Picks and Pans Review: Favorite Son

updated 10/31/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun.-Tues., Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 9 p.m. ET)

A

Just a week before the presidential election, NBC gives us a political miniseries about corruption, murder and kinky sex in the capital. But this is more than a mere thriller (though it is, unquestionably, thrilling). Favorite Son is also a thinker; it has the guts to say something unpleasant. It says that too often fools rule the world (not just Washington) while smart people become either corrupted or disillusioned. That picture isn't pretty but neither is it hopeless; this is, after all, network TV. Harry (L.A. Law) Hamlin plays a fool in power, a conservative, pretty-boy Senator who acquires insta-fame when, on live television, an assassin wounds him and kills a Nicaraguan contra. As an aide says, Hamlin is "young. He's quotable. The cameras love him. On TV, he looks like Rambo in pinstripes." So he becomes a contender for the Vice-Presidency. (Hamlin is better at this part than Dan Quayle is but he's still not as good as Oliver North would have been.) Linda {Crocodile Dundee) Kozlowski is the real power behind Hamlin—and one of the two real stars of the show. She plays a ruthless flack who manipulates her Senator and the media. She also is a participant in that kinky sex, which means she gets to wear wowy outfits. Her performance is worthy of a few wows too. Robert (Big) Loggia is the other real star; he's the snarling, cynical FBI agent who tracks down the assassin and speaks the harsh truths. "If the government worked the way it looked," Loggia says at the Washington Monument, "this could be a great country." And there are lots more fine performances: John (Moonstruck) Mahoney is super as a too-shrewd presidential aide; James Whitmore is, well, a good James Whitmore playing the President; Lance Guest is a cockeyed optimist of an FBI agent; Stephanie (Hunter) Kramer is a tough TV producer; Jason (Everything's Relative) Alexander is Hamlin's sniveling aide; Ronny (St. Elsewhere) Cox runs the CIA, and Kenneth McMillan rules the FBI. Former network and studio exec Steve Sohmer wrote the script and the 1987 novel on which it is based. And Jeff (Concealed Enemies) Bleckner does his usual, top-drawer job of directing. These people give you a super story, lots of excitement and some credit for intelligence. That's why Favorite Son is my favorite mini so far this season.

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