Picks and Pans Review: The Right of the People

updated 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Mon., Jan. 13, 9 p.m. ET)


There is an awful temptation to say that the people who made this movie ought to be shot. But guns are not funny. Neither are guns proper material for another mindless TV movie such as this. Michael (Making Love) Ontkean plays a DA whose wife and daughter are killed by crazed gunmen. Ontkean is so enraged that he pushes a proposition onto his town ballot—Prop. G, for gun—that would allow every adult without a criminal or psychiatric record to carry a handgun. His rallying cry: "Guns don't start revolutions. They end them." The proposition passes. Crime all but disappears. Then a fight over cigar smoking in a restaurant ends with guns smoking. And Ontkean goes through a half-hearted—no, make that hundredth-hearted—reappraisal of what he's wrought. As drama, the show is worthless, lacking suspense, characters bigger than a BB or a single line without a cliché. But those are mere misdemeanors. The show's capital crime is the way in which it reduces an urgent debate over gun control to the intellectual level of the National Enquirer. Ontkean comes off as a dangerous lunatic. His opponents come off as wimps. Their strongest argument: "Oh, for pity's sake, since when does one wrong justify another?" No one has brains. No one is served. The Right of the People is already the worst show of 1986, and it would take something truly execrable—something like a sitcom set in Hitler's bunker—to wrest that title away. So when this show comes on the air, take your remote control and point it at the TV, like a gun. Ready! Aim! Change the channel!

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