ABC, developer of the early 90-minute Movies of the Week, which leaned heavily on such things, returns to the would-be snappy scary murder mystery format, and if 120 minutes (minus pitches) is too long, the form still has its pluses.

ABC, developer of the early 90-minute Movies of the Week, which leaned heavily on such things, returns to the would-be snappy scary murder mystery format, and if 120 minutes (minus pitches) is too long, the form still has its pluses.

The shaky teleplay by Mimi Rothman Schapiro and Bill Wells moves along well enough under Alan Metzger’s careful direction; “Exclusive” should hold its viewership.

TV anchor Suzanne Somers is facing a new station boss (Scott Bryce) who’s figuratively gunning for her, an ex-husband (Joe Cortese) who’s a cop and doesn’t much care for her, and a new husband (Michael Nouri) who won’t talk about his past, present or future and who lies to her.

After an anonymous phone call, Somers unbelievably sets off alone to a back-alley saloon where she discovers half-a-dozen corpses. Her producer, Ed Begley Jr., the one person she feels she can trust, pulls for her, and boss Bryce is delighted she’s again an “investigative reporter,” as he redundantly notes. Mysterious calls, a masked man attacking her at home, waist shots of unknown men prowling near her, a death’s head on a chain are all calculated to build suspense; Somers, aware that the mass slayer may be someone close to her, does nothing for credibility when she ventures alone down dark streets or into darkened buildings. Her disregard of danger is contrived, and her reporting is negligible.

The telefilm’s hardly a reach for reality, but the actors perform ably enough. Somers plays out the role in appropriately spunky fashion, and Nouri makes the preoccupied, brooding husband acceptable.

Begley turns in another pro perf and Cortese acts plenty tough. Kelly Rowan as a new weather reporter on the way up is a winner.

If it’s not much of a guess who the killer is, at least the vidpic, bypassing disease telepix and based-on-a-true-story pitfalls, offers diversion. “Exclusive” looks good and is helped by David Michael Frank’s right-on score.

The ABC Sunday Night Movie Exclusive

Sun. (4), 9-11 p.m., ABC-TV

Production

Filmed around L.A. by Hamel-Somers Prods. and Freyda Rothstein Prods. in association with Hearst Entertainment. Exec producer, Freyda Rothstein; co-exec producers, Suzanne Somers, Alan Hamel; co-producers/writers, Mimi Rothman Schapiro, Bill Wells; director, Alan Metzger.

Crew

Camera, Geoffrey Erb; editor, Mark Conte; sound, Jim Thornton; music, David Michael Frank; production designer, Paul Peters.

Cast

Cast: Suzanne Somers, Ed Begley Jr., Joe Cortese, Scott Bryce, Kelly Rowan, Jerry Adler, Michael Nouri, James Pickens Jr., Eric Poppic, Audrie Neenan, Christine Dunsford, Liane Curtis, Lioly Mariye, Kevin McClarnon, Joan Stuart Morris, Kevin McDermot, Andrea Stein, Yolanda Gaskin, Caroline Somers, Raoul Rizik, Ana Mercedez, Jim O'Malley, Thomas Bellin.
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