In 1982 E.T. mania was washing over the world. You could not turn on the news without an interview or news report about how awesome the little alien was. Much like Star Wars, E.T. was a phenomenon and just like they did with Star Wars they needed to capitalize on the fame right quick. What better way to do that, than with a hastily thrown together television special. “E.T. and Friends: Magical Movie Visitors” is that hastily thrown together special. Hosted by Mork from Ork himself, Robin Williams, the special follows the evolution of America’s perception of aliens culminating with our new undying devotion to our extraterrestrial messiah, E.T.
The special starts with some behind the scenes footage of the making of the movie. Mostly showing Spielberg directing his child actors. Let me tell you, that young Drew Barrymore really knows how to cry and is absolutely adorable. The we get some Williams, who is shot out of a cannon, riffing on all things space and E.T. Williams is supposed to represent the average American as he explains how he was frightened of aliens when he was younger and by saying this, he infers that perhaps his opinion has changed and that maybe it has to do with a certain alien?
A highlight of these early scenes is when William mentions that a drink has been named after E.T. and they cut to a shot of it being made, then a guy in an E.T. mask picks it up to drink it, but he is not E.T. he is some guy in a suit, in an E.T. mask. Priceless.
This is only recipe I can find for an E.T.:
1 part Vodka
2 parts Cream Liqueur
2 parts Melon Liqueur
Once they give us a taste of the E.T. landscape its all clips of Williams narrating, punctuated by largely improvised skits. Some are OK, like the cameo by Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Laraine Newman as the Coneheads and others, like the used space vehicle scene, are just wonderfully cheesy. Its a dog in a mask! Yes!
The special culminates in a rather nice “moment” as E.T. approaches Williams as they float, via the magic of green, screen over L.A. at night. Williams asks E.T where he is going. Of course he warbles, “Home”. He then asks Williams to come, which of course he does. They then walk into the darkness together. Williams is now obviously in control of his fear, just as E.T. now controls the hearts of all Americans. I think you might need to see this for yourself.
Pretty sweet, huh? Well since you may not be able to see enjoy the magic that is “E.T. and Friends: Magical Movie Visitors” anytime soon, please enjoy this gallery of screen captures. Its fairly robust.
Special thanks to Doug, a reader of the site, who sent me a copy of this hard to get special, thus making my month worthwhile.