Picks and Pans Review: Witness to the Execution

updated 02/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Feb. 13, 9 p.m. ET)


This suspense film set in the near future begins intriguingly as an exploration of just how far into ghoulishness the borders of "entertainment" can be pushed. A gaggle of TV pay-per-view executives settles on a radical strategy to entice a jaded viewing public: live executions.

Hollywood bad girl Sean Young, proving she's still capable of giving a terrific performance, is a shrewd corporate fast-tracker determined to sell the people what they want.

But after about 40 minutes, the film loses its thread completely. Suddenly we're watching a rather tepid mystery as Young begins to wonder whether the death-row convict (played by Wings' Tim Daly) she selected for the first broadcast actually committed the murders for which he is about to be electrocuted. A coworker justifiably gripes at Young's startling display of conscience, "It's a little late to get religion. You're the one who invented snuff TV."

This movie is like a sprinter that explodes out of the block and then blows a hamstring, limping painfully over the finish line. George Newbern, Len Cariou and Dee Wallace Stone costar.

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