7 June 2002 | Victor Field
The battle of all (well, two) mothers has begun...
"Switched at Birth" (or "Mistaken Identity," as it's known in some English-speaking countries outside the US) is a decent TV movie that takes a restrained look at a topic played for laughs in "Big Business" and for horror in "The Omen": happily married Melissa Gilbert and separated Rosanna Arquette give birth in the same hospital at the same time, but their newborn sons get the wrong ID tags, leading to trouble for both families in the months to come.
When this first aired on American TV, someone on the Internet suggested that having Rosanna play one of the two main roles was "throwing men a bone," but even if the charming Miss Arquette wasn't in it the movie would have been a perfectly acceptable way of killing an hour and a half (which is not to say she wasn't a key factor in my tuning in). Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner's script tries to avoid melodrama, and if it doesn't always succeed it does keep away from the suds long enough to make it moving instead of nauseating. Though one wishes Arquette's ex-husband had a bit more dimension to him like Grace's similarly inclined ex on "Grace Under Fire," at least the tale isn't muckraking.
All in all, a higher quality than Douglas Barr experienced when he was in front of the camera on "The Fall Guy." Viewers looking to be disturbed, however, will have to settle for Melissa Gilbert's appearance - Rosanna Arquette is actually five years older than the Artist Formerly Known As Halfpint, but you'd never guess it from the evidence displayed here.