BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE: HUNTER S. THOMPSON ON FILM
Starz • Tuesday, Dec. 12, 10 p.m.
Starz’s original documentary Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride is ostensibly a portrait of “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson. While it provides some requisite biographical information — via actor Nick Nolte’s gravelly narration, photos and press clippings — the film devotes most of its running time to reminiscences from Thompson’s friends and family.
Fans are unlikely to learn anything new about the author, best known for books such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.
Produced and directed by Tom Thurman, whose earlier credits include the Starz documentary Sam Peckinpah’s West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade, Buy the Ticket seems at least as interested in Thompson’s celebrity friends as it is in Thompson himself. Offering sometimes amusing anecdotes are several Hollywood stars such as Johnny Depp and Bill Murray (both of whom portrayed the author on film), along with political figures such as senators Gary Hart and George McGovern, literary luminary Tom Wolfe and Thompson’s illustrator-collaborator Ralph Steadman.
There are also some entertaining clips from the films Where The Buffalo Roam and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
What Buy The Ticket does not provide is much in the way of new insight into Thompson, who took his own life in 2005. — George Vernadakis
ONE PUNK UNDER GOD: THE PRODIGAL SON OF JIM AND TAMMY FAYE
Sundance Channel • Wed, Dec. 13 (9 p.m.)
As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Or, in the case of Sundance Channel’s One Punk Under God, don’t judge a man by his tattoos, piercings or parents. This six-part documentary series follows Jay Bakker, the punk minister son of “Praise the Lord” leaders Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, and his Atlanta-based alternative Christian ministry The Revolution.
On the personal front, there is Jay’s wife Amanda, a mental-health research associate; his mother, who is fighting cancer; and his estranged father, whose sex and fraud scandals were the PTL’s and the Bakker family’s undoing.
On the professional and spiritual side, Jay has to contend with the day-to-day challenges of running his Revolution church and the ensuing fallout from his defense of alternative lifestyles.
Standout moments include Jay’s visit to the now-derelict Heritage USA, a once hugely successful theme park that his parents created, and an on-air reunion with his father. — George Vernadakis
THE LOST ROOM
Sci Fi Channel • Dec. 11-13 (9 p.m.)
Sci Fi Channel’s latest high-profile miniseries, The Lost Room, attempts to combine the drama of The Fugitive with the supernatural elements of The Outer Limits to create a contemporary mystery with a sci-fi flavor.
The miniseries revolves around homicide detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause) who comes in contact with a magical key that opens any door — but leads to a mysterious 1960s vacant motel room in the Southwest. The key is one of several objects that hold mysterious powers, such as a bus ticket that can transport people cross country and a pen that can burn people alive. The key and other objects are coveted by several shadowy figures that will stop at nothing to collect all the pieces.
The plot gets thicker when Miller’s daughter, Anna (Elle Fanning), accidentally gets lost in the room, forcing him to confront its alternative universe to save his daughter while eluding police investigating his daughter’s disappearance in the real world.
Viewers not paying attention during the first episode could get lost trying to keep up with the various characters and objects that come in and out of the series. But the episode will also keep you desiring to find out how Miller eventually unlocks the secrets of the mysterious room.
Julianna Margulies (ER) and Kevin Pollak (The Usual Suspects) also star in the miniseries, which will air across three consecutive nights. — R. Thomas Umstead