ABC’s first stanza in its weekly “Family Movie” series proves a pedestrian number about a poor kid who’s a con artist and a wealthy, self-indulgent boy who share a name and find themselves mistaken for each other. The original vidpic, whose target audience stops at early adolescence, doesn’t bode well for ABC’s proclaimed family-fare concept.
Filmed in Jacksonville, Fla., by Louis Rudolph Family Films Inc. and Victor TV Prods. Inc. Executive producer, Louis Rudolph; producer, S. Bryan Hickox; director, Alan Metter; writer, Patrick J. Clifton; Patrick J. Clifton’s teleplay for “Summer Switch” places Fast Eddie Egan (Jason Weaver in a disarming perf) and unhappy Fred-erick Egan III (Rider Strong) in each other’s orbits by way of a confused-buses incident. The spoiled Egan III goes to a lakeside work camp where Fast Eddie’s supposed to be undergoing rehabilitation, and Fast Eddie finds himself at the “Reagan Suite” at the ritzy kids camp across the lake.
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Tough Sgt. Waldren (Casey Sander) commands the rehab camp where Egan III keeps protesting, and Fast Eddie begins to enjoy the soft life and pretty girls — especially Chris (Nicole Leach), who at first disdains him. The fancier camp’s chef, Jimmy (Richard Moll), who’s from the other side of the tracks himself, spots Fast Eddie as a fake. Liking him, he tells Fast Eddie to take in the good life but not the good people.
The antics are generally predictable, and director Alan Metter finds little vigor or original visual humor to lift the vidpic into jolly-good family entertainment. Tighe Swanson’s OK as an oddball named Ferret at the work camp, and Patrick Renna plays a purposeful, nasty rich boy who uses electronics to get what he wants at the snooty resort.
Family telepix don’t have to appeal to the sophomoric mind. Static scenes, used humor and foreseeable outcomes pretty much kayo “Summer Switch.” There’s even a climactic camp-vs.-camp basketball game with the two Freds playing crucial roles on their teams. Egan III’s estranged parents (Barry Williams of yesteryear’s “Brady Bunch,” Victoria Edwards) show up for the match, but their appearance signifies nothing.
Maybe ABC will look into heftier concepts, funny or adventurous or serious, for its original vidpix. It’d better.