Picks and Pans Review: Hands of a Stranger

updated 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun.-Mon., May 10-11, 9 p.m. ET)

C-

This one has all the earmarks of a bad made-for-cable movie: a sick crime (rape), cold-souled cops, lots of sex, little love, all shot on low-budget location in Canada. But this is a network miniseries. In an adaptation of Robert Daley's 1985 book, Armand (Rage of Angels) Assante plays a cop who cares more about his badge than his wife, Beverly D'Angelo. So she lets herself be tempted into a hotel tryst with her son's high school coach. D'Angelo chickens out but just as she tries to leave the hotel room, a rapist enters and performs no end of unspeakable acts. Assante almost ruins his career as he secretly, obsessively hunts the rapist. Meanwhile, he helps Assistant D.A. Blair (Space) Brown go after another bunch of rapists who videotape their crimes. The show has problems aplenty: Assante displays zero sympathy for D'Angelo. He shows no emotion, so he shows no motive for anything he does. Brown's D.A. comes off like a sexist's caricature of a career woman: hard and inhuman. Plots get dropped for long stretches. The sex scenes are implausible. The rape scenes are just too sick. In the last hour, the story finally gets watchable as all the characters stretch their webs of deception. But it's too late.

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