Picks and Pans Review: Howard Beach: Making the Case for Murder

updated 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Mon., Dec. 4, 9 P.M. ET)

B-

This TV movie is based on the notorious racial incident in New York City in which a gang of young white men chased three blacks who had wandered onto their turf. One of the black men fled onto a highway and was killed by a car.

Daniel J. Travanti gives a restrained but credible portrayal as prosecutor Joe Hynes, and Dan (The Wonder Years) Lauria brings a winsome charm to the role of his assistant.

Howard Beach has not been rushed into production (since the incident in 1986, three of the gang members have been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter). Because of that time lapse, the drama carries more moral conviction' than most of these torn-from-the-headlines sagas.

Despite its admirable probity, Howard Beach builds very little dramatic momentum as it makes its case, and as a result, its impact is less than it might have been.

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