Picks and Pans Review: Baby Brokers

updated 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Mon., Feb. 21, 9 p.m. ET)

B-

Cybill Shepherd plays a single woman in her 40s desperate to adopt a child. Through a classified ad, she contacts a shady couple (Tom O'Brien and Nina Siemaszko) with a baby on the way, brings them to Los Angeles and agrees to pay all their living expenses. Meal-ticket city! While these low-life opportunists are bilking Shepherd (who is curiously gullible for a psychologist), they're also stringing along, and extorting money from, several couples in other cities with the promise that the baby will be theirs.

Actually Law & Order covered this same plot a few weeks ago far more effectively than this hammy fact-based project does. After grinding our tender parental feelings through the wringer for two solid hours, the film ends happily as Shepherd gets a baby, a boyfriend, a rapprochement with her mother and just about everything else her little heart has ever desired, this side of Bruce Willis. Who does she have to thank? Hard Copy, which televises her plight. Ah, yes, tabloid television: avenger of the aggrieved.

Shepherd seems to be sleepwalking through the role. O'Brien and Siemaszko bring a good deal more energy and conviction to their parts as the unscrupulous baby makers. (Siemaszko resembles a cross between Roseanne Arnold and Shannen Doherty, if you can picture that dangerously volatile hybrid.) The cast also includes Jeffrey Nordling, Anna Maria Horsford and Joseph Maher.

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