Ken Tucker
August 17, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Showtime 30-Minute Movie

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Evan Richards, Ruben Blades, Terrance O'Quinn
Showtime Networks Inc.
Thriller, Sci-fi and Fantasy, TV Movie

We gave it an A

The Showtime 30-Minute Movie is a far superior anthology of three films of half-hour ones by new directors and little-known actors.

”Conquering Space” is a charming period piece about a Florida family in the ’50s. Dad works for the fledgling space program, Mom is bored and restless, teenage Sis is learning to drive, and Little Brother is a lovable brat. In other words, these folks are walking cliches, but director Mark Stratton builds a quiet drama around them, deepening the characters by letting us in on their hopes, dreams, and disappointments.

”12:01 PM” is like the best episode of The Twilight Zone you’ve ever seen. Director Jonathan Heap begins with a science-fiction premise — that there’s been a sudden ”time-skip” in the world, and the same hour, between noon and 1 p.m., keeps repeating itself over and over. Only one man is conscious that this is happening, and it’s driving him crazy. He realizes that he’s always doing the exact same thing: leaving his office and joining a lunch-hour throng at a nearby park; when 1 p.m. rolls around, everything goes black, he passes out, and when he wakes up, he goes on his lunch hour all over again.

The man is played by Kurtwood Smith, often cast as a villain in movies like RoboCop and Dead Poets Society. He’s the hero here, spending his endless lunch hour trying to escape it. Scary, funny, and touching, ”12:01 PM” pulls you into its warped universe right away.

Finally, ”To the Moon, Alice” is a knockout, the most moving depiction of homeless people I’ve seen on television, and all the better for being so unusual. In director Jessie Nelson’s film, a Los Angeles homeless family of three — mother, father, young boy — stumble upon an unlikely shelter: Every night they sneak onto the set of a sitcom after taping is finished for the day; the family sleeps and eats in this fabricated suburban home, leaving early in the morning to search for work.

The contrast between the family’s poverty and the brightly colored stage set is an easy irony, but director Nelson doesn’t play it for either cheap sobs or cheap laughs-you learn about this family, how they came to lose their house and jobs. It’s a flawless half-hour. Combined grade: A

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