Picks and Pans Review: God Bless the Child

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Mon., March 21, 9 p.m. ET)

F

If Charles Dickens had been a talentless hack of a moviemaker, Oliver Twist would have ended up looking like this. God Bless the Child takes on an issue that desperately needs attention in this country—poverty—but turns it into fodder for an incompetent melodrama that exploits the suffering of the poor and insults the intelligence of the audience. Mare Winningham stars as a poor single mother who loses her home to a wrecking ball, then loses her job as a maid. She and her little girl end up in dangerous shelters, then on the streets, then in a tenement where the kid gets hunted down by rats and poisoned by lead. Winningham and the kid are not characters, they are merely catalogs of urban ills. But as catalogs they're better off than their black neighbors, who are shocking racial stereotypes. On the first of the month, one black child goes running through the streets screaming, "Mama! Mama! The check is here!" What a crime.

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