Picks and Pans Review: American Playhouse: Testament

updated 11/26/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/26/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Monday, Nov. 26, 9 p.m. ET)

This made-for-PBS movie, which first appeared in theaters, is an understated attempt to do what The Day After did: scare the pants off of you about nuclear war. But it's too understated. Before the blast, Jane Alexander, William Devane and their three children lead a normal California life. Afterward, life remains too eerily normal. The only difference seems to be that radiation has ruined the neighborhood. Sure, people die—1,300, you're told—but by then you've seen only one funeral. The cast is topflight (Alexander was deservedly nominated for an Oscar) and the script has its moments. But in the end, Testament is not troubling enough. In it, death has no sting, only a dull ache.

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