Picks and Pans Review: Gotham

updated 08/22/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/1988 01:00AM

(Showtime, Sun., Aug. 21, 9 p.m. ET)

I was sitting at my desk reading the funnies when the call came. "I'm sending you a tape," said the doll on the other end of the horn, an original, two-hour, 1940s-style detective movie called Gotham, she explained. Would I take the case, which was black and made of plastic? Something in my crawl space said to make a run for it, get outta town for a while. Lay low. But I've always been a sucker for a flack with a three-quarter-incher. I took a shot of whiskey and said I'd check it out. She thanked me. They always do. Dolls are like that. Go figure. I went home to my walk-up. Took the phone off the hook. Closed the Venetian blinds. Put the tape on my VCR. "Here's looking at you," I said, lighting up a cigarette. I ain't no Freud, but for the next two hours I felt as if I'd been derailed in Squirrel Town. Set in modern Manhattan, Gotham is about a hard-boiled, down-on-his-luck gumshoe who falls passionately in love with a beautiful Park Avenue kinda dame whom he has been hired to investigate. Now this tomato has got a lot going for her, except one thing, pal. She's dead. Iced, Yesterday's fish wrapping, Tommy Lee Jones plays the private dick, Eddie Mallard, who begins to slowly suspect something's out of joint when he opens her Frigidaire and finds her inside taking a snooze. This is one cool blond. Virginia (Mr. North) Madsen plays Rachel Carlyle, the ghostess with the mostest who's come back to earth to spook her husband. She's some dish, all right, the blue-plate special. When she walks into a room, smoke alarms go off. Although Eddie's working for Rachel's former husband, they have an erotic affair. And I do mean erotic, with full frontal nudity. Be warned, Gotham contains some pretty strong language too. (I catch anyone showing this tape to my sainted Irish mother, I'll bust 'em in the chops.) You got your atmospheric lighting, dazzling costumes and smoky sound track. But what you ain't got in Gotham is a clever, credible mystery. Beautiful but empty. Reminds me of this doll I once tailed in Frisco. But that's another story. It always is.

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