Picks and Pans Review: First Steps
CBS (Tuesday, March 19, 9 p.m. ET)
As hokey as it may sound, here is a true story of the human spirit, of courage and triumph—a tearjerker, but one that jerks tears of joy. Judd Hirsch plays Dr. Jerrold Petrofsky, an eccentric prof, a nerd's nerd who gets sentimental about computers, who goes to a computer dating service because it's logical and "more efficient than hanging out in bars." In his work he experiments with small, computer-controlled electric shocks to stimulate muscles. With that technique, he tries to do for paralyzed humans what their brains can no longer do: make them walk. With Amy (For Love and Honor) Steel as the lovely, jocky Nan Davis—whose legs were paralyzed in an auto accident—he succeeds. Their story already has received lots of attention (on 60 Minutes, even) but that doesn't rob the movie of its drama. Hirsch and Steel make their characters electric without the aid of computers; the script and direction do the same for a tale that could be too technical. And the supporting cast—Kim (True Grit) Darby as Petrofsky's wife and James B. (Hill Street Blues) Sikking as Nan's father, to name two—does a fine job. There's just one complaint: Why do TV movies set in hospitals always use Marcus Welby music? That aside, First Steps is a top-notch TV film.
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