Picks and Pans Review: Blind Faith

updated 02/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Feb. 11, 9 P.M. ET)

B-

The network did better by true crime author Joe McGinniss with its adaptation of his Fatal Vision than it does with this docudrama about Rob Marshall, the New Jersey salesman who paid to have his heavily insured wife murdered in 1984.

It's a faithful if truncated rendering of McGinniss's book (see page 42). But it's completely lacking McGinniss's heady tone of indignation. That's because the center (Robert Urich as Marshall) will not hold long or hard enough to be railed at. Urich simply cannot plumb the amoral depths of this character, and he's such a familiar, genial TV face that you maintain residual sympathy for him long after the hearty bonhomie has been stripped away to reveal the callow, materialistic monster underneath.

Blind Faith also hamstrings itself by devoting too much time to the anguish and divided loyalties of Marshall's three young sons in the aftermath of the murder. There are a number of good performances here, including Doris Roberts as a faithful family friend, Joe Spano as a neighbor, William Forsythe as the shady former policeman from Shreveport, La., whose testimony helps convict Marshall, Kevin Dunn as the cop in charge of the investigation and Dennis Farina, mongoose-sharp as always, as the prosecutor.

But Blind Faith, which concludes on Monday, should have taken a chance with a less familiar actor in the lead (as Fatal Vision did with Gary Cole). As it is, the mini cannot escape its air of unreality. It's an interesting story, ploddingly told.

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