Picks and Pans Review: First Born
updated 06/19/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/19/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
This three-part BBC mini-series (the second and third installments are shown the next two weeks) is about a gorilla who gives birth to a half-human baby named Gor—through artificial insemination, thankfully. Let's hear it for the Brits, who present this preposterous hokum with absolutely straight faces. Charles (The Jewel in the Crown) Dance stars as an English geneticist who pulls off the experiment, which he must keep secret lest the scientific community appear amoral. Besides, his achievement could stir up the Mother's Day industry ("Thanks for the two dozen bananas. Love, Mom").
Although Dance's boss orders him to destroy the hybrid male infant, he can't bring himself to do it. Instead, he places the baby in a foster home and monitors its development—Gor takes after his father (whew!), so he passes for normal. There are clues that this boy is, well, different, though: He makes grunting noises and has a strange fondness for climbing trees. But since he doesn't carry around photos of Fay Wray or Sigourney Weaver, no one catches on. This adaptation of Maureen Duffy's novel, Gor Saga, tries to explore questions of scientific responsibility and of what we consider to be human. But there are many missing links. Some characters, such as Dance's wife, Julie Peas-good, are all but ignored. The dramatic flow is chopped up by commercials, too.
Even so, who could resist sticking around to the end when Gor—now a young man played by Jamie Foster—is reunited with his birth mom? One can almost hear Joel Grey singing "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes."