By
March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

CBS (Sun., March 7, 9 p.m. ET, Tues., March 9, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

If Richard Chamberlain is king of the miniseries, then Peter Strauss has to be the genre’s Dorian Gray. At 52, Strauss (Masada, Kane & Abel) still looks as ruggedly youthful today as he did 23 years ago when he and a now-craggy Nick Nolte costarred as brothers in one of TV’s first minis, Rich Man, Poor Man. But his boyish face may be Strauss’s misfortune in Seasons of Love, which spans almost four decades in the lives of Thomas Linthorne, a post-Civil War Ohio farmer (Strauss, who’s also credited as an “executive consultant”), and his wife, Kate (The Thorn Birds’ Rachel Ward). Even after he grows a moustache (and later, a scraggly beard), Strauss simply lacks the seasoning and range required to play an aging, domineering patriarch trying to raise three headstrong children. In contrast, Ward, as his exasperated spouse, matures believably from radiant belle to ailing grandmother.

Strauss’s credibility aside, there’s a rousing good story here (based on George Dell’s 1938 novel, The Earth Abideth). As Tom Linthorne rises from dirt-poor sodbuster to prosperous landowner, he commits murder and adultery, succumbs to snobbishness and just plain mule-headedness, suffers and repents (perhaps too late). Director Daniel Petrie (Fort Apache, The Bronx) keeps the plot moving so briskly he barely has room for veterans Rip Torn and Hume Cronyn as two of the Linthornes’ lifelong neighbors. Even so, both add heft to this rich potboiler.

Bottom Line: Old-fashioned family saga that will draw you in

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