Many people are familiar with Rod Serling thanks to his famous "Twilight Zone" episodes, which are considered by many to be classic sci-fi. Like Stephen King writing the dramas "Shawshank Redemption" and "Hearts in Atlantis", Serling also had a few more serious pieces up his sleeve, such as "A Storm in Summer". One of Showtime's series produced by the Hallmark company, the channel has certainly gathered a fine amount of talent to make this a highly enjoyable feature.
Directed by "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" director Ray Wise (who is still directing, even in his 80's), the film stars Peter Falk as Abel Shaddick, a deli owner in New York City who finds out that his nephew agreed to sponsor a young African-American child from Harlem. He disagrees at first, telling the program sponsors that his nephew (Andrew McCarthy) has skipped out on the project, but once the kid, Herman D. Washington (Aaron Meeks) arrives, his friendship with the young man grows stronger.
The performances in "A Storm in Summer" are really excellent. Falk's character has some delightfully funny lines early in the picture. Where these kinds of characters are usually grumpy and angered at those around them, Falk gives the character depth and humanity, while also providing the snippy lines with perfect timing. 80's star McCarthy thankfully is not around too much as the nephew; he's a convincing jerk, but his performance is the least interesting in the picture. Aaron Meeks also makes a strong debut as Herman, a cynical, street-smart kid who gradually learns to befriend the older man. Director Wise has helmed enough films to have a terrific sense of tone, which is still in evidence here, as the film never becomes too sappy.
VIDEO: Showtime presents "Storm in Summer" in the film's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. As with the other Showtime releases that I've seen, the company provides consistently very good, although not quite great, transfers. Sharpness and detail throughout this particular film were very good, as only a few scenes here and there seemed slightly soft in comparison.
As previously noted, the picture quality is very good, although not quite great. Some minor artifacts were noticed, but the print used was in excellent condition, with no specks or other marks. Colors looked bright and vivid, with no instances of smearing or other faults. While not perfect, this smaller title has gotten a fine effort from Showtime.
SOUND: The 2.0 soundtrack is almost completely dialogue-driven, with the exception of a nice background score that occasionally drops in. Oddly, the audio seemed unusually quiet, requiring turning up the volume to consistently hear dialogue.
MENUS: Some minor animation livens otherwise rather ordinary backgrounds.
EXTRAS: Filmographies, trailers for other Showtime releases and a photo gallery.
Final Thoughts: "A Storm In Summer" is a great little film about friendship, complete with fine performances. Showtime's DVD presents the film with good audio and video, although nothing much in terms of supplements. Recommended as at least a rental.