01/20/1992 at 01:00 AM EST
ABC (Mon., Jan. 20, 9 P.M. ET)
Susan Dey gets to play a wonderfully tawdry, though abbreviated, siren song as Texan Vickie Daniel in this movie based on the true-crime book Deadly Blessing. Right from the first scene, when she emerges from a cloud of steam in a tacky uniform so tight and short that sitting down is a major undertaking, Dey is terrific as the drive-in doxy who snares the scion of a powerful Texas political family (Chris Cooper). He helps her negotiate a divorce, woos her fiercely and weds her. The marriage quickly curdles and ends in violence.
The film is psychologically acute, and the scenes of domestic violence, though hard to watch, ring true. The only jarring note is that Dey undergoes a rather sudden and expedient transformation from cheap and flirty to wise and noble once she's married. That shift, however, serves to make her victimization more resonant.
In fact, what you have here is three distinct movies: the passionate engagement, the tragic marriage and the trial. Dey does a fine job in all stages. Mary Kay Place, John Anderson, G. W. Bailey and Fred Dalton Thompson provide strong support.