"Glitter" begins the new television season with an appropriately insipid white whine. The ABC series was produced by the king of worthless television, Aaron Spelling, and attempts to transplant his "Love Boat" formula -- old hams plus young turkeys -- to the offices of fictitious Glitter magazine, where stories covered by vapid series regulars become the multiple plots of each episode.
In the two-hour premiere, at 8 tonight on Channel 7, two has-been actors (guest-beens Mike Connors and Juliet Prowse) reunite for a movie after 15 years and are interviewed, sort of, by reporters Pete and Julie (calendar clod Christopher Mayer and flossy Kristen Meadows). Meanwhile, an old madam (Patricia Neal, who never has to leave bed) lies dying in a hospital, and reporters Sam and Kate (David Birney and Morgan Brittany, together less scintillating than the L.L. Bean catalogue) discover that her estranged son is a senator (Ken Howard). Will there be a tearful bedside reconciliation? Oh shut up.
Meanwhile, back at the office, Van Johnson is playing editor, only to hear late in the premiere that he's being shipped off to London (that is, leaving the show) to be replaced by dull Arthur Hill. An office romance of sorts transpires between a copy boy and a receptionist. He wants her to move in with him and, brandishing his portable paging device, tells her, "Live with me and you could play with my beeper any time." Nancy Sakett, Art Baer and Ben Joelson wrote that and the other nifties in the script, lamely directed by Jackie Cooper.
Like "Love Boat," "Glitter" was produced with one of those titter-pie laugh tracks, but at the last minute, ABC took the laugh track off so as to emphasize the "dramatic" aspects of the program (Ohhh, brother!!! Has the whole world gone mad????) The program features views from several angles of cars leaving parking lots and moving down streets. There are also several shots of the twin towers at Century City in L.A., where the offices of Glitter are supposedly located and where ABC Entertainment's really are.
Whatever soothingly tedious comfort the lumpen viewertariat may take from listless, predictable hours like "Love Boat," such shows apparently have a certain campy allure for a more specialized group, those hard-core devotees of junk television. That audience should definitely tune in for the "Glitter" finale, supposedly a big production number danced by the two old stars. That Prowse is a dancer and Connors anything but is made hilariously evident by the "choreography," which has Connors woodenly wandering about in a sea of fog while Prowse dances her leggy legs off.
And the song they dance to is called "De'ja Vu." If "Glitter" were any more de'ja , it would be completely unvuable. As it is, the program seems part of Spelling's insidious plot to bore America to death. There's apparently no stopping him. It is said of great actors that they could recite from the telephone book and entrance an audience; Spelling could make a pilot out of it and have no trouble selling it to ABC.