March 01, 1993 12:00 PM

NBC (Mon., March 1, 9p.m. ET)

C+

In this two-parter based on events that took place in L.A. in 1985, Sam Wanamaker and Kim Hunter play an elderly Jewish couple (Gerald and Vera Woodman) who are gunned down in the garage of their condo by hooded assailants. At the funeral a woman with a thick accent comes up to one of their sons. Elliott Gould, and, like the portentous gypsy woman in a werewolf movie, points at him and screeches, “You! How could you do this? Your own parents. Everyone knows how you hated him. [You] wanted him dead.” Eventually Gould and his brother (John Pleshette) are charged with hiring hit men to collect on their mother’s insurance policy.

The movie, which concludes the following night, is an odd hybrid: half murder prosecution and half feminist manifesto. The focus soon settles on the oh-so-slow transformation of Gould’s wife (Mimi Rogers). She begins as a submissive spouse. But once her husband is jailed, her affluent friends turn away, the money dries up, and she grows more independent and assertive—getting a job, starting a romance, dealing with creditors and struggling to keep her rebellious kids in line. (As evidenced by the Amy Fisher movies, TV’s true-crime projects are invariably shaped by which of the principals involved sold his or her rights to the producers. In this case it was the daughter-in-law.)

The flashbacks depicting the wrangling and acrimony among Woodman’s family, all in the plastics manufacturing business, hold a certain crass, lurid fascination. But the emergence of Rogers is tedious. Clancy Brown, Joe Spano and Andy Romano costar.

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