While there's a will, there's a wisp. Although Channel 7 is to be commended for even attempting an original musical fantasy for the holiday, "Thanks a Million," the show that resulted is whimsy too flimsy to tolerate. The program will be shown at 7:30 tonight.
Michele Valeri, who co-wrote the songs with Scott Wesley Brown, plays the role of a sprightly nuisance who, in this transparent fable, brings momentary joy and self-respect to a quartet of contentious grumps. As a performer, Valeri is antimagnetic, but the songs are pleasant enough.
The script, by producer Mark Young, has all the punch and distinction of a junior-high pageant in the key of Me. And so it's particularly impressive that 14-year-old Peter Hallenberg of Fairfax, Va., and 75-year-old Morris Engle of Olney, Md., were able to make something half-credible out of the kid and old man they play.
Others in the cast of local talents include Susan Elliott, 14, of Arlington, Va., as a blind girl and Sujay Johnson of D.C. as a crabby sidewalk artist. As written, the characters tend to be either so sugary or surly that they defy empathy on any level.
Director Mike Albro shot the program "entirely on location," Channel 7 says; the first location is two blocks from the station. "Thanks a Million" represents an effort, yes, but a rather minimal one; the fantasy could have been lighter-than-air without having the consistency of carbon monoxide.Thanks a dozen.