"The special today is carrot, raisin and walnut salad on Chinese cabbage." Yech. They'll have it. Of course they'll have it. They're staying fit. They're watching waists.
They're competing in the social marketplace of California flesh.
"Mirror, Mirror," at 9 tonight on Channel 4. isn't a very good movie -- the dialogue is flat and dry, for one thing -- but at least it looks critically at a mentality TV often seems to be pushing, the whackadookie mind set, Dementia California, in which self-love is deemed wrong only when it's unrequited.
The script of the NBC movie, by Leah Aptet and Charles Dennis, hardly amounts to a stinging condemnation, but it does peruse the world of tummy tucks, face peels, breast implants and other aspects of cultivated gorgeousness in the land where you can never be too young or too orange. Because most TV and movie entertainment is produced in Los Angeles, this body of thought about bodies has tremendous influence on American attitudes.
"Mirror, Mirror" updates "The Women" for the silicone age. One of its more loonily resonant scenes finds Loretta Swit as an implanted mom explaining to her little son that "there's going to be a lot more of me" after returning from plastic surgery.
But the very best scene of all finds Janet Leigh trying to pick up a man at a bar, armed with all the chemical and surgical enhancements known to woman -- and man -- and with sadly pink flowers in her hair.
When she holds out a cigarette for a man to light and he not only fails to light it but also moves on to younger territory down the bar, Leigh's expression is deftly heartbreaking. But the director, Joanna Lee, while competent, hasn't much imagination when it comes to the politics of humiliation. She has Leigh run home and do a sobbing flop on the bed, just the way Lana Turner would have done it in the '50's.
The men in these women's lives include their husbands -- one dense, one divorced, one dead -- and a Dr. Lookgood who has no reservations about fooling with Mother Nature. Also in the cast is Lee Meriwether, looking so beautiful, as usual, that it is hard to accept her as a former fashion model feeling creaky at 40. She's also much too good for Robert Vaughn as her weaselly ex-husband.
All of the women are fitfully wondersul, and if "Mirror, Mirror" isn't as consequential or emphatic as it might have been, it as least casts some encouraging, disparaging light on the gospel of what-can-I-do-for-myself-today.
Peer-group pressure and social stratification in junior high are among the subjects of "A Movie Star's Daughter," today's ABC Afterschool Special at 4:30 on Channel 7.
Trini Alvarado, the vaguely angelic adolescent who plays the geniusy waif in the current movie "Rich Kids," here plays the daughter of a Redford-esque superstar who finds that friends come suspiciously easy at her new school once word of her celebrity gets around.
She joins a snobbish clique called the Cameos and learns the true meaning of friendship after realizing they've only used her to get near Pops. The script by Jeffrey Kindley is right on the botton, and Robert Fuest, the director, does a good job a making the Cameos believably catty and not outright she-devils.
Walter Conkite's daughter Kathy and Gary Cooper's daughter Maria served as consultants on the problems of having illustrious parents. Very nice, but this isn't a problem of much concern to young viewers. The Afterschool Specials rarely show as much interest in the lower end of the socioeconomic school as they do in the upper.