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Episode #30: Bare Essentials

Listen to Episode 30 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.

SUMMARY - In Bare Essentials, high powered couple Gordon and Sydney (played by Mark Linn-Baker and Lisa Hartman) escape their frantic life in New York City by heading off on a tropical island vacation. During a romantic interlude on the private boat they rented, the two get lost at sea and quickly shipwrecked on a seemingly uninhabited island. The only other person they come across is a reclusive American named Bill (played by Gregory Harrison) who is not very eager to help.

Screenplay by Allen Estrin & Mark Estrin; Directed by Martha Coolidge, and debuting on CBS on January 8, 1991.


Sure, one of the leads is a sitcom star; and yes, this is a sitcom like font and opening, but it is actually our first TV movie on the podcast.

The appeal for us was seeing Mark Linn-Baker in something other than "Perfect Strangers," although he basically plays the same type of uptight neurotic guy.

What we weren't expecting was how sexually charged this ended up being. For a TV movie (that later got a PG rated VHS release), it was filled with more adult situations than we thought.

We also weren't prepared for the amount of padding to fit the TV running time. There are so many long shots of boats in the water.

There are also a ton of inserts of nature shots and island creatures. At least all of it was done well and seems to have been created just for this movie.

This crab was definitely part of the production as he greeted Mark's character after coming back from a commercial break (strange to see those fade outs/ins).

The movie is pretty goofy and the actual plot stuff moves fast without actual solid explanations most of the time. Did you know there's quicksand on this island? Well, there is if it can be used to introduce the next character.

They do try to add in a bit of intrigue in keeping who this non-native island inhabitant is, and also make a joke out of the fact that he's reading or plays board games.

Overall, it definitely tries to be a comedy but doesn't land most of the time. A lot of the funniest bits were unintentional, like how he was throwing his spear towards land to catch fish.

A lot of the relationship stuff moves fast, too. Here's more of the surprising sexuality with a nearly fully exposed actress and last piece of the love square.

It honestly didn't make sense to us what was appealing about Mark's character. Don't say the dog, because that belongs to Gregory Harrison's character.

There are too many hotels on the board for an actual game of Monopoly.

There are a couple of plot points that they make a big deal of, then ignore immediately.

At least the scenery is nice.

Awards Talk - None to speak of, but that's largely expected from TV movies, especially ones like this that are meant to be silly fun.


This week our crime segment focused on Charlotte Lewis, who played Tarita. We discuss the accusations she made against Roman Polanski.

For more information, here are a couple of our resources.

Moving to music, Nikki takes a look at the Billboard Top 5 songs for the week of January 12, 1991

At #1 is Madonna with "Justify My Love"

#2 was Stevie B "Because I Love You"

Damn Yankees - "High Enough" gives us that little bit of rock in the countdown

Janet Jackson - "Love Will Never Do Without You" was #4 on the week

Bette Midler - "From A Distance" rounds out the top five. Quite a bit of diversity in this week overall.

Lastly, we do a quick look at the TV Listings on Tuesday January 8, 1991

and talk a bit about the "In The Heat of the Night" TV Show which was based on the 1960s movie.


Nikki 1-5 star scale - 1 out of 5

Jon 0-4 star scale - 1/2 out of 4

Would you watch it again? - Despite the ratings, it's not the worst movie that we've seen. It has some good nature shots and it's mindless fluff, but overall it's not anything that we would purposefully watch twice.

If you want to watch Bare Essentials, as of this recording on August 2021, it’s available on VHS, YouTube. Check your local listings.


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Join us next time for Cast a Deadly Spell available on HBO Max, Digital Rental, VHS

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