Hard-edged attorney Maggie Zombro (Kay Lenz) gets rounded off a bit in this episode of sophomore NBC series, though she’s still a long way from eligibility for the Association of Sensitive Screen Women. An interesting and talented actress, Lenz pulls it off.
Having successfully and remorselessnessly negotiated the parole hearing of killer Jonathan Bruner (Lindsey Ginter), Zombro faces two traumatic experiences: the death of her long-ailing mother and the murder of Bruner by the mom (Carrie Snodgress) of one of his victims.
Series regulars including Marlee Matlin, Mark Harmon and Tim Grimm are fine as ever as attorney Tess Kaufman, her partner/interpreter Dicky Cobb, and her former husband, Bruce Kaufman, turning in relatively subtle performances in a series that aims for (and usually hits) a plateau of class in its genre.
But the episode belongs to Lenz, Snodgress and semi-regular Leslie Jordan as a Southern lawyer practicing in the series’ home base, Chicago.
The role of the murder victim’s avenging mother affords ample opportunity for scenery chewing, which Snodgress commendably keeps to a minimum, her rage manifesting itself in ice, rather than the more obvious fire.
Jordan is becoming one of the series’ best characters as Sizemore, who waxes as folksy as Ben Matlock with far less favorable effect on the judge (who can take only so much artificial cornpone) and jury.
The producers evidently felt that Lenz’s flinty character had gone about as far as possible and are sending her into an unlikely–if, perhaps, momentary–coupling with longtime antagonist Cobb, who’s been running short in the romance department since the murder of his girlfriend several episodes ago.
Subplot, where the car belonging to hearing-impaired Tess keeps getting impounded because she is unaware that the horn is stuck, is n.s.f.; her confrontation with the impound clerk is a cliche common to virtually any film scene involving a government bureaucrat.