CBS (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 9 p.m. ET)
Chad Lowe (Rob’s brother) kills himself and leaves no note, only a few clues to be picked up by his sister, Dana (Shoot the Moon) Hill, and by his parents, Mariette (Goodnight, Beantown) Hartley and Howard (WKRF) Hesseman: He flubbed his SATs; he quit work without telling anyone; he was obsessed with a girl who all but ignored him; he read too much Sylvia Plath. It may sound trivial, but it killed him. There are similarities in Silence to Ordinary People, but the people here are more ordinary, more real; you can feel their pain. Silence is a movie with a message: Teenagers make about 400,000 attempts at suicide each year; their pleas for help often are too quiet to hear. Message movies such as this can’t get their points across without fine scripts and class acting. Hartley pours herself into the part (see page 65); Hill is always a pro; Hesseman puts in a credible performance in a non-comic role; Elizabeth Berridge and Charlie Sheen as Lowe’s best friends are talented discoveries. Silence lacks subtlety in places, particularly at the ending, but it is eloquent enough to be effective.