SEQUEL ALERT: Lace II (1985)

So far, we’ve avoided miniseries sequels, but I’m afraid we cannot do it any longer, folks.  In fact, they are nearly as old as the American miniseries itself.  Does anyone remember “Rich Man, Poor Man Book 2?”  It has neither the poor man nor the girlfriend and is pretty tough going, especially at 20 or so hours.  But, then there is “Roots: The Next Generation,” which is fantastic.  So, in the first few years of the movement, we got mixed signals on whether sequels were okay or not.

(for the original “Lace” go back to January 30 on this blog)

When it comes to “Lace II,” sequels are not okay.  “Lace II” is as brain-dead as they come.  “Lace” is utterly delightful in its dedication to camp.  Very few miniseries actually have lines that everyone knows, but who doesn’t know “which one of you bitches is my mother?”

“Lace II” tries to equal that line but you only strike gold once.  Having watched “Lace” many times, it never occurred to me to question the paternity of our leading vixen, because it was so much fun just figuring out the maternity.  Paternity questions are ho-hum.  The excitement of “Lace” was watching three teenagers (played by very mature actresses) hide a pregnancy not only from everyone they knew, but also from the story!  Even daytime soap operas couldn’t manage that one.  For many hours, we are forced to trudge along and find Phoebe’s father, a completely uninteresting tale that is not only daft in the telling, but re-invents things that happened in “Lace” very differently, as if we won’t remember.  Wouldn’t the only people watching “Lace II” be “Lace” fans?  They won’t forget, trust me!

And, “Lace II” is such a bad idea that the Bess Armstrong, revealed to be the bitch of a mother, passed on doing the sequel, in which her character is the clear lead!  From the moment she turned it down, everyone else should have also, but noooooooo, the rest are here.  “Lace II” has none of the lovable lunacy of the original and is in fact so inept as to be head-scratching.  But, that was 1980s American television greed, for you, just toss the product out there and hope for the best.

The credits unroll over a cloying pop song performed by Deniece “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” Williams as a humongous billboard of Phoebe Cates is painted over the Palace Theatre (home at that point to “La Cage Aux Folles”) in New York City. 

Phoebe is stressing over that night’s movie premiere.  “Mother, what am I going to do about my hair?” she asks Bess Arm…oh, right, she didn’t come back, asks Deborah Raffin (a sure sign of miniseries trouble) as non-moms Arielle Dombasle and Brooke Adams fuss over their outfits too.  Phoebe looks ridiculous in a clinging red number, but the fans are there to see her and they don’t care, all fourteen of them. 

Phoebe picks the premiere of her movie to tell the world Deborah is her mother.  That doesn’t sit well with Deborah’s parents, as her mother passes out upon hearing the news that “that floozy” is her granddaughter on TV.  Now, Phoebe and Deborah have not only forgiven each other the heartache and hell of “Lace,” but have such a good relationship that they sing about West Virginia together as they enter that state to visit Deborah’s parents, in matching white turbans, no less.  All we’ve ever known about Deborah’s character (or Bess’ in the original) is that she was American and went to a European private school.  She did not have a lesbian mother or drunken Aunt Hortense to liven things up (since they killed off Aunt Hortense in the first one, Angie Lansbury can’t help us out of this muck–not to worry, she did the sequel of “Rage of Angels”).

Therefore, we did not know that the very same West Virginia town that birthed famous magazine editor Deborah was also home to astronaut James Read (who has the distinction of being in TWO of the worst miniseries sequels–we’ll get to “North and South Book 3” eventually).  As the gals are driving into town, there is a parade in his honor, and the town is closed down, half-day, for the celebration.  “Banks too?” he says snidely, obviously unimpressed.  Reckless Phoebe literally drives into the parade, scattering it all over the place, to the consternation of the town fathers and bandleaders.  However, they get over it quickly when they realize it’s Phoebe, who gamely poses for pictures as old pals James and Deborah get re-acquainted.  “The movie star most men want to be on a desert island with and the astronaut most women want to be in orbit with,” the huckster mayor shouts as everyone crowds nearer.  Remember, this was before Buzz Aldrin did “Dancing With the Stars,” so astronauts still had cache. 

Deborah’s parents, Bruce Boa and Richena Carey, are quite a pair.  Imperious Richena allows no talk at dinner, until Deborah tries to break the ice.  After noting that she’s illegitimate, thanks, Phoebe starts to get a little snide.  Richena says, “well, it’s terrible to admit,” as everyone braces for the worst, “but I’ve never seen any of your movies.”  Relief!  Bruce has.  “When?” his wife asks.  “When I went to Baltimore with the lodge,” that city of sin!  “You never told me,” she sasses back, and Bruce only wants to know “what is going through your mind” when doing her sex scenes.  “New dresses, new shoes, new wallpaper, recipes, but I’ll tell you something that isn’t…the lodge members in Baltimore,” Phoebe replies and everyone dissolves into gigantic peals of laughter. 

Trouble in husband-land.  When Arielle arrives home, her husband is in bed with the secretary, but I give him credit for using a different line than expected.  “It isn’t EXACTLY as it appears,” James Faulkner says.  Oh, such clever writing!  Arielle throws his clothing out the window and then declares that if he can have a midlife crisis, so can she.  It’s better than poor Brooke, whose husband has a heart attack on the flight back to London!

Then the plot can finally start.  Phoebe wants to meet her father.  Deborah produces a picture of a man in a military uniform and says that’s her father and he’s dead, but Phoebe pushes, so Deborah pulls out the the story of Lucinda Lace she wrote all those years ago in private school and gives Phoebe a missing chapter.  “Oh, I better warn you, some of it might be unpleasant.”  Ah, thank you.  Because Phoebe hasn’t spent her whole life being unpleasant, suddenly a prude? 

The story starts with Michael Fitzpatrick (the only other major role from the first to be recast), the banker with whom “all three girls fell in love,” repeating a scene from the original “Lace” but having to reshoot it with two new actors.  He’s the one who took Deborah to the dance, requiring more reshooting and then in bed afterwards, a third reshot.  Deborah falls playing field hockey (yeah, put a wig on the ladies and they look positively…40!) and announces she’s “just a little bit pregnant.” 

Those who remember “Lace” will know that every problem was discussed head on, “srough sick and sin,” with everyone putting their thumbs together and imitating Arielle’s French accent.  Deborah wants an abortion, but how?  “There are ways,” Arielle notes and skulks around a pharmacy until taking heaps of medication to force one.  That doesn’t work, and I’m sure Phoebe is thrilled to be reading she was truly unwanted.  Her friends think Michael should know, but Deborah refuses because his family has planned his future, but they decide to tell him anyway, until they see him with his fiancee and chicken out.  “Three years later, he would die a hero’s death in Vietnam,” the chapter concludes, and the mystery of Phoebe’s father is over.  Wow, a 30-minute movie, that wasn’t so bad. 

It ain’t over, don’t get excited.

Phoebe isn’t upset to have been possibly aborted because, she claims with pride, she had abortions at the same age.  Instead, she wants to read the rest of the book, but Deborah says, “it’s silly schoolgirl stuff” and takes it away.

Plus, they have to rush back to New York because Deborah has been offered an interview with Walter Gotell, a reclusive Vietnamese “rebel leader” and for $50K, he’ll tell his story to her magazine (she thinks that it’s because her book on Vietnam was so good).  Phoebe is pissed because Deborah won’t be with her in Los Angeles, “to make my first Hollywood film.”  It will only take a week to do everything, so she’ll meet Phoebe then.  Yes, folks, Deborah Raffin, and her hefty shoulder pads, are off to Vietnam!  Who the hell is she, Rambo?  In the 80s, Vietnam was a big deal, with the Republican Party trouncing the Left by making it unpatriotic to speak ill of the war, but what in heaven’s name is it doing in “Lace II?” 

Off to Vietnam Deborah goes, taken from a tourist pack and hidden under a sheet in a boat to bypass the authorities.  When she finally gets to the remote area to meet the general, a few guards are murdered and then she meets Christopher Cazenove (another miniseries regular, but second-tier).  They instantly despise each other, which means they will, of course, fall in love.  She tells him, “I’m not very good on a horse,” but that’s okay, because they will be riding elephants as “they make less noise,” Christopher tells her. 

Out in LA, Phoebe writes her name in the cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which was something no one had done for decades at that point, but her (seemingly decreasing) fans go wild for it. 

Christopher, his merry band of bandits and Deborah arrive at their location where they banter like all people who will eventually be in love.  She counts out the $50K in hundred dollar bills, until General Walter has her stop at $45K, saying she’ll have no voice left for questions.  Oh, come on, let her count out the last amount, she got that far!  General Walter, who seems about as Vietnamese as Christopher or Deborah, taunts Christopher about his fancy education and then squirms out of being interviewed by Deborah. 

I can promise you will be absolutely mystified by the scene Phoebe shoots for the movie.  It appears to be some sort of music video, in which a bunch of extras in tacky clothing dance around a pool while Phoebe is shy behind plants and drinks and then gets pushed into the pool.  It doesn’t make any more sense if you watch it twice or try to puzzle it out, so let’s just move on.

After needing just one take, Phoebe goes to her dressing room, where two Asian men (or one, and one in heavy Asian make-up) grab her.  They are there to deliver a message and one wants to rape her, but thankfully there is a knock at the door. 

Plucky Deborah is kept from General Walter, but not from the truth.  She’s there to witness the killing of a young man under Christopher’s orders.  “He told us everything he knew, we can’t afford prisoners,” he tells Deborah.  She wants to contact Phoebe, but is told, “we don’t have direct dial.”  He pulls out a game and she snaps, “I didn’t come all this way to play checkers with a stiff-upper-lip sadist.”  Oooh, that’s tellin’ him, Deborah.  She looks and sounds ridiculous at all times, though somehow, he manages to pull off his “Apocalypse Now” role decently.  They play, but argue over British-American word differences like “lift” and “braces.”  She wants to know what “noble cause” he shares with the general and he rattles off words like freedom and better life, but that’s boring.  “Most girls fine me irresistible,” he tells her and they banter more, before he lowers the boom everyone else has figured out but her.  “How long am I going to be here.”  “It’s hard to say.  It’s rather up to that famous daughter of yours.”

Yes, gang, she was lured all the way to Vietnam as a hostage for one million dollars.  “You may be overestimating my daughter’s affection for me,” but he’s confident.  “The game isn’t over,” she yells, throwing the table aside.  He comes to hit her, she flinches and he merely brushes aside a strand of her hair.

I know what you are thinking: why did they kidnap her and why did they bring her to Vietnam.  I have no answers.  Of all the people in the world to use as a hostage, a magazine editor with a famous daughter is not the first I would choose.  There are far more valuable people.  And why schlep her all the way to Vietnam when they could just stash her closer to home and still get the money?  I don’t think anyone thought of that.  So, just suspend all notions of reality and follow it along to the inevitable conclusions you can see coming miles away!  I’m not saying it won’t be painful getting there…

Phoebe has to ask her producer for the million ransom as an up front payment of her salary, but when he refuses, he threatens to “sue ya.”  “Go ahead, sue me for every cent I haven’t got,” while standing naked in her dressing room.  Phoebe calls her old pal Terence Rigby, the Greek shipping magnate, and begs him for money, again.  She promises never to ask again.  He hangs up on her after putting one of his expensive girls on the phone for a few seconds.  The magazine can’t afford it either.  “The next thing for me is a trip to Philadelphia,” Phoebe decides, to bilk her father’s family out of the pocket change. 

She does herself up in kid gloves and a business suit, but her grandfather’s secretary isn’t fooled.  Peter Jeffrey is thrilled to see her because he’s never met a movie star, only “presidents and statesmen,” but he’s confused as to why she’s come to see him.  Not filling in all the details, she asks for the money and THEN tells him “your son was my father.”  “You are not his daughter,” he says and she goes off on one of her spaz attacks, but then retracts to get all simpering and sweet.  Peter tosses her out, insisting his son is not her father and very confidently. 

Deborah, wearing white, finds herself in the middle of a war zone when troops storm the not-at-all-hidden rebel enclave.  Wait for the moment when Christopher comes rushing by on a horse to scoop her up as bombs explode around them.  If that isn’t romance, I don’t know what is!  This much schmaltz and on free TV!  The general is dead, so Deborah thinks she’s free, but not so.  “I read Lace and the other lurid tabloids.  Your coming here was my idea, and so was the ransom demand.  I even anticipated this eventuality, so nothing’s changed,” he says.  “So much for heroes on white horses,” she snaps.  “Do heroines still believe in such things?” he ends, closing down that conversation.  Wait, you didn’t see it coming that Christopher was in charge the whole time?

Remember Brooke Adams?  Her husband dies.  Remember Arielle?  She throws a party where she and her husband do nothing but insult each other while the rest of the guests do equally catty remarking, but Arielle flirts with Patrick Ryecart, who says he’ll spirit her away to London and “flaunt” their passion for each other.  That’s put on hold when a butler brings news of Brooke’s hubby’s death.

That news is also heard in the Kingdom of Sydon.  Remember King Anthony Higgins, the unfailingly polite monarch with the heavy bronzer?  We know he’s always had a thing for Brooke.  So, he dispatches an envoy to the funeral with the message that “the timeless desert sand has been known to assuage deep personal grief.” 

The kidnappers call Phoebe and want the money, but she gets an extension of seven days.  They aren’t very good kidnappers, are they?  Since when does she get to dictate the terms?  So, she follows through on her threat to out the Philadelphia blue-bloods as her family.  But, Phoebe rifles through her mother’s drawers and finds a secret addendum to the Lucinda Lace book. 

Next thing we know, Phoebe shows up at Brooke’s hubby’s funeral, interrupting the minister with, “I want to know the truth.”  She does know how to make an entrance.  This forces us into ANOTHER flashback, with Deborah very pregnant and the others playing badminton.  Deborah goes into labor and tells Brooke the father might not be the man they all think it is.  Arielle decides to tell Phoebe what she knows, merely interrupting the flashback to send us into another.  This time, Deborah goes, as a reporter, to Vietnam, to tell Michael about their child.  “Tell me, are there any atheists in foxholes?”  “I’m not sure, but I do know there is an idiot who let you get away,” he replies.  He apologizes for his family and for listening to them.  They declare their love for each other, he’ll leave his wife for her after the war, so she shows him pictures of their daughter.  He’s speechless, for a moment, and then launches into a big doozy that ends with, “I have never been able to have children.”  Now we know why is father was so sure of himself, eh? 

“Before you go into mourning, I need your help to save my mother’s life,” Phoebe begs of Brooke, and Arielle of course.  Phoebe reveals that the chapter about her father was written three times and she needs their help to figure out her paternity and for some money, which neither of them has.  So, they have to figure out which of the three stories of Deborah “being violated” is true.  King Anthony’s name comes up, and so does James Read’s, someone we never knew existed back in “Lace.”  Phoebe quips, “the daughter of a budding astronaut?  You might have been a Martian!”  That doesn’t sit well with Phoebe.  She gets snarky and decides to do it all on her own.  “Through thick and thin, like hell!”

But, ignoring her tantrum, Arielle and Brooke suddenly remember some details and we’re sent into flashback land again (if they just TOLD us what was happening, this could have all been wrapped up in a single evening, rather than over two nights of valuable primetime real estate).  They agree to help.  Brooks asks, “what do you want us to do?

“I want you to help me find out which one of those bastards is my father,” Phoebe snarls to end the first part of the movie.  She did that in the first “Lace” and it was a fantastic moment.  Here it falls flat 

The press wants to know who her father is and she says they will have to wait until her big press conference.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Deborah has decided to turn her situation into “Taming of the Shrew.”  She knocks Christopher’s gun into the water and dashes for his horse.  He grabs her, they tussle and he gets her to calm down.  He then reads her diary entry about him, which is flattering.  “I didn’t write what I really thought,” she says, the dim bulb. 

Phoebe, Arielle and Brooke each take a version of the story to follow it through.  Arielle contacts the boy she slept with years ago, the soccer player, because one version says the rapist was on the soccer team.  They force Brooke, against her will, to go to Sydon and confront King Anthony, leaving Phoebe to tackle James Read, because she’s “the only one who has ever met him,” as if asking him about violating a woman years ago would be any less awkward from a stranger?  “I am prepared to do anything to get that money,” Phoebe tells her mother’s pals and is brought into the “sick and sin” pact, she and her camel toe. 

Deborah, punked by the locals into eating spicy food, takes advantage of a moment when no one is watching her to get all “Mission Impossible” and escape, though again in white, not at all an obvious color.  She stops at every pillar to look around, not very good at this disappearing thing.  She comes across Christopher, wounded and passed out from a fierce battle with the other side of whatever he’s rebelling against.  She wants to run, but she wants to help.  Run?  Help?  Run?  Help?  I think you know which it is.

First up is Arielle, off to see her former soccer love, hunky Francois Guetary, who has been reduced to being a gym teacher.  Arielle drives her fancy car and sits on it all sexy-like, except the car is not fancy and she’s not dressed for sexy.  He wants to speak to her, and she agrees to go back to his place.  The man on the hockey team is Patrick Ryecart, with whom she has been flirting, the world-famous composer.  Francois expects a little fumble-and-tickle, but Arielle claims, “I’m pressed for time,” stops and adds, “on the ice, you were so formidable” and blows him a kiss goodbye.  I used to think anyone with a French accent could get away with anything, but not our Arielle.  A combination of bad writing and even worse acting kills that notion. 

Brooke goes to Sydon where King Anthony is there to meet her as a helicopter pilot.  “Welcome back to my humble home,” he tells her as they pull up to his castle.  The Queen is none too happy to see her, but the king’s young son is excited. 

Even wounded and living as a rebel in the jungle, Christopher has his tart tongue.  Waking up to find Deborah keeping a vigil at his bedside, he says, “any relation to Florence Nightingale?”  “How about a fair trade?  I save your life,” she says, to which he replies, “and because you were foolishly sentimental, you want me to do the same.”  Ah, sweet bickering.  “I want you to be human for once.”  “Sorry,” he replies.  “What are you?  What are you doing here anyway?” she thinks to ask.  There’s a story, thank you for asking.  Like Zorba the Greek, he always has a story, this rascal.  His father was a diplomat who didn’t agree with the government and was killed.  That story of tragic boyhood loss leads into the following: “and what are you?  Editor?  Nurse?  Woman?  To conclude the interview, I do regard self-sacrifice as an essential part of life” and pulls her in for a kiss.  I’m sorry, what?  How did we go from his father in front of a firing squad to the cascading of a thousand violins and sex under the mosquito net?  Everyone watches their silhouettes from outside and are probably wondering the same thing. 

King Anthony has important problems.  His peasants are starving because there is no water.  “How can I lead them into the modern age?” he wonders.  She says she’s seen worse people with money.  “You must learn to distinguish between unhappiness and misery,” he says, with a veiled reference to perhaps someday being his queen, or at least a harem gal.  We’ve had the helicopter, a boring classical recital and a long horse ride and still she hasn’t broached the subject of Deborah in the past. 

Waking up after a night of gettin’ busy, Deborah asks if she can go.  He says he so desperately needs the money for the people, and now she’s, of course, sympathetic.  But what if Phoebe can’t get the money.  Yeah, that’s a problem because he didn’t anticipate falling in love with her, but “she has to raise the money.”  “You aren’t human.  You just aren’t!” she starts, leading into, bar none, the absolute worst dialogue exchange in all of “Lace II.”  She claims he has “an Orestes Complex, which means, sexually speaking, you’re all mixed up.”  “That’s not what you said last night.”  If this were Jerry Springer, we could cue the audience on that one!  “Oh no she didn’t!”  But, there is no Jerry Springer, so the writers go for more nonsense, such as “Judy.  We just made love.  You can call me Judy!,” her character’s name. 

Arielle has a box at the symphony all to herself to watch Patrick conduct his orchestra.  Watching him, we dissolve into flashback to the dance we saw in “Lace” and though it’s refilmed, I will give them credit for remembering that the song playing was “Summer Place.”  The rest is pretty brand new.  Deborah sees Patrick and thinks he looks “miserable,” wanting to “cheer him up.”  They also remember the next song was “Mack the Knife,” but at no point in “Lace” did Patrick break into the dance and try to take Deborah.  When Michael tells Deborah they can’t be together, she accuses him of just “wanting a body.”  Fleeing Michael, she meets Patrick on the street, where he leads her into a scary taxidermy store.  She’s creeped out and tries to leave, but he stops her.  Violation #1.

Arielle and Patrick go driving through Paris singing opera.  Did you know Arielle had a world-class opera voice?  Neither did she, but she lip syncs decently.  Their attempted seduction of each other is laughable.  The puns and the accents are big hazards, but unsubtle Arielle tries to trap him.  “I find this conversation increasingly boring,” he says.  She makes her accusations, they play the longest cat and mouse scene and he declares, “Countess, you have no proof.  No proof at all,” as she grabs her fur and storms out of his Paris abode. 

Things have to start moving faster, because we only have an hour left and two options to go, one that should be somewhat romantic and one that will be just awkward.  And then we have to wrap up the plot.  I’m so glad we’ve wasted 3/4 of the whole thing on unimportant gibberish!

Luckily, astronaut James Read happens to be in Paris, so Phoebe doesn’t have to trek back to the US to find him.  She just has to put on her favorite outfit of a fur and hanky over her head, with sunglasses, and James can see her in the not-so-big crowd, knowing at some point he must follow her, to what turns out to be a very remote location outside the city (where he is staying as well)

The second version of the violation takes place during a brand new time period we didn’t even know existed back in “Lace.”  Somehow, Deborah found time to go home to West Virginia during her fertile few days (the other two possible stories take place at school, reasonably enough).  There is a hay ride, songs by a campfire, hide-and-go-seek in the dark and bing-bang-boom, Deborah finds herself in trouble.  James traces her to an abandoned barn.  Apparently she is the ONLY woman of them all to think to hide in there, giving her alone time with James, who always looks and acts the good guy, so he’s not believable as a menacing rapist.  Then again, we don’t know if this version is the truth, so it could just be (not at all) good storytelling.  Where the first version found her abused by a crazy man, this one is worse because we get the “you know you wanted it” rapist.  Violation #2.

Phoebe is all dressed up when James arrives, with a fire lit, flowers on display, everything that one would want for a really good seduction.  Wait!  Wait!  A seduction?  Isn’t he possibly her father?  She’s going to seduce him into revealing the truth?  That’s taking a chance, eh?  We’ve gone into trash overdrive, but possible incest?  That’s too much even for “Lace II.”  Phoebe calls James and tells him to go out onto his balcony.  Naturally, she has the next one over and tells him to “jump” the space between them.  “It’s a two story drop,” he says.  “You can do it.  One small step for mankind, one little leap for Lili,” she giggles.  Being an astronaut does not make him particularly coordinated and he almost falls, but is finally able to climb onto her balcony.  “It must have been wonderful to grow up on a farm.  How big was it?” Phoebe asks after a few glasses of wine.  “Pretty big,” he says, not talking about his farm, we assume.

When he goes to touch her, she finally realizes this may be too much and reminds him she’s just his old gal’s “little girl.”  He removes his hands, but only for a second.  “Do you want to go to bed with me?” she asks?  “How much?”  “Very much.” “A million dollars much?”  “No, no roll in the hay is worth that much,” she replies, with an apt pun for how he might have gotten to be her father.  She’s the one who mentions incest and he’s shocked, denying it completely.  “She wanted to be the most important person EVER to come out of Haddington,” he says, bursting her bubble about her “good little mother,” “and I beat her there too!” he explains, telling Phoebe that Deborah was also so competitive with him, of course she would invent lies about him.  Phoebe tosses her threat to him, one million at the Ritz on Saturday, or she goes public.  “One thing you should know about astronauts, honey, they don’t scare easily,” he says and darts from the room. 

That leaves only King Anthony.  We pick up that flashback where Brooke runs from his room after he tries to have sex with her.  That happened in “Lace,” so we’re good so far.  At the same time, Deborah is leaving Michael, so she bumps into King Anthony on the street, but she won’t be able to make it back to school since there are no cars around.  Crying that “I’ll be expelled,” she brings out the gallant in him.  He sneaks her into his hotel so they can come up with a plan.  “My tutor said a good lie is always rooted in the truth,” King Anthony tells her, apparently having formulated a plan in his mind already.  Speaking of his tutor, coincidentally, “he gets expert tuition in how to make love,” he throws out there just in case.  He grabs for Deborah, noting “I will not be rejected twice in one night.”  This version of events is the most idiotic yet.  We know King Anthony to be a gentleman at all times, madly in love with Brooke.  In fact, he’s never bothered to even meet her friends, let alone pick one up on the street.  On top of that, “Lace” showed that Brooke did not make it back to school, instead returning to King Anthony’s room and making love, most romantically.  But, “Lace II” has us believe that in the few moments between when she left and when she returned, Deborah was snuck up to his room and raped AND that after that, Anthony redressed and was ready for more, sweetly, in a snap.  Violation #3.

Brooke can’t sleep because she has yet to confront King Anthony, despite being in the palace for days.  She grabs a robe and goes walking through the palace, where no one is standing guard, and is able to get into the throne room and sit in the queen’s chair.  King Anthony apparently couldn’t sleep either and arrives only a second later, in a caftan.  “Did you enjoy what could be…?”he asks.  “What could have been?” she corrects him.  He gets on his knees and promises to “give it all up” for her.  Oh, suddenly he’s Edward and she’s Wallis Simpson?  “Sorry, I forgot my moral restraint, I must wait for a more appropriate time,” he claims when she rushes away.  Finally, she gets to the threat.  She asks if he remembers Deborah, but he doesn’t remember.  She tells him Deborah is being held for one million dollars ransom and that Phoebe is Deborah’s daughter (“ah yes, such scandal reaches even here”).  Brooke tells him she intended to blackmail him, but the story is so ridiculous, she’s had trouble.  “You realize what you’re accusing me of is a capital offense in a Muslim country,” he says, furious.  “I’m not accusing you.  I don’t believe it, I’ve never believed it!”  “But you want me to deny it!  I’m the King of Sydon, how dare you!”  Brooke runs from the room in tears.  But King Anthony follows, looking so damn in the shadows that there’s no resisting him.  She’s ready to have him right then and there, but he merely kisses her hand and tells her to leave.  When daylight comes, she leaves, in the same outfit that brought her there, so they must be her traveling togs (or they filmed the arrival and departure at the same time and didn’t think to change her costume).

The press is hounding Phoebe for the revelation of her father, because apparently that’s all that’s going on in the world.  Truly, there are more paparazzi than fans at any given moment.  She puts them off, saying she wants to wait for her mother.  They insist she fix a time and date, so she does.  “Don’t forget to show up,” one of then says all angry as she drives off.  She goes to find Brooke, who is, as always, drunk.  “I lost the respect of the only man I ever really loved,” she tells Phoebe, who is not at all concerned if it doesn’t mean Deborah’s release.  “We all have to keep praying until midnight,” she tells Brooke. 

With tears streaming down her face, Phoebe watches the clock tick toward midnight.  Finally, a taxi pulls up to the hotel and a man with a briefcase gets out, but we only see the briefcase.  He knocks on Phoebe’s door just in time.  The man is…

…Michael Gough, a banker who has brought the money.  He has no idea whose money it is.  “Our function was just to deliver it to you,” he tells her, “but there was a personal message.”  There is a note that merely says, “to my daughter, belatedly and with love,” but it’s not signed. 

The money gets to Vietnam in record time, by the next scene!  There is no direct calling as Christopher snapped at Deborah before, but apparently wire transfers are all the rage.  Deborah is free to go, but Christopher chases after her with a big open-mouthed kiss.  “Would you have really killed me?” she asks.  “Neither of us will ever know,” he replies and Deborah is off to freedom. 

Wait!  Wait!  All that, the kidnapping, the threats, the bickering, the sex, the love, and Deborah just leaves Vietnam without him?  Wow, romance just isn’t her thing!  In the course of this movie, she’s been violated three times and held prisoner in Vietnam.  No wonder Deborah Raffin signed up after Bess Armstrong passed!  Who wouldn’t want to play this version of Judy Hale?

Reunited, Deborah chirps, “it’s nice to have a rich daughter,” but Phoebe says she’s not (another problem that I didn’t want to mention, because in “Lace,” her character was wealthy beyond imagination, and there has been no explanation of where her money went–bad stocks?) and that she got it from dad, “who finally acknowledged me.”  Phoebe explains how she, Brooke and Arielle “followed Chapter 12 through to its logical conclusion.”  Logical?  In “Lace II?”  Logic died the minute the credits started.  Hell, logic died the minute they gave “Lace II” the green light. 

“If it’s any consolation, you have royal blood,” Deborah tells Phoebe when the latter insists on knowing the truth.  Wow, that’s anti-climactic, as opposed to “Lace” where it took ten minutes for Bess Armstrong to walk back to Phoebe’s room, while Phoebe did that weird bird-gyration thing in her teddy and they finally met as mother and daughter.  Now, our four hours fizzled with one line, and the answer is the dumbest of the three possibilities, though the most inevitable.  It wasn’t going to be one of the guys who was new to the story, come on!  You had this figured out already, I know you did.  “He was promised secrecy in return for the money, but why shouldn’t I let everyone know?” Phoebe asks.  “It would make me feel better.”  “Then this time, it’s up to you,” Deborah tells her.  “Yes, mother, it is.” 

It’s time for the big announcement.  There are droves of reporters and cameras in the hotel.  Phoebe arrives, saying, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about.”  You are the one who called the press conference!  Your paternity is apparently more important than world peace (or Vietnamese freedom fighters).  Arielle and Brooke are there to support Deborah and Phoebe.  So is King Anthony, watching from a balcony above the lobby.  She…talks…very…slowly…to…take…up…all…the…remaining…time…as…everyone…waits…with…baited…breath.  “My…father’s…name…is…”

“is”

“his name was”

and she claims Michael was her father.  Sure, it’s easy to blame the dead guy with no active sperm.  I’m sure they are going to be thrilled to death in Philly!  Since he was a nobody who died in Vietnam, the press isn’t all that excited.  Deborah and Brooke are happy with that answer, and of course, so is King Anthony. 

The four women hug in slow motion, turn to the cameras and freeze.  That’s the end of “Lace II.” 

Not to worry, as of 2011, there has been no “Lace III.”  I’m sure you are just itching to know who Phoebe’s great-great-grandparents are, but alas, the movie just has not been made.

“Lace II” really is abominable.  It has an insane story, terrible acting and a storyline that takes so long to tell and goes nowhere, with a hokey ending.  “Lace” was delightful cheese all the way through.  It knew how to keep the camp sharp, but there is no effort to even try in “Lace II.”  Turning Phoebe’s character into a wonderful daughter is not believable and not at all in the spirit of Shirley Conran’s book.  It gives Phoebe nothing to play, and even less to poor Brooke and Arielle, who agreed to make this crap.  Deborah Raffin no doubt thought she was signing up for greatness.  After all, “Lace” was enormously popular, so why the hell not go for a sequel?  Well, “Rage of Angels II” should have been a clue.  It’s one thing to make a sequel to “Roots” or “Rich Man, Poor Man” because those books are true classics, with characters that, even at their worst, have possibilities for more.  The story of “Lace” is self-contained.  It’s a gooey romance saga with excitement and glamour and a big twist, but it all ends neatly.  There is absolutely no reason for a sequel, and certainly not because someone gets kidnapped in Vietnam! 

But the sequels didn’t stop with crap like “Rage of Angels II” or “Lace II.”  Oh, no.  “The Thorn Birds” had one, “V” had one, “North and South” had one (though, to be fair, that one actually came from a third John Jakes’ Civil War novel).  Hell, even “Hollywood Wives” had a sequel as late as 2005. 

We’ll just never learn when it comes to sequels.  I mean, “Lace II” should cause us to stop and think, but we’ll never REALLY learn in the end.

Categories: Romance Miniseries

3 Comments to “SEQUEL ALERT: Lace II (1985)”

  1. Siobhan ODriscoll 18 April 2017 at 8:12 am #

    Hi, can you help me find out where I can buy Lace 2 on DVD I have Lace 1 I live in Australia… Many thanks

    • Bj Kirschner 18 April 2017 at 6:53 pm #

      Lace II was very briefly available as a Region 1 on-demand DVD from the Warner Archives on Amazon. From what I can tell, that is the only version that has ever been on DVD, but it is no longer in print. It pops up on YouTube every now and then, but I don’t see it up there now. There has been chatter over the years about releasing them together in a box set, but miniseries don’t sell well (even “Roots” and the Wouk miniseries), so I don’t see it happening with Lace and Lace II. More likely someone will realize there is no money to be made from it and just let a copy up on YouTube where it isn’t harming anyone. 🙂

  2. Siobhan odriscoll 21 April 2017 at 11:27 pm #

    Thank you for your help.


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