Picks and Pans Review: Neil Simon's Broadway Bound
ABC (Mon., March 23, 9 P.M. ET)
There must be some mistake. This dolorous TV movie about family tragedy seems more like the work of Arthur Miller or Eugene O'Neill than of one-liner meister Simon. It's certainly significant that this, the final entry in Simon's autobiographical trilogy (following Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues) is the only one not to be made into a feature film.
Corey Parker, who was Melissa's younger lover on thirtysomething, plays the Simon character, Eugene Jerome (originated by Jonathan Silverman on Broadway), as a 22-year-old living at home in Brooklyn with his domestic martyr mother (Anne Bancroft, taking over for Broadway's Linda Lavin), unhappy father (Jerry Orbach) and scrappy grandfather (Hume Cronyn). Eugene's older brother (Silverman, in an effective role switch) is pushing to get himself and his brother jobs as TV comedy writers. Then there's Bancroft's fur-draped sister (Knot's Landing's Michele Lee), who married rich. As snow falls outside and lugubrious cellos saw away, the cast walks around gushing pain and remorse.
Eugene's brother has reduced comedy writing to a scientific formula: "Wanting plus conflict." Well, this film has plenty of conflict (and table pounding and door slamming and kvetching). But the only thing it'll leave you wanting is to see what's on the other channels.
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