Picks and Pans Review: Don't Drink the Water

updated 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Sun., Dec. 18, 9 p.m. ET)

B

For reasons known only to him, Woody Allen has brought back his creaky 1966 Broadway play as a TV movie. He also directs and acts, portraying a caterer from New Jersey who is vacationing behind the Iron Curtain in 1961 with his wife (Julie Kavner) and daughter (Blossom's Mayim Bialik). Forced to take asylum in the American Embassy, they are the most petty and parochial trio ever to spark an international incident. Fueling the farce is the fact that the embassy is temporarily in the shaky hands of the ambassador's ne'er-do-well son (Michael J. Fox).

Both the humor and the politics are dated. (Even 30 years ago, I suspect, mah-jongg and Marxism must have made awkward gag partners.) And the camera work often is unhinged. The film's saving grace is a strong and game cast, including Edward Herrmann, Dom DeLuise and Austin Pendleton.

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