Picks and Pans Review: The Man in the Brown Suit

updated 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Wed., Jan. 4, 9 p.m. ET)

B-

Agatha Christie movies have replaced The Love Boat as an employment service for moonlighting and underexposed actors. In this, the eighth Christie mystery made for TV, Tony Randall hams up the whole pig farm playing a rogue who disguises himself as both a doddering priest and a secretary in drag. Edward Woodward poofs up a storm as a rich and pompous twit. Rue McClanahan drawls aplenty as an oft-married Southern man-killer. Simon Dutton is dashing in the title role. And Stephanie Zimbalist as an adventuresome photographer from Buffalo is, well, Stephanie Zimbalist: pretty and sweet. They are all thrown together in a mystery about some missing diamonds, some dead people, a cruise ship and an evil colonel, none of which makes sense until the end, when the characters explain what has been happening, in case we haven't been paying attention (and we have had little reason to). The plot is a trinket. But at least the locations—in tropical Spain, masquerading as Africa—are intriguing. And in these uncertain economic times, it is nice to see actors getting work—especially Zimbalist. She's a pleasant presence on the tube and ought to get herself a new series so she doesn't have to take parts in these latter-day Love Boats.

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