he’s saved the photo that Lisa liked best and presents it to her, which make her “feel really stupid.”  Oh, just that?  The concierge rings to ask if Lisa’s driver should stay, and of course he’s sent home.  He says that he does remember the first time they met.  “I’ve been carrying that memory with me for a long time,” he whispers before they kiss.  You go, Lisa!  A man in California, a man in France!  Of course, Bruce didn’t get this far with her, but Jeffrey has the advantage of Paris.

Finally, Lisa remembers her mother is in France, so she takes nervous Jeffrey to meet her.  Lisa gives her a little history on the way, that Linda was often away, but when she was home, “she made magic” though domestic arts.  She’s so well-rounded, our Linda, who even took her out for ice cream.  However, perfect, Linda is not.  When Lisa shows up in her dressing room (which has a paper sign with Linda’s character’s name on it–real fancy), Linda is making out with Gerard, so Lisa dashes out.  “I don’t know what to say,” Linda tells her daughter when she puts on a gigantic oversized outfit with shoulder pads in every layer.  “Is he the first?” Lisa asks.  “They are just location romances,” she rationalizes, since “none outlasted the film,” and she only has them on shoots.  Furthermore, she’s wanted “to feel young and alive.”  How about plastic surgery instead?  Oh, wait, I guess that’s not young and alive enough.  Lisa forgives her, naturally.  Gerard has to be told, and he’s a sport about it, kissing a shoulder pad as he walks out.

When Jeffrey finds Lisa in the tub, it’s an excuse for one of those corny sex scenes that thinks it’s erotic, but is really horribly lame.  Jeffrey pours red wine on Lisa and licks it off to violin music, then removes his shirt and it ends.  Thankfully.  Then it’s just bed-bound talk with hundreds of candles around.  It’s interrupted by Linda, on her way back to Paris, saying, “I long to see you,” to her daughter.  If she were the hero in a Jane Austen novel, that would sound contemporary. 

Instead, she hops in her car, the only movie star in history without a driver.  It overheats, so she decides it’s a wise idea to walk through a tunnel to get to Paris on a foggy night as a truck barrel towards her.

The news reporter who tells France of Linda’s death (in English) notes that she was the daughter of an actress “at the Comedie Francaise.”  That’s something we didn’t know!  The family gathers in France for the funeral.  Photographers snap pictures of Gerard taking obviously staged pictures of Gerard at the casket (staged by Gerard himself, I mean). 

Lisa E and Kim have brought Dixie to Paris, though she had to watch the funeral on TV.  “I hope you rose to the occasion,” she tells Kim, “lots of sympathy, lots of love.”  But, Kim is still angry that Lisa H got to be Dad’s rock.  Well, to be fair, it was her mother!  Kim is also upset because Lisa H has become “a prisoner of love” to Jeffrey, which drinking Dixie dismisses.

Lisa H decides to stay in France, must to the consternation of Cliff and Bruce.  Cliff is worried about the “vandalism on the ranch,” but Bruce is upset that Lisa isn’t coming back and “might marry this guy.”  Wait, vandalism?  People are shooting cows, not spray painting gang initials on the barn door!  James and Dixie have another lunch, where she insists on meeting B.D. because she “wants a piece of the action” when the ranch is inevitably taken from Cliff. 

Things go from bad to worse.  Cliff hears hooligans and sees them, but as he tries to follow them, the well to which they attached bombs falls over and stops Cliff’s car.  He escapes with a broken arm and a whole lot of anger, which he aims at James and his “clients.”  “You tell ’em to keep on trying to kill me, bring a whole army, kill all my cattle, tear up the whole ranch, but they’ll never get my land!” he makes clear.  And furthermore, when he dies, he’s leaving the ranch to the state, which makes James mighty unhappy.  B.D. is not afraid.  “One man’s will must not prevail,” he says confidently, urging James to find another way to scare Cliff into selling.

Back to Paris, because of the accordions and famous buildings.  Everyone has an angle.  While Lisa H is off buying flowers, the model shows up at Jeffrey’s apartment to ask him for money because she believes Lisa has blacklisted her.  She goes into the bathroom, leaving her underwear, takes the money and departs just as Lisa walks in.  When they find the underwear, Jeffrey calls the model “a crazy bitch,” and Lisa assumes, as the model wanted her to, that they slept together.  He sputters some excuses, which Lisa doesn’t buy, but then he hits her with the big one: “I am totally, completely in love with you.”  He even proposes, and of course she accepts. 

That means they have to head to the ranch, and Jeffrey immediately falls in love with it from his helicopter vantage point. His meeting Bruce should be interesting.  That happens in the next scene, where Bruce finds Jeffrey and Lisa dancing in the dark.  Bruce feigns happiness, but it’s obvious he has feelings for her.  Even Jeffrey notices it.  Jeffrey actually asks Bruce about it two scenes later, when he’s plastered, having been to a memorial service for a colleague.  Not only does he ask Bruce if he has feelings for Lisa, but he also asks if he’s badmouthing him to Lisa.  “You tried to tell her I’m a worthless son-of-a-bitch,” he says, to which Bruce replies, “you said it, I didn’t.”  This starts a macho brawl on the lawn, stopped only when Lisa intervenes. 

Wedding day!  Nervous, Lisa goes to recline in the grass in a pose that would be very Playboy if Lisa were wearing less.  Cliff discovers here there and they have their umpteenth father-daughter bonding moment.  She even gets a cute case of the hiccups, but Cliff and Lee find even that cute!  All the guests arrive and everyone is waiting, but Cliff has not returned from Los Angeles with Jeffrey, who sends word via one of Lisa’s employees that he’s leaving for Rome.  Lisa makes it to the airport and Jeffrey’s gate faster than the speed of light.  She makes it, only to hear that Jeffrey can’t go through with marriage because “I’ll never be any good at it,” that he wants to trot the globe doing what he’s always done.  Lisa, though upset, is characteristically sanguine: “You go find a war…real life is too hard for you!”

Just when things seem as bad as they can be, we know they will get worse in a miniseries.  Cliff, who had taken the helicopter to fetch Jeffrey, has crashed.  Poor Lisa, second parent dead in one episode!  James breaks the news to Dixie, who plays the scene in full 40s style, in a negligee with a single tear.  June phones Lisa E with her sympathy and James cracks, “that sounded real sincere,” and tells her to stay close to her as “it is essential we keep them on our side.”  Michael wants to toast “our first million” with Lisa E, but she slaps the drink out of his hand. 

And that would leave us with a will reading.  He has left the house to Lisa H, she is allowed to run it, but all three daughters get a third of the ranch.  Unfortunately, he was unable to leave the ranch to the state as promised because he died too soon.  Lisa E and Kim are downright nasty about the whole thing, with more than a few nasty moments.  “This is a bad will, hasty, stubborn…worse, he assumed the three of you could all agree,” the lawyer tells Lisa H after the other two leave in a huff. 

Lisa doesn’t believe the official report of “mechanical malfunction,” telling Bruce it was no accident and fits in with the pattern of bad things happening to the ranch.  When she finally goes back to work, Lisa is clearly not ready, first biting the head off her agent, Natalia Nogulich.  She seems pretty distracted as she has a session with a bunch of Asian children.  Alistair shows up to request her company in Malibu, but she turns him down. 

Sister Kim and her gorgon of a mother Dixie are waiting for Lisa when she gets home, telling her the house is a mess, the furniture needs to be replaced, etc.  Dixie brings up James’ name as someone they should talk to and the fact that Lisa can’t make any decisions without her sisters.  Bruce tells her to get a lawyer, but Lisa says “it’s just something the three of us have to work out.”  She begs Bruce to stay, and he tells her, “you’ve got me as long as the ranch is here.”  Battle lines are drawn!

“‘Dazzle'” is not shining so bright anymore,” Natalia tells Jeffrey, back in LA after not nearly enough time away from the movie (if this were ten years earlier, he would have been gone so long, we would have forgotten him, but here, we’re stuck with him).  She says Lisa is busy at the ranch and there is mayhem.  But, if he would run it, maybe it could be put back on track.  “Have you ever thought about taking it easy, cashing it in?” she asks him, dangling lots of money in his face. 

Showdown time.  Lisa, her sisters, Michael, James, B.D. and assorted extras gather at B.D.’s palatial manse.  Everyone but Lisa H is ready to make a deal (that will also net Dixie a ton of money, though she’s not allowed to be at the meeting).  James starts the meeting by saying that “I’m not sure how much longer my bank can wait for the loan to be paid” and B.D. is afraid the Communists will take over Hong Kong before the official takeover.  After B.D. offer billions, they show her plans to turn the ranch into “the most exclusive residential complex in the world.”  He even compares it to Monte Carlo.  “No home would be worth less than $10 million,” he says, with B.D. piping in security would be extra tight.  “Total refuge from all the dangers of the rotten world,” James adds, and B.D., way ahead of his time, says it will be environmentally friendly.  The scene is pretty boring because you know where it’s heading from the onset, so the fun comes from watching who gets the soft gels and who doesn’t.  It’s ridiculous, as if no two people in the scene were shot at the same time and had to be edited together.  “I have this violent need to throw up over this very expensive carpet,” Lisa snaps as everyone asks what she thinks. 

“You have a moral obligation,” to hear everyone out, Kim tells Lisa after she bolts the meeting.  A moral obligation?  That doesn’t even make any sense!  “This is one time you are not going to get your way…I promise you,” Kim shrieks as Lisa drives away.  Yikes, this is going to get ugly!  The way she explains it to Bruce is, “sell now and get filthy rich or fight and get scalped by lawyers fees.”  Bruce assures her, “we’ll be ’em.”  “We?”  “We, you and me, I promise,” he assures her.  Then her knight in shining armor (and long hair) gets a bigger kiss.  But, he’s not invited to stay. 

This is a surprise: Alistair is actually working for B.D.  “All of the elements are in place except for her.  Use your imagination, she’s the only obstacle I have left.  Make life difficult for her.  It’s the plot of every chop sake picture every made,” he tells the goofy Brit.  “Do the good guys always win?”  “Don’t be naive, this is the real world.  We win,” he’s told. 

Natalia has called a meeting of everyone at “Dazzle.”  She announces that a new photographer wants to come on board, “someone that will give ‘Dazzle’ a lift,” and that man is Jeffrey!  Lisa objects, though the decision is actually not hers alone, as she has two partners (ah, symmetry with her other plot, eh?), and snaps to Natalia, “if you rep him, I’m leaving.  It’s your choice.” 

James’ wife June is an antiques dealer and when Lisa E and Michael come to her shop, June invites them for tea and scones.  Michael declines, but Lisa E says, “I’ve never resisted a scone,” the movie’s oddest line.  It looks like James is getting his way through his wife. 

Ugh, Jeffrey bounces over to Lisa’s apartment to see her for the first time since their aborted wedding.  “So, what’s up?” Lisa asks, pretending nonchalance.  He starts one sentence with how Natalia nabbed him to come on board, but ends it with “you can’t tell me that you forgot about Paris.”  Oh, no?  I can!  I haven’t been successful, but I’ve tried!  She asks him to leave, but he kisses her and wears down her resistance very quickly.  However, she does tell him she can’t trust him, “you finally proved you don’t have the power over me anymore.  I don’t care if you work at ‘Dazzle.'”  She’s had four changes of heart during this scene and he’s spoken in whispers the whole time.  That kind of confusion only means there will be plenty more of these scenes to follow. 

Not that good at what he’s being paid to do, Alistair keeps making a nuisance of himself at “Dazzle.”  We know what is going to happen because there is a top secret automobile prototype in the studio to be shot and Alistair keeps trying to find out what it is, but getting there seems to be quite an arduous bit of plotting.  “You won’t let me seduce you, how about coming to work for me?” he asks, after begging for yet another date.  He tosses out every perk he can think of, but her replay is “not even in your next life.”  Ouch!

Natalia gets less likeable with every scene.  She tells Lisa that apparently Japan went cuckoo for her photographs of those Asian kids and she’s been offered a book deal, but Lisa wants to stay put.  “One of these days, you’re going to have to decide if you want to be a photographer or a rancher,” Natalia says, no doubt praying for the former for her 10%.  And then she comes out a room giggling with Jeffrey without her jacket on.  Jeffrey swears he and Natalia aren’t doing anything suspect.

June believes that Lisa E shouldn’t be married to a doofus like Michael, but opines that he must be good in bed.  “Beds, bathtubs, chandeliers, you name it, I can’t blame him here,” Lisa E jokes, but then gets serious and admits she’s never been in love.  June confesses that she doesn’t love James, and only married him “for protection,” and the backstory is rushed off in a sentence.  But June knows what she’s doing, asking Lisa E what would have happened if her father had born a son.  Ah, there wouldn’t be any of the current issues, perhaps!  Apparently Lisa E never bothered to think of that before.

A bus carrying Kilkullen Ranch laborers goes off the road and slews of them are taken to the hospital, but apparently a hospital only for Spanish-speakers as we see the “Emergencia” sign.  Bruce heroically brings in the patients himself, cut up and bruised as well.  But, he’s only upset that Lisa never told him Jeffrey was back, for a few months now!  She claims she forgot, but he’s not buying it.  When they go to investigate the crash site, Lisa is convinced it’s sabotage and convinced James Farentino is behind it, though the police don’t buy that.  It seems nothing Lisa can say is for sale!  She then hightails it to James’ bank and threatens him big time.

Dixie is having trouble keeping her daughters in line.  You see, Lisa E is developing a soft spot, admitting that perhaps Lisa H should have the ranch because she grew up there and “it’s her way of keeping father alive.”  “Your sentimentality is as fake as your hair color,” Kim snaps.  Dixie insists that James is “our financial savior” and she will allow no hitches in the plan!  June calls right then and invites Lisa E to dinner, giving off lesbian vibes big time.

Yes, you guessed it.  Alistair leaked the photos of the car and the exec blows up.  Alistair admits it, but this could bring down “Dazzle” and all of the partners, including Natalia and Jeffrey are rather unforgiving. 

Over a nightcap, June talks loving of a girl in boarding school, and we have confirmation.  She tells Lisa E it was “pure love.”  There’s the story of the first kiss, which doesn’t shoot off firecrackers in her brain because she’s not so bright.  With the words, “until I met you,” Lisa E finally realizes she’s being hit on (she’s not very bright).  “You’ve never found the right man,” June reminds Lisa E, as if a series of Mr. Wrongs means a gal is a lesbian.  “What harm could it do just to try it once with me?” June asks, stroking Lisa E’s cheek.  It obviously keeps happening enough that Michael gets suspicious and follows Lisa E to a boat where she is greeted by June with a big hug and a tiny kiss.  See, switching teams wasn’t so hard, now was it?  Since June is so in love, she confesses James’ plan to Lisa E, but swearing “my feelings about you are true.”  Lisa E storms out with June running behind her crying and begging, “don’t leave me!”  Michael forces Lisa E into his car, where she demands a divorce.  “You want your divorce?  I’ll give you your divorce in hell,” he seethes as he smacks her.  Their physical fighting almost causes an accident, so Michael literally dumps her out of the car and speeds off. 

Just as Lisa and Bruce are about to enjoy a candlelit dinner on a romantic stormy night, there is a knock at the door and a policewoman brings in terrified soaked Lisa E, caked with blood and bruised up and down.  “Thanks for not asking a lot of questions,” Lisa E tells her half sister, also admitted, “this is the only place I wanted to come.”  Lisa reminds her, “this is as much your home as it is mine.”  It looks like it’s two sisters against one, and one lush stepmother. 

From Lisa E, Lisa goes to Bruce, telling him she’s cold and she wants to get into bed.  Oh, and she wants a kiss.  “If that’s all you wanted, why are you in my bed?” Bruce asks, a fair question to be sure.  Yes, she also wants that.  We’ve been waiting for this minute ever since he spilled his food on her vintage dress.  Cue the violins, but don’t worry, we don’t see the sex.  Heaven forbid.  As usual, the miniseries is sexless, no doubt for all the nuns and kids under 12 who watched them.  Even sappier, their next scene (the villains have the scene in between) finds them walking their horses when Bruce proposes to her and she accepts.

When Dixie hears about Lisa E’s beating, she uses it as an opportunity to needle Lisa H.  She claims Lisa H is brainwashing the other Lisa.  “What gives you the right to prevent your own sisters from having what is rightfully theirs?” she demands to know.  Lisa is not happy with that, but doesn’t get a chance to say anything because Dixie keeps rolling along, nothing how much of a fool Cliff was and that “the only good thing he ever did was die.”  With that, Lisa E emerges from hiding behind the door and takes her mother from the room lest Lisa tries to kill the witch. 

Worm-like Alistair tries one last time to woo Lisa, and once again, she’s not at all interested.  But, he does tell her how he got the pictures of the prototype car: Natalia!  Lisa and her partners fire her, but she says exactly what you would expect her to say.  “See how far you get without me.”  Alistair reports back to B.D. that “‘Dazzle’ is finished.”  He’s not wrong, because Lisa tells Jeffrey all of their clients have canceled and “there are no bookings in sight.”  The auto mogul has spread the word quickly.  He tries to make woo and she informs him she’s getting married.

Just as Jeffrey is processing the latter, a car comes out of nowhere and tries to run them down.  Lisa isn’t very good at the chase thing.  She falls and then she hides in a tiny little car next to a wall, which can easily be rammed by the mysterious big window-tinted car.  The driver is pretty bad too, crashing into a railing and passing out.  Who is it?  Michael, of course!  That’s hardly suspenseful because we saw him in that car earlier.  Lisa E shows up in just enough time to have Michael whisper in her ear before he dies.  “Father’s death wasn’t an accident,” Lisa E tells Lisa, “he sabotaged the helicopter.”  It was James who “put him up to it.”  That rat is caught at the airport trying to flee the country because I guess all the police need to arrest someone is a deathbed confession.  Proof?  Pish posh!

Dixie is only worried about the deal.  She feels it can still go through even without James.  The woman is desperate for her money!  Lisa E also tells Kim that Michael has more to say (as he was dying).  He fingered Dixie as getting a “finder’s fee” from James.  “You took a commission on us?” carps an indignant Kim.  Dixie then delivers a corker of a monologue, but her daughters are now both squarely against her. 

Lisa summons her sisters to the ranch “because I want you to feel something and you can only feel it here.”  Huh?  Well, I guess since we’re moments from the end, a last-minute change of heart for Kim is expected.  Lisa has a plan.  You see, they only need a part of the ranch for grazing, so they can still build something, just not what the villains had in mind.  Get this: “We could develop a new town, an urban village, like the old days, like it was in San Luis Capistrano.  With real neighborhoods.”  Jeepers, that’s a big project!  But, of course her motives are pure.  She’s not doing it for the money, but to SPEND the money they have doing it because “it’s not like we can’t afford it.” 

The house that B.D. owns has such wonderful ethereal lighting.  It’s hard to figure out how many people are in the room when Dixie, out of desperation, goes to B.D. and tells him there’s still a chance, that somehow they can convince Lisa to sell, oh, and that she expects a bigger commission.  B.D. knows when he’s licked.  “I think it’s time we took our money and moved on,” he tells Dixie

Wedding day!  Again!  There is good news as the crowd gathers.  Lisa E and Kim, who sport the two ugliest bridesmaids dresses (the costume designer out to be shot, but everyone should take comfort in the fact that no matter how much you hate those bridesmaids dresses you have been forced to wear, there is something out there even more atrocious), inform Lisa that they will not sell their pieces of the ranch.  Jeffrey shows up, uninvited, determined to get her back and to give her a music box to “remember that I’m always there.”  That’s a total regift!  Where would Jeffrey even know where to get a music box and there has been no indication anywhere that Lisa even likes them!  She hands it back to him, saying it represents the past and she doesn’t want it.  Time to regift again.  The intrepid photographer walks out very slowly, as if he’s getting paid by the second.  There is a happy ending when Bruce and Lisa marry and kiss heatedly for the adoring friends and family assembled. 

There it is, but I think it should be called “Fizzle” instead of “Dazzle.”  There are two problems here, and both of them doom “Dazzle” from the start.  It’s very cheap and it’s very poorly cast.  There is nothing about Lisa Hartman that says “ranch owner,” except the too-tight jeans she wears.  She has two totally unappealing leading men, and even the villains are boring.  No wonder it was the last Judith Krantz novel turned into a miniseries!  It’s stupid enough to derail even Judith’s train, which up until “Dazzle” was always filled with big expensive productions, no matter how cheesy the plots. 

Categories: Romance Miniseries

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