Picks and Pans Review: How to Murder a Millionaire

updated 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Wed., May 23.9 P.M. ET)


The death knell for any fad is when jokes about it start popping up in TV movies. So the lambada craze is hereby pronounced officially over. The forbidden dance figures fairly prominently in this frantic comedy. In a Ruthless People knockoff, Joan Rivers plays a Beverly Hills matron—one of those ladies whose lives revolve around lunch, shopping and beauty treatments that make her look like a contestant on Super Sloppy Double Dare. When her mechanically inept husband (Alex Rocco) installs a tub massager that nearly electrocutes her, she becomes convinced he is trying to kill her.

Discomfittingly strident as always, Rivers becomes a reverse Cinderella, fleeing her mansion to go on the run—make that on the slum—with a larcenous maid (Telma Hopkins). Really the only member of the cast with funny moments is Designing Women's Meshach Taylor, as Hopkins's two-bit crook of a boyfriend.

The gags and story development are painfully obvious, but at least the comedy is lively right up until it gets strangled by its own plot twists.

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