Picks and Pans Review: The Fortunate Pilgrim

UPDATED 04/04/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/04/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun., April 3, 9 p.m. ET)

F

Never has so much tedium been crammed into so little time. At only five hours, The Fortunate Pilgrim is far from the longest miniseries ever made. It just seems like it. Sophia Loren stars in this spaghetti soap produced by her husband, Carlo Ponti, and her stepson, Alex, 36. She plays an Italian immigrant to New York who has as many traumas as she has children but who still acquires her one dream in life: a house on Long Island. At the start of the show, her first husband dies in an explosion, giving Loren a chance to scream and have nightmares from which she awakes asking, "What's going to happen now?" I'll tell you what happens now—a fate worse than insomnia. She marries Edward James (Miami Vice) Olmos, the closest thing the acting profession has to statuary. He just stands there—I'm amazed that pigeons do not alight on his skull—until he goes crazy and gets his chance to scream as he's hauled away by men in white coats. Next Loren gets sick only so Hal Holbrook can appear in a cameo as a doctor who falls in love with her. The plot, allegedly taken from Mario (The Godfather) Puzo's first novel, is at best nonexistent, at worst nonsensical. Just about the only good thing I can say about the writing is that it's clichéd: "We're at war, Mom," Sophia's son announces on Pearl Harbor day. Mom replies, "Sit down, your food is getting cold." And when that son returns from the war, Sophia cries, "You're so thin!" The production value isn't up to the level of a low-budget kung fu movie: Whenever tragedy strikes, the camera zooms in on Loren's face so fast that I get motion sickness. Everyone's voice sounds dubbed. And the sets look like tacky plastic molds from a cheap model train set. The Fortunate Pilgrim=The Unfortunate Viewer.

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