February 06, 1989 12:00 PM

PBS, Wed., Feb. 1, 8 p.m. ET


My 27th Rule of TV: Any show that seems to be good enough to deserve a remake is probably good enough to be left alone. Raisin was a trailblazing 1959 play and a respected 1961 film about a poor black family in Chicago who tried to break free of the ghetto and move into a white neighborhood. Now comes the TV remake, which reinstates two scenes and one character that were cut from Lorraine Hansberry’s original script—lengthening the play to three hours but adding no new interpretation. Instead of making Raisin look like a classic, this production makes it look like a period piece. Esther (Good Times) Rolle puts in the best and most restrained performance as the head of the family. Danny Glover plays her dreamy son Walter with overdone movement and melodrama. And with the exception of Starletta DuPois as Glover’s wife, the rest of the characters are only dated caricatures—of a feminist, of a black man who acts white, of a white man who acts wimpy and of an African. Too bad that American Playhouse didn’t choose to begin its eighth season with something new.

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