The international superstar Michael Jackson (Flex Alexander) has had his ups and downs in his career, and his personality disorders may well be traced back to his relationship with his father Joseph (Frederic Tucker) who ordered him around since he was a little boy and gaining his first number one hits with his brothers in the Jackson 5. But even with the success, Joseph did not stop haranguing him about getting it through his thick head and his big nose that his father was the boss, forcing him to stick with the family band when Michael wanted to embark on a solo career after his Off the Wall album was such a blockbuster. Now it is time for the follow up, Thriller, and this will cause yet more friction...
Movies made for television tend to be based on true stories, or at least that was the case by the twenty-first century where it seemed you could not move for adaptations torn from the headlines littering the TV schedules, and one of the American channels getting in on the act was VH-1 which offered the world versions of the Def Leppard story or the MC Hammer story widely regarded as some of the worst dramas ever made both by the fans and casual observers. Not that this stopped them getting produced, indeed a few short years later it seemed the manufacturers of these travesties were behaving badly deliberately simply to get the viewing figures up from audiences who tuned in to be offended by their ineptitude.
On the other hand, Man in the Mirror looked to have been produced with utter sincerity - sincerity to cash in on the then-current court case which saw its subject indicted on various charges related to the abuse of children. That's right, they didn't even wait for the results, possibly because nobody would have the stomach to watch this if the King of Pop had actually been convicted and they were afraid of losing their potential profits. Here the highlights, but mostly lowlights, of Jackson's life as lived in the glare of the media spotlight were recreated as cheaply as possible, with the notorious plastic surgery episodes having no effect on Michael other than making his face turn an alarming shade of grey-blue, topped off with long wigs and scarlet lipstick.
So Jackson's infamous nose looked entirely unchanged by all his time under the knife, though that was the least of the work's problems since Flex Alexander not only didn't look like who he was supposed to be, he didn't sound or even move like him either, the trademark dance moves carried off with more aspiration than skill. In fact, we had to be told who everyone was meant to be portraying, from the wobbly headed Elizabeth Taylor (Lynne Cormack) to the ghost of Diana Ross whose face keeps hoving into view in moments of crisis to offer succour, yet not in real life leading us to believe she is in fact dead and returned in Obi-Wan Kenobi spirit form. To cut more corners, director Allan Moyle, who had a fairly respectable career prior to this fiasco, edited in news footage ranging from the fans averring their support for their beleagured hero to Jackson hanging the baby over the balcony.
Needless to say, something this egregious didn't go unnoticed for long, attaining a near-legendary status of shite equated with the equally infamous After Diff'rent Strokes: When the Laughter Stopped and a position in the entertainment firmament achieved by so bad they're good baubles, leaving many a viewer helpless with laughter. Not Jackson, though, who was reportedly very unhappy with the TV movie, probably less thanks to the tatty production and more to do with the attempts to be evenhanded when considering his habit of hanging out with kids to the extent of going to bed with them. To sleep. Nevertheless, the subject in hand may have been unsavoury, but this was so shoddy that it became weirdly compelling in a way that had you pondering, they couldn't have expected us to take this seriously, could they? From idiotic dialogue ("He'll crap up a lung!") to dreadful looky-likeys and farcical recreations (Joe polishing his Uzi, Michael getting spiritual with his white offspring moments after nearly killing his youngest) and none of the famous music, this was stupendously awful.