PRAY TV (1980)
Article 5007 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Rick Friedburg
Featuring Dabney Coleman, Archie Hahn, Nancy Morgan
What it is: Satire
A small-town TV station is failing financially, but a new manager is hired who changes the format so that all of the shows have religious themes. However, the manager is a lot more interested in money than in religion…
If the fantastic content of the movie isn’t readily apparent from the above plot description, there’s a reason. The only content that pops up is that a news show covers an exorcism as one of its stories, so we get a short parody of THE EXORCIST. It’s played very broadly, as is the whole movie.
On its own terms, I have to say that those who cynically use religion to make a buck are ripe and relevant targets for satire, but a truly worthwhile exploration of that topic would offend a lot of people and step on some very powerful toes. This is not to say that this movie won’t offend some people; I don’t underestimate the almost bottomless capacity that exists for some people to be offended. It’s just that this movie plays for wacky and silly comedy, and most of its satire is so diffuse that it fails to hit any target at all. The plot itself seems almost thrown away; the movie mostly consists of parodies of TV shows. All in all, I really only enjoyed a few things about the movie; I liked a musical number featuring a Hare Krishna quartet, and I was delighted to see Dr. John and Devo show up as musical performers. Outside of that, I did take notice at the presence of actress Marcia Wallace (“The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Simpsons”) and Paul Reubens from his pre-Pee-Wee Herman days. Other than that, the movie is a lazy and not very funny mess.