Picks and Pans Review: My Father's Shadow: the Sam Sheppard Story
updated 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST
Show of the week
This TV movie does some things wrong, yet goes right to the heart. The drama is based on the true story of Sam Reese Sheppard, the son of Dr. Sam Sheppard (Peter Strauss, Moloney), the Cleveland osteopath convicted of the 1954 murder of his wife in the case that inspired the TV series and movie The Fugitive. By the time his conviction was overturned, he had spent almost 10 years in prison and changed from a supremely self-confident professional into a bitter, unstable wreck. Through painful flashbacks, the film brings home the confusion and humiliation of the son (played by Bradley Reid as a small boy and Jonathan Kroeker as a teenager) as he struggles to remain loyal to his notorious but—or so the film argues—innocent father. Strauss plays the older Sheppard with such conviction that his degradation is uncomfortably real. The 1990s part of the story, in which the mature son (Henry Czerny, Glory & Honor) fights to establish his mother's true killer, is burdened by exposition and marred by ill-conceived scenes in which he imagines conversing with his now-dead father's ghost. But flaws aside, this one will hold you.
Bottom Line: Strong drama of the father-son bond