Picks and Pans Review: Right to Die
updated 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT
They've gone too far. The networks ran out of illnesses for disease-of-the-week movies, so now they've escalated to death-of-the-week movies. The true story told here is terribly painful, and that's just what makes Right To Die such an inappropriate and exploitive exercise in emotional voyeurism. Raquel Welch plays a psychology professor who contracts a fatal, degenerative disease. At first she clings to life and to her husband, Michael (Family Ties) Gross. But soon she can no longer breathe without a machine; she can barely talk; she becomes paralyzed. By then she wants to die. The script seems to have been written from an outline of a psychology textbook, moving swiftly through all the phases of death—denial, anger, acceptance and so on—with no humanity in between. Welch and Gross emote with overwritten lines: "I'm Cleopatra," Welch shouts, "queen of denial!...I'd cry, but I can't wipe my tears." Their kids get stuck with clichés: "What's dying?" And we get stuck watching until the very end, when a doctor turns off her respirator. If Right To Die took some stand and wanted us to do something, like change laws on euthanasia, then Raquel would not die in vain. But all the show wants us to do is see a woman suffer and die. Now that's sick.