Unfocused second half of this melodrama helps kill any believability in the characters or their tragic situation in "In My Daughter's Name." Main message gleaned from telepic is to never accept a ride from a stranger, even if he's cute and has a BMW.

Unfocused second half of this melodrama helps kill any believability in the characters or their tragic situation in “In My Daughter’s Name.” Main message gleaned from telepic is to never accept a ride from a stranger, even if he’s cute and has a BMW.

Perky teen Ari Meyers has a normal relationship with mom Donna Mills: She’s irresponsible and self-centered, warm and caring about her boyfriend and family–typical teenage contradictions.

Sent out to purchase napkins for dad John Getz’s surprise birthday party, she agrees to let rich college kid (and stranger) Peter (Adam Storke) drive her home after discovering that mom’s car won’t start and she realizes what big trouble she’ll get into if she’s late for the bash.

Events turn scary when Storke doesn’t, of course, take her home, but rapes and kills her.

This first half of telepic works very well–the audience feels the family’s pain and horror. But when Storke’s trial begins, the script degenerates into an “L.A. Law” reject.

Storke’s defense attorney Ron Frazier is over-the-top repulsive, and John Rubinstein’s D.A. character doesn’t seem to have a clear grasp of the law, although the actor’s performance is quite good.

Believability factor is stretched to the limit when the slimy defense attorney wins his case with the unintentionally funny Chinese food theory–an expert pharmacologist testifies that a mixture of Chinese food, asthma medication and diet soft drinks turned poor, innocent Storke into a crazed rapist and killer, trivializing a most heinous and serious crime.

Audiences won’t swallow it.

With Storke free, Mills turns vigilante and the outcome is pretty obvious.

The drama that might have come out of Mills’s quest for justice is negated by the fact that Storke is so obviously guilty as well as the fact that the authorities won’t re-investigate the case, which gives her only one outlet for her anger.

The telepic condones “justified” murder and script’s focus is so muddled that viewers won’t be able to get a grip on the arc of the story.

Also, review tape had no music or sound effects, and some dialogue was missing from the soundtrack. Their inclusion probably wouldn’t have helped.

Cbs Sunday Night Movie in My Daughter's Name

(Sun. (10), 9-11 p.m., CBS-TV)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Cates/Doty Prods. Exec producers, Gilbert Cates, Donna Mills; producer, Dennis Doty; associate producer, Peggy Griffin; director, Jud Taylor; written by Mimi Rothman Schapiro and Bill Wells based on a screenplay by Sharon Michaels.

Crew

Camera, Kees Van Oostrum; sound, Richard Lightstone; music, Charles Fox; editor, Jerry Ludwig; production design, Lisa Smithline.

Cast

Cast: Donna Mills, Lee Grant, John Rubinstein, Adam Storke, John Getz, Ari Meyers, Ellen Blain, Roger Floyd, Anthony Johnson, Brian Smiar, Lou Beatty Jr., Abraham Alvarez, Lyndsey Fields, Gil Cates Jr., Seth Isler, James R. Sweeney, Eric Menyuk, Bruce Hollis, Lillian Lehman, Luana Anders, Dustin Taylor, Liz Georges, Marnie Andrews, Toni Jones, Michael Sollenberger, Timothy Brook, Mark Davenport, Joshua Thomas.
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