Back in the 1980s, primetime TV was filled with pretty people cheating on each other. Now a cable series puts some of the '80s actors into true stories of sex and betrayal. "Heartbreakers" (10 p.m. Wednesdays on Investigation Discovery) gets confusing because of late switches in episodes; still, it's fun in its own, odd way. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
For cable-TV, the 1980s are like some of the sillier toys on
a basement shelf. Every now and then, it’s nice to pull them out and play with
That’s sort of what the “Heartbreakers” series does. “You
have Carol Seaver involved in a tawdry love triangle,” producer Pamela Deutsch
said. “You have Peter Brady doing some really naughty things.”
Well, sort of. One episode has Tracey Gold (Carol in “Growing
Pains”) as a school secretary who had affairs with the principal (Christopher
Knight, who was Peter in “The Brady Bunch”) and the gym coach (Antonio Sabato).
It’s a true story that shattered two marriages and left one person dead.
Other stories also have stars -- Jack Wagner, Rob Estes,
Jamie Luner, Nicole Eggert – from TV’s past. Many, Deutsch said, are from “sort
of the golden age of the primetime soap.”
It was an era of gorgeous people cheating on one another.
That fits the three-week “Heartbreakers,” which Henry Schleiff, Investigation
Discovery’s president, calls “completely over-the-top entertainment.”
The key was to find true stories that feel as odd as an ‘80s
soap. In one, a charismatic pastor had a decade-long affair with the wife of
his finance chairman. In another, a new husband tried to convince his wife that
they weren’t really broke; it was just a ploy, he said, because he worked for
There are re-enactments, plus news footage of the real
people and memories from their friends, relatives, reporters and more. “To see
footage of the real people, it’s really touching,” Eggert said.
That also kept things from getting too silly, Gold said. “It
is real life (with) real people and you don’t want to approach it as a joke.”
Still, the humor comes through because romance is clumsy. Eggert
attests to that from her own life: “Relationships are hard …. I’ve never been
married and I have two kids.”
(Some sources list a brief marriage, but Eggert said it didn’t
happen – further proof that life is strange.)
Now these actors can tackle perverse characters. “It was a
wonderful opportunity to play off-type,” Knight said. “(Or) maybe this is my
He’s had scattered roles over the years, but realizes that
Peter Brady dominates. “I’ve reached a peace with it …. He’s always in the room
before I get there.”
Sorbo said he’s happy to have 12 years of “Hercules” and “Andromeda”
overemployment, plus “all these movies over this last decade.” And now he plays
the private-eye who tells Eggert that her husband isn’t really in the CIA; he’s
just another scheming heartbreaker.
“Heartbreakers,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays on
Investigation Discovery, rerunning at 1 a.m. and then at 7 p.m. Saturdays.
The show has been hampered by late switching of
episodes. Current plans have Jack Wagner, Jamie Luner and Rob Estes this week;
Aug. 27 has Nicole Eggert, Judd Nelson and Kevin Sorbo.
All three episodes are scheduled to rerun from
1-4 p.m. Aug. 31; the third is the series opener (Tracey Gold, Christopher Knight,
Antonio Sabato), currently set for 2 p.m.