Picks and Pans Review: Conspiracy: the Trial of the Chicago 8

updated 05/18/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/18/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sat., May 16, 10 p.m. ET)

B

Somebody got a new toy, a video gizmo that lets a director freeze, silhouette or superimpose TV pictures anywhere—onto walls, books or even onto other TV pictures. Too bad. All this distracting TV trickery only pock-marks what could have been a super show. In this dramatization of the infamous trial of the Chicago 8—Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale et al—there are moments rousing enough to make children of the '60s sell their stock, resole their sandals and take to the streets again. The defendants came to court to be tried for inciting riots at the '68 Democratic Convention. Instead, they put the government and its Vietnam War on trial. These days, now that the nation has grown into the '80s, the '60s can be made to sound a little silly. But not here. Conspiracy puts the Chicago 8's antics, hysterics and speeches into context—in their time and in this courtroom—and makes them sound very serious. The show does them justice. You see fine performances from Peter Boyle, Robert Carradine, Michael Lembeck, Carl Lumbly, Robert Loggia, Elliott Gould and the rest of the cast. You hear reminiscences from the real defendants and lawyers. And, with scenes like the gagging of defendant Seale, you see more action here than you'll ever see in a courtroom—which is precisely why it makes no sense for the director to ruin the drama with his gee-whiz gadgetry.

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