28 October 2002 | petershelleyau
Lindsay Wagner is Callie Martha Lord from Chillacott, Texas who moves to Dallas after giving up her son for black market adoption. Whilst working as a waitress she meets the Dallas Post Despatch newspaper editor Randall Bordeaux (Dabney Coleman) whom she marries. Randall locates Callie's adopted son Randy (Jameson Parker), and she succeeds Randall as editor, however Callie's ambition for Randy is ruined by his wife Sue Lynn (Michelle Pfeiffer), with Randy on trial for murder.
The treatment is noteworthy as a role for which Wagner abandons her customary long blonde hair. Her Callie is a brunette, who changes from a wavy long style to a short mannish cut and ends with a straight pageboy bob with grey touches and shadows under her eyes to indicate aging. Callie is seen as a court reporter wearing spinster spectacles, in a tacky orange ball gown, and black widow weeds and sunglasses. Wagner's makes amusing use of her southern accent, and is touching with Randy as a child, but the few times where she has long hair she does her flicking mannerism. She is good with indignation eg `Who bore him?!' and `Who is this child?!', when crying with `Why did God wait so long to punish me?', and spits out a whipped `Why?' in a hospital scene. In a trial she chews on her lips, and there is an off-camera big scream. At one point Wagner runs a champagne glass over her lips as she looks at Randy, and in her last scene with Parker, she gives a look of terror to `Do you hate me?'.
It's interesting to compare the acting styles of Wagner with the practically unrecognisable chubby-cheeked Pfeiffer, particularly in one confrontation scene. Wagner is all controlled technique whilst the novice Pfeiffer has a preferable messy emotionalism.
The teleplay by Thomas Thompson is mediocre, using a narration by Kimble Smythe (Andrew Pine) who is barely around and giving Callie a life long friend in Jeannie (Joy Garrett). Thompson tries for a gothic tone in the tale, closing with a cyclic act, with the shootings paralled with that of JFK. However the Mildred Pierce association, where a movie marquee shows it playing, doesn't quite work. The dialogue is soap opera cornball, with `She crossed the line between possession and obsession', `Please don't waste your love on a woman who can't accept it', and `It takes a whole lot more courage to die than go on living on the instalment plan'.
Director Waris Hussein only enlivens trial scenes, which border on camp, cutting to Callie's reactions, and he uses the spinning newspaper edit. To his credit, however, he freezes on television footage of JFK before we see him in the car at the airport, and we aren't shown the shooting of someone who gets it in the face.