Showtime Sells Its Soul - on the Cheap 'Teenage Faust' Falls Well Short of Immortality

By Cox, Ted | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

Showtime Sells Its Soul - on the Cheap 'Teenage Faust' Falls Well Short of Immortality


Cox, Ted, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Ted Cox Daily Herald TV/Radio Columnist

One of the reasons HBO has succeeded above and beyond all other premium-cable channels is it has urged its filmmakers to press the boundaries, to do what the broadcast networks can't.

It's a simple and obvious lesson, but it seems beyond most of its competitors. Showtime debuts the promising "I Was a Teenage Faust" at 7 p.m. Sunday, but it finds the second-best premium-cable channel once again settling for second best.

As the title indicates, the movie is a teenage take on Goethe's "Faust," his tragic epic poem about a man who sells his soul to Satan only to try to reclaim it. It's an intriguing idea: If "Frankenstein" and werewolves can spawn teen dramas, why not "Faust?" It also stars a fine B-list cast, with Robert Townsend as a Satanic underling, a surprisingly lithe Morgan Fairchild as henchwoman Babylonia and Stuart Margolin - yes, the randy old goat from "Love, American Style" and the mercenary sidekick from "The Rockford Files" - as Mephisto Himself.

Yet, instead of striving for something more daring - even in the realm of family drama -"Teenage Faust" quickly settles into the rut left behind by ABC's old "Afterschool Special." The titles mimic the goofy '50s typeface used in many drive-in movies, but otherwise writer-director Thom Eberhardt doesn't play at all with the conventions of teensploitation films. "Faust" is taken at face value - or, rather, at the level of Cliffs Notes - and simply transcribed to the teen years, leaving a viewer yearning for something as aware and witty as "Clueless," Amy Heckerling's wickedly contemporary take on Jane Austen's "Emma."

Josh Zuckerman stars as Brendan, a high-school nebbish who has just lost a student-council election to a dog - admittedly a German shepherd belonging to one of the cool kids. Adding insult to injury is that his twin sister, Loretta (Crystal Heidrick), is in the popular set. When he winds up riding the mall escalator backward, the better to stare into the eyes of a beautiful blonde, he's ready to give anything for a little popularity.

Into his life comes Townsend's Mr. Five, a "tempter" of lost souls working on a 15-year losing streak. He bemoans the loss of the greed-driven '80s, and gripes like a door-to-door salesman about the "bad territory" he's been given - prim and proper central Indiana. He's got to make a deal fast, or he'll be burning in his own eternal flame.

It couldn't be more simple, so when Josh trades places with Loretta and gets contacts, a new haircut, a letterman's jacket and a nifty new set of wheels in the bargain, the deal is all but sealed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Showtime Sells Its Soul - on the Cheap 'Teenage Faust' Falls Well Short of Immortality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.