In the endless quest for pandemic entertainment, the morbidly curious may land on a franchise that seems to operate on the most unpromising of concepts. Nevertheless, Lifetime’s Stalked by My Doctor films, three of which are streaming on Prime, deliver the goods. And Stalked by My Doctor: The Return, a 2016 variation, cooks up a particularly unlikely recipe for success: pancakes and Eric Roberts. It’s delicious.

Roberts is an inconsistent veteran who will clearly do anything for a paycheck, like making slurping sounds as the voice of a talking cat in a David DeCoteau throwaway. But writer-director Doug Campbell, whose DeCoteau-like output includes 15 made-for-TV features in the past five years alone, gives Roberts the opportunity to embrace his inner ham; the actor smokes, glazes and carves it out with voracious gusto.

In each of the Stalked pictures, Roberts stars as Dr. Albert Beck, a Los Angeles heart surgeon who, in the first installment, becomes obsessed with a teenage patient after he saves her life. Beck just doesn’t know how to charm the ladies; he’s wealthy and successful and lives in a huge mansion, but he’s always trying too hard, frightening prospective mates away with his awkward desperation.

The Stalked films revolve around a timely concern indeed: the dangers faced by young women pursued by powerful older men. Campbell and his marquee star turn this sordid phenomenon into delirious soap opera-cum-revenge thrillers. Return opens with Beck having relocated to Acapulco, on the lam and living under an assumed name, thanks to a little matter of kidnapping his teenaged patient in the previous film.

At least Beck starts out hitting on an age-appropriate prospect; but that’s part of his pathology; as in the first film, his attempts to connect to his own age group strike out. Here, he’s walking the beach when a lifeguard runs from the sea carrying Amy Watkins (Claire Blackwelder), a young girl who’s nearly drowned. Beck saves Amy’s life and, naturally, falls for her. But the only way Beck can get close to Amy is to make a play for her mother Linda (Hilary Greer). So the errant doctor courts the elder Watkins—with an ulterior motive that’s all too clear to everyone but her.

Part of the sick pleasure that the Stalked movies impart is in the fantasy sequences where Beck images the young objects of his affection casting impropriety to the wind and throwing themselves at his elder masculinity. Roberts walks a tricky line here; he’s a cad and a villain, but somehow that intermittent charisma comes through his portrayal of an awkward psychopath. If he doesn’t get the Nicolas Cage-level freak-out scene here that makes the first Stalked movie the most enjoyable, he does get the best shot in any of the films, and one of the most hilarious images in cinema.

Its set-up is the typical mix of uncomfortable humor that makes the series so much inappropriate fun. Beck has snuck into the Watkins’ home to spike Amy’s favorite sports drink with something that will make her sick. When Amy turns violently ill, Linda of course calls Beck, who promises to head over right away. But he takes his time, and as we watch him getting ready to eat his breakfast, we see the depth of his depravity: on his plate, he has spelled out Amy’s name with pancakes, and pours maple syrup over it with glee.

The series continues for two more films, with Patient’s Revenge, from 2018, throwing in a dual role with Roberts playing his own conscience. The tetralogy ends, for now, with A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare; written and directed by Jeff Hare, this one has Beck in a new job at a sleep clinic, and his first patient happens to be a beautiful younger woman who suffers from a disorder that causes her to have sleep sex. The doctor’s methodology having been established, Stalked by My Doctor: The Return is in some ways more predictable and less satisfying than the inspired series start. But you will never forget those pancakes.

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