Picks and Pans Review: In a Child's Name

updated 11/18/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/18/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun., Nov. 17, 9 P.M. ET)

C

Based on the nonfiction crime book by Peter Maas about a New Jersey dentist who kills his wife, this misshapen four-hour film stars Valerie Bertinelli as a woman who fights to see her monstrous brother-in-law (Twin Peaks' Michael Ontkean) put away for her sister's murder.

Ontkean has always been a rather vacuous actor, but that works to his advantage here, allowing the viewer to read all kinds of villainy into his handsome mask. The scene in which, after bludgeoning his wife to death, he sits in his blood-splattered bedroom listening to a phone-sex recording is truly chilling.

After a suspenseful beginning, the movie, which costars Christopher Meloni and Louise Fletcher, hits a big brick wall with Tuesday's conclusion. It recounts in exhausting detail a tedious, frustrating battle by Bertinelli to gain custody of Ontkean's son.

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