Picks and Pans Review: At Mother's Request

updated 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun. & Tues., Jan. 4 & 6, 9 p.m. ET)


Oh, boy, another true story about psychotic murderers. Gather the kids around the electronic hearth, it's family entertainment time! Stefanie Powers plays Frances Schreuder, a socialite mom who acts like a sadistic prison matron to her three kids. At the slightest provocation, she locks her kids out and locks herself in the bathroom to overdose on drugs. But don't worry, says one son, "she won't die; she never takes enough." She forces her sons—Doug (On Golden Pond) McKeon and Corey (Courage) Parker—to steal cash, stocks, bonds and blank checks from her miserly dad, E.G. Marshall. Then she makes McKeon kill Marshall. But Powers isn't the only nut in this family. McKeon acts like a chronic wimp, Parker like a drooling idiot, Marshall like the greediest man alive or dead and Frances Sternhagen (as Powers' mom) like a shrieking pain in the rump. The problem with these shows about dangerous loons is: If we can see immediately how insane these people are, why can't the people in the show see it? Powers and her relatives are so gratingly bonkers from the start that it's hard to care who kills whom in this clan. Until the end, when McKeon has to decide whether to testify against his mom, there's no sleuthing, no suspense. The script is sloppy throughout, forgetting characters and their motives for long stretches. Later this season, we'll see how NBC does with the exact same murder case in their miniseries starring Lee Remick. Guess that's good news: There just aren't enough psychotic murderers to go around.

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