Friday, June 10, 2011

Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story

When it comes to popular murders, I'm always behind the news. The left-wing political and pop culture/feminist blogs I frequent are always a little too intellectual to contain any real juicy bits, and I can't stand the local newscast (except for Ernie Anastos' shenanigans).

So how then, do I find out about the Amanda Knoxes and Craigslist Killers of the world? There's always 20/20 on We, of course, but they rerun the same episodes over and over, and sometimes pictures of the sign in front a murderer's middle-class subdivision, followed by a blurry shot of a guy holding a cell phone up to his ear, aren't entertaining enough to hold my attention.

The crotchety cop from Police Academy
and Mannequin (right) plays the detective!!
Yes, "Based on a True Story" TV movies are the ideal vehicle for delivering into my brain the almost-true details of our nation's most heinous crimes, and since I wasn't paying attention when it actually happened, the twists and turns of these movies are as real to me as Lifetime's depiction of William and Kate's courtship.

So I was mesmerized when "Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story" came on Pick-a-Flick last Friday. Of course, it should have been called "Perfect Husband: The Scott Peterson Story," because Laci is not the husband (perfect or otherwise), nor was she in the movie. Actually, it should have been called "Dean Cain's Scott Peterson, the Perfect Husband, But Not Really Because He Killed His Wife...Probably."

Doesn't she totally look like the lady
from Law & Order: SVU?
Believe or not, the best thing about this masterpiece of TV-movie cinema isn't that Dean Cain plays Scott Peterson, it's that Pam-from-The-Office's ex-fiance who used to work in the warehouse until he got fired when he punched Jim in the face plays Dean Cain's best friend Tommy. Tommy and his pregnant wife Kate (who is played by a woman who looks so much like the non-annoying blonde ADA from Law & Order: SVU that I thought it was her for the entire movie) are so heartbreaking as Dean Cain's only remaining friends that I didn't even realize they're not real people until I did some investigating later. It turns out that they were only in the movie to represent America's everyman and everypregnantwoman who might discover that their best bud is a two-faced scumbag of the highest order. It also turns out that this movie was made in 2004, back when the USA network funded "Movies of the Week" rather than just playing SVU marathons until I start thinking every adorable blonde lady on TV is Casy Novak.

Busted
Clearly, a USA-funded team of the highest caliber had been assembled to make this "ripped from the headlines" small-screen tour de force. Executive producer Diane Sokolow is the woman behind such greats as "Long-Island Lolita: The Amy Fisher Story" and "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?", and the screenwriter is respected enough that she (or he) took herself off the movie's imdb page. My heartstrings were pulled as Laci's friends hope for her survival and her brother Dennis angrily confronts Dean Cain about his affair. OK, so in real life the guy's name isn't Dennis, it's Brent, but these are all just details, right?

The sad thing about this movie being from 2004, though, is that it ends with Dean Cain, goatee grown and hair recently dyed, soullessly staring out of some prison bars. The least you'd suspect is a black screen stating that Scott got convicted of the murders, but I really wish that LMN would spend the money to update this classic (just make one less rip-off of a popular chiller movie next year!). According to a People magazine interview, Scott's pretty popular around death row. Why not end the movie with him telling one of his fanciful stories about the time he took in some fireworks at the Eiffel Tower with his friend Francois? Just make it a Christmas movie and Dean Cain will totally agree to star in it.

One of Dean Cain's Christmas classics,
which also include "Christmas Rush, "
"A Christmas Wedding," and
"The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation"

Of course, I'll refrain from posting my Lifetime "True Movie" fantasy, where Hayden Panettiere Amanda Knox and Scott Peterson somehow end up on the same death row, and fall in love. Because I can already tell you're judging me for the fact that when the movie started, I couldn't remember the difference between Scott Peterson and Drew Peterson (ooh, can't wait for that movie!). But I'll still make the case that TV movies are a great news source when dealing with controversial murders. Because I don't trust a word of them, I'm immediately compelled to go read a million different articles about what really happened. This is better fact-checking than Ernie Anastos would ever do, so I hope no one minds that Scott Peterson will always look like Dean Cain in my mind.

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