In the CBS movie "Outback Bound," airing at 9 tonight on Channels 2 and 8, glamorous Donna Mills, star of the nighttime soap "Knots Landing," gets the chance to leave her designer clothes and eyeliner at home and rough it in the land Down Under.
But somehow, even in the wildest outback, Mills' eye makeup remains flawless and her suitcase is a veritable cornucopia of unwrinkled travel chic, despite brief digressions into jeans and a T-shirt.
Mills plays Samantha, a Beverly Hills gallery owner who, in one day, is swindled by her partner and cheated on by her husband. Feistily (Mills does everything in this film feistily), she decides to go to Australia to claim the opal mine left to her by her father.
Bad guys--headed by John Schneider, late of "Dukes of Hazzard"--are after the property and will stop at nothing, even murder, to get it. What's a girl to do?
Why, meet an intriguing, rugged Aussie (Andrew Clarke), start a combination aerobics class/women's liberation movement among the town's housewives and, with the help of a tame kangaroo, discover your father's journals that hold the key to all the bad guys' secrets.
And end up fabulously wealthy and wed, of course.
Luciano and Elizabeth Comici's script is meant to be tongue-in-cheek--when Samantha's make-up case is destroyed, she says, "I'm stuck on Mars and I don't even have lip gloss"--but this son-of-a-Roy Rogers-serial, directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, reaches ludicrous lows.
Those lows are never lower than when Schneider, in true Snively Whiplash/Little Nell fashion, kidnaps Mills and tries to force her to give him the deed to her property.
The fine Australian cast, particularly Clarke, John Meillon (" 'Crocodile' Dundee") and Collette Mann, give the film what substance it has. Their easy authenticity leaves Mills' and Schneider's one-note performances gasping in the Aussie dust.