Like the King himself, gone but not forgotten. In retrospect, it’s easy to figure out why this low-rated, now-canceled half-hour drama about Elvis Presley’s early years didn’t attract a huge audience. The show did the one thing that hard-core Elvis fans don’t want: It made Presley human. Instead of a larger-than-life god, Elvis offered us a hugely talented but sensitive mortal who was both wildly ambitious and woefully confused about his place in the world.
Over the years, this sort of serious, sympathetic view of Presley has been crowded out by the scandals of his last years, the lurchings of bad Elvis impersonators, the jokes of legions of stand-up comics. Elvis simply couldn’t overcome all this, but it made a valiant attempt.
Michael St. Gerard’s embodiment of Presley was among the best performances of the TV season. Never veering into parody, never becoming too solemn, St. Gerard gave an uncommonly subtle and well-thought-out performance, as were those of Billy Green Bush and Millie Perkins as Elvis’ parents.
Wishful Thinking Department: Executive producer Priscilla Presley never would have gone for it, but you know how they could have saved this show? ABC colleague David Lynch should have been lured away from Twin Peaks to write and direct a very special Elvis in which Presley’s twin brother, Jesse Garon, who died at birth, rises from the grave to give Elvis some competition as pelvis-wiggling rocker. The ratings would have gone through the roof.