ALAS, THE THREE-HANKIE, MADE-FOR-TV movie may never be the same. With the airing of Remembrance on Sept. 2 and Full Circle on Sept. 9, followed by the miniseries The Ring in late October—all specially tailored for NBC—Danielle Steel, one of America’s most cherished and adapted authors, is officially bidding adieu to the medium. Twenty made-for-TV films or miniseries after it all began in 1990 with Kaleidoscope, Steel’s NBC contract has expired, and she is packing it in. We all wish her well, don’t we?
Steel is certainly going out with a bang—three shows in two months. And The Ring, the last stop on this farewell tour, has some authentic star power: Nastassja Kinski, Michael York and Linda Lavin. Not that the other productions are chopped liver, with TV drama queen Angie Dickinson, Northern Exposure’s Teri Polo and L.A. Law’s Corbin Bernsen holding down the fort. No sirree, Bob.
The whole extravaganza kicks off with a typical Steel potboiler. In Remembrance, Eva LaRue plays a lovely Italian princess who marries into a family headed by the conniving Dickinson. Coldly informing her daughter-in-law that the newlywed husband can never be President while married to an “exotic” foreigner, Dickinson, a miracle of tackiness, offers to write her a $100,000 check if only she’ll pack up and leave town.
LaRue, as innocent and meek as Dickinson is meddling and scheming, refuses the money. But she does put her John Hancock on an agreement that cuts her out of the will should her husband check out. Which—you guessed it—he quickly does. But LaRue lands on her feet, soon becoming a world-famous model and marrying a dashing Greek photographer. Unfortunately, he is also a junkie and thus does not make a very good husband. But eventually things work out for the best. Well, sort of.
It would be a disservice to the English language to use the word “good” to describe Remembrance. The characters are cartoonish, the plots are absurd, and the acting is spotty. But Steel’s ability to bounce characters from one zany situation to the next does hold the viewer’s interest. And, in her defense, the personalities of these jet-setters are hardly more preposterous or offensive than those of the real jet-setters upon whom they are based. Maybe Danielle Steel is secretly our greatest satirist. Then again, maybe not.