NBC (Sun.-Tues., March 22-24, 9 p.m. ET)
Murder’s better the second time around. In January, CBS gave us At Mother’s Request, a sloppy, C—mini starring Stefanie Powers as Frances Schreuder, a sick and greedy woman who had her son kill her father for money. Now NBC gives us its version of the same 1978 crime with a script based on Shana Alexander’s best-seller, direction by video veteran Paul (All in the Family) Bogart, and Lee Remick playing the killer mommy. What a difference a little talent makes. From the opening credits, Nutcracker grips you and doesn’t let loose for six hours. Overhead cameras, sweet and spooky music and imaginative sound editing give the show a fresh and captivating look. Nutcracker even has the guts to use courtroom scenes to speed up the action—a murder movie first. The script is intelligent, not trying—as Request did—to make Schreuder seem at all sane or sympathetic. And the acting here is a world’s better: Elizabeth (Morningstar/Eveningstar) Wilson as Remick’s mom, G.D. (Space) Spradlin as her dad, Inga (Benson) Swenson as her enemy sister and Tate Donovan and Frank Military as her sons are all fine. John (An Early Frost) Glover as Schreuder’s weird one-man fan club does a super job with an odd part. But this is Remick’s show. She can pull off anything—playing a college coed, a society maven or a psychotic. She is simply wonderful.