Chanticleer Films' worthy Discovery Program, which hosted the 1987 "Ray's Male Heterosexual Dance Hall" and this year's Oscar-winner "Session Man," among other treasures, again shores up the short-story-style TV form with Dean Pitchford's worthy "The Washing Machine Man," a rich paean to trust and understanding. It's another sterling sample of what TV can do.

Chanticleer Films’ worthy Discovery Program, which hosted the 1987 “Ray’s Male Heterosexual Dance Hall” and this year’s Oscar-winner “Session Man,” among other treasures, again shores up the short-story-style TV form with Dean Pitchford’s worthy “The Washing Machine Man,” a rich paean to trust and understanding. It’s another sterling sample of what TV can do.

Aging Ethel (Erica Yohn), put off by retired husband Eddie (Jeff Corey) and his studied indifference after all these years, tries everything from teasing him with her version of “You Tickle My Fancy” to a candlelight supper (he switches on the lights), but he’s unresponsive.

He won’t even repair her washing machine.

Ethel, egged on by a lifelong friend (Eda Reiss Merin), brings in another man , widower Mordy (Allan Rich), to stir up some jealousy.

The results are to be reckoned with.

Writer Pitchford, who directed to telling effect, plays out his kitchen-sink exercise with a commendable grasp on his characters. Yohn’s laundromat version of “Tickle” is a delight, even with its unhappy consequences; Pitchford and Corey make Eddie’s weariness all but palpable.

Yohn sparks the brief drama with an evocative, see-through perf that goes to the core of Ethel’s character. Acting among the others is superior. All tech credits are excellent; the production’s first class.

Too bad the nets and independent channels don’t come up with individual half-hour dramas like those surfacing in Chanticleer’s Discovery Program. Such kite-flying could sure add class–and interest–to commercial programming.

Showtime 30-Minute Movie the Washing Machine Man

(Fri. (14), 7-7:30 p.m., Showtime)

Production

Filmed around Southern California by Chanticleer Films in association with Fried Films Inc. Exec producers, Jonathan Sanger, Jana Sue Memel, Rob Fried; supervising producer, Steve Hewitt; producer, Robert J. Degus; co-producer, Tom Koranda; director-writer, Dean Pitchford.

Crew

Camera, Eric J. Goldstein; editor, Melissa Bretherton; art director, Evette Siegel; sound, Paul Coogan; music, Tom Snow; "You Tickled My Fancy," Snow, Pitchford; production designers, Phillip Vasels, Diane Hughes.

Cast

Cast: Jeff Corey, Eda Reiss Merin, Allan Rich, Erica Yohn.
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