NBC (Mon., Oct. 10, 9 p.m. ET)
Not since the last Mare Winningham movie have I seen an actress work so hard for an Emmy. Meredith (Family Ties) Baxter Birney plays a retarded woman who has lived in an institution for 30 years. But with spunk and pluck and all that, she overcomes obstacles and tries to write a book. It is an actress’s dream: to look like hell and show raw, unvarnished emotion with nothing but the contortion of a face. Baxter Birney even contorts her voice, taking on an unearthly combination of Minnie Mouse and Edith Bunker. She means well. So does the movie. So does co-star David (St. Elsewhere) Morse as her boyfriend. But as much as it tries to pay tribute to these people, it ends up making them look like dolls in a gift shop.