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THE TV COLUMN

Flowers in the Attic remake well above average

By Michael Storey

This article was published January 16, 2014 at 3:14 a.m.

ellen-burstyn-left-and-heather-graham-star-in-the-lifetime-movie-flowers-in-the-attic-at-7-pm-saturday

Ellen Burstyn (left) and Heather Graham star in the Lifetime movie Flowers in the Attic at 7 p.m. Saturday.

They had me at Ellen Burstyn.

Then they sealed the deal with Kiernan Shipka.

We’re talking about the latest Lifetime Original Movie. Flowers in the Attic airs at 7 p.m. Saturday and is fairly juicy, even by Lifetime standards.

No. Wait. Come to think of it, Flowers in the Attic is perfect for Lifetime - battered women, endangered kids, forbidden love - only this offering is several notches above average thanks to a stellar cast.

Adapted from V.C. Andrews’ hugely popular 1979 novel of the same name, the Lifetime version doesn’t shy away from the main aspect that raised eyebrows in ’79 and was ignored by the 1987 film that starred Louise Fletcher and Kirsty Swanson.

Incest always raises a few eyebrows.

Set in the 1950s, Flowers in the Attic comes with the tagline “The Book You Were Forbidden to Read.” It weaves the twisted tale of the four blond Dollanganger siblings who, after the sudden accidental death of their father, are convinced by their greedy mother Corrine (Heather Graham) to stay hidden (and locked away) in the attic of their wealthy grandparents’ mansion so she can reclaim the family fortune.

Over time, Corrine’s visits become less frequent as her life begins to revolve around a new husband (Dylan Bruce, Orphan Black). The children endure cruel, cruel treatment at the hands of their abusive, sadistic grandmother Olivia Foxworth (Burstyn).

“I make the rules in this house,” Olivia growls. “And I execute the punishment.”

It gets worse.

As time passes, the two eldest children Cathy (Shipka) and Christopher (newcomer Mason Dye) mature, emotionally and physically, and their family’s tortured past causes them to look to each other for comfort.

Forbidden stuff happens.

Most viewers recognize the name of Oscar-winner Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore). She’s been nominated five other times: Requiem for a Dream, Resurrection, The Last Picture Show, The Exorcist and Same Time, Next Year.

Graham was in such memorable films as Drugstore Cowboy, Boogie Nights and The Hangover. However, her ABC sitcom, Emily’s Reasons Why Not, has the infamous distinction of lasting only one episode before being canned in 2006.

Shipka’s name still may be unfamiliar, but not for long.The 14-year-old portrays Dan Draper’s daughter Sally on AMC’s Mad Men. Keep an eye on her career. She’s going places.

Flowers in the Attic is rated TV-14 because, as director Deborah Chow told Entertainment Weekly, “The script is faithful to the book.”

Advance warning. Lifetime will feature another movie star, Christina Ricci (Mermaids, Black Snake, Moan), in a made-for-TV movie on Jan. 25. Lizzie Borden Took an Ax just may be as cheesy as it sounds. I haven’t previewed it yet.

Ricci’s 2011 ABC drama, Pan Am, began with a promising 11 million viewers, but had plummeted to a paltry 3.7 million before the network pulled the plug.

Under the Gunn. Attention Tim Gunn fans. Gunn assembles Project Runway veterans Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos to mentor 15 young hopefuls in yet another twist on the designer competition format. The new series debuts at 8 p.m. today on Lifetime.

They’re baaaaack. TLC ushers in a new Thursday lineup beginning tonight.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premieres Season 3 at 8 p.m., followed by Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor at 9.

This season, Mama June puts the stress of her wedding behind her and settles in for a summer with the kids out of school. The first episode features “a bizarre family road trip that will go down in reality television history.”

Hmm.

There will be 12 episodes plus three specials this season.

Meanwhile at the trailer park, the residents’ plans go awry when “an intense rivalry erupts between Myrtle Manor and fellow trailer park, Village Creek, as each tries to prove that it is the best trailer park in town.”

Teaser: “Amanda makes a move for the sexy new trailer park handyman, Brock. Miss Peggy also has the hots for the 23-year-old!”

This, America, is what we’ve come to. If you watch these shows, it’ll be two hours of your life you can never get back.

Walking Dead. For those who can’t wait for the return of the AMC hit series at 8 p.m. Feb. 9, there’s a quick fix on the Dead website, amctv.com.

The new midseason poster shows a determined Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) traipsing down a railroad track following the attack on and destruction of their prison home.

The tagline: “Don’t Look Back.”

While you’re there, play The Walking Dead Survival Game. Answer seven questions to see how long you’d last in the zombie apocalypse.

I only scored 18 months. I guess I’m not ruthless enough. The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 01/16/2014

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