Picks and Pans Review: The Sound and the Silence

updated 07/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

TNT (Sun., July 18, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

Strike No. 1: The title is portentous. Strike No. 2: The subject is the life of Alexander Graham Bell, which has already been served up in the 1939 Don Ameche movie The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. So your first instinct may be to skip over to, say, Saved by the Bell Joins the Army. Don't. This four-hour miniseries, a Canadian/Irish/New Zealand/American coproduction that concludes Monday, is amiable, and it boasts a remarkable performance by Vanessa Vaughan, a hearing-impaired actress who plays the young deaf woman who becomes Bell's wife. The first half, which covers Bell's childhood in Scotland, his work with the deaf in Boston and the development of the telephone, is livelier than the second, which has the inventor, now gray-bearded, noodling around with flight machines.

As the Scotsman Bell, New Zealander John Bach is better than okay, yet he never makes you feel you're in the presence of genius. Maybe that's because the phone is a technological wonder that we use today with so little thought.

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