Picks and Pans Review: Born Too Soon

updated 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun., April 25, 9 p.m. ET)

B-

In this docudrama, Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop) plays Elizabeth Mehren, an East Coast correspondent for the Los Angeles Times married to New York Times journalist Fox Butterfield (played by Law & Order's Michael Moriarty). In her 40s and pregnant with her first child. Mehren is on a plane when her water breaks prematurely. The baby, a girl, is born at 25 weeks, weighing 1lb. 11oz., and is placed immediately in a neonatal intensive-care unit.

Reed and Moriarty are thrust into the emotionally precarious position of parents of a preemie, with all its attendant uncertainty and anguish. Their own doctor cautions them not to get too attached to their tiny infant as it struggles to survive inside a plastic cubicle, hooked up to life-support systems.

Reed, at the end of her rope, confides to a colleague (Joanna Gleason), "I look at her sometimes, and you know what I see? I see a voodoo doll...pins stuck everywhere. Her heels are bruised from the puncture wounds. I've never seen her face without a hose or tape across her mouth. And I have never heard my own baby cry." As the days drag into months and the medical bills mount, the tension begins to tell on their marriage.

The film, based on Mehren's book of the same name, is well-acted, particularly by Moriarty, who gives a convincing portrait of an emotionally reserved man hiding in his work. As you might surmise from the subject matter, the scale of the project is, by TV standards, small, delicate, painful and personal.

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