ABC (Mon., April 15, 9 P.M. ET)
James Woods plays a Hollywood writer who develops lung cancer, presumably from daily contact with his longtime chain-smoking collaborator (John Lithgow). Eve Gordon and Joanna Gleason play the women in their lives. William Link wrote the script, loosely based on his own partnership with the late Richard Levinson, with whom he created such hit series as Mannix, McCloud, Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. (In real life, it was Levinson who was the three-pack-a-day chimney. He died of a massive coronary in 1987.)
To its detriment, the movie never really confronts any of the issues it raises. Instead it attempts to treat Woods’s final days with a sort of Odd Couple gallows humor—though Link’s stale dialogue is more Simple Simon than Neil.
Lithgow gets all the showbizzy blather, as when he discusses a project with a producer on the phone: “You’ll get it. We’re the old pros, right? You’ll get it good, and you’ll get it quick.”
Woods gets such babble as, “I feel incomplete, like a left glove waiting for a right glove. My old problem…incompleteness.”
Since his character is a recovering alcoholic (yet another undeveloped theme), Woods does get to play a scene at an AA meeting. In his last TV role two seasons ago, Woods portrayed AA founder Bill Wilson. It’s fitting that the evening’s only ironic note should be struck unintentionally.