Picks and Pans Review: Forbidden Nights

updated 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/09/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Tues., April 10, 9 P.M. ET)

D

Melissa Gilbert stars in a jumbled fact-based movie as an American doctoral candidate who was invited to teach in China's Hunan Province in 1979. The film pursues some moderately interesting political threads, but only until it can get Gilbert into bed with one of her students (Liang Heng) for the illicit passion referred to in the title.

Gilbert is overblown and ingratiating. Ah, but what a counterrevolutionary! She soon has her befuddled class reading stories from the New Yorker while she lectures them on moral ambiguity. She phones in a report on a student strike to the Beijing bureau of the New York Times. She even tricks the college bureaucrats into throwing her a dance party, and soon the whole student body is up and discoing to the strains of the Bee Gees. Another two weeks in the country and she probably would have opened a Chick-Fil-A franchise right on campus.

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