Picks and Pans Review: Great Performances: Seize the Day

updated 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Fri., May 1, 9 p.m. ET)

A

The joy in watching Robin Williams act is seeing how he throttles his engine, like a Lamborghini on speed bumps. In Moscow on the Hudson, he was almost calm. In The World According to Garp, he was merely manic. Here in Seize the Day—based on Saul Bellow's novel, his version of Death of a Salesman—-Williams plays a nebbish so nervous he looks as if he's ready to implode any second. He's lost his job selling kiddie furniture, then goes to New York in 1956 to search for work, to suffer the eternal disapproval of his father (Joseph Wiseman) and to lose money to Jerry Stiller as one loony shrink. In the role, Williams amazes, sweating, twitching, fidgeting, fretting. And in the background, you see weird touches that are as compelling in a flash as Williams is in the whole show. Bellow's story wallows in pity. So don't watch for the tale. Do watch for the tremendous, controlled energy coming from Williams and director Fielder (Evergreen) Cook.

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