You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cbs Sunday Movie a Family of Strangers

Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979's "The Miracle Worker,""A Family of Strangers" is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic's pretty good.

With:
Cast: Melissa Gilbert, Patty Duke, Martha Gibson, Gordon Clapp, Chuck Shamata , Eric McCormack, Ashley Rogers, John Shaw, Stephen Dimopoulos, Melody Ryane, Tasha Simms, Michael Iacobucci, Dax Belanger, Peter Stebbings, Leslie Hopps, Michelle Beaudoin, Cocky Martin, Christina Jastrzembska, Susan Chapple.

Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good.

Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a Seattle woman who discovers she has a rare, but treatable, brain condition. If there is a history of strokes in Lawson’s family, though, her doctor (Melody Ryane) will not risk an operation.

Only then does Julie discover the secret hidden by her father, that she’s (gasp!) adopted. Thus begins a search for her birth parents, to discover whether there’s a history of strokes in their families.

Julie, a professional researcher, tracks down mom Beth Thompson (Duke) with remarkable ease, though it takes a while to get Thompson to admit that she is the mother. Tracking down the father, who may be one of several people, is somewhat more difficult and constitutes the mystery portion of the progressively involving story, said to be based on a true incident and nicely scripted by William Gough and Anna Sandor.

Certain aspects are rather pat: Thompson was raped, but she had a pretty good idea of the rapist’s identity; Thompson was very easy to locate, and both Thompson and her pal Sue (Martha Gibson) conveniently hoard memorabilia.

Gilbert and Duke turn in strong, believable perfs, and William Shatner is restrained as Gilbert’s hand-wringing adoptive father.

Among the supporting cast, Gibson is notable as Duke’s lifetime friend, and Gordon Clapp menaces as the most heavily featured of the prospective fathers. Eric McCormack appears briefly as Julie’s estranged husband, evidently around to further demonstrate her resoluteness.

Director Sheldon Larry keeps the action moving swiftly and with little padding; tech credits are OK.

If there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s to let your kids know early that they’re adopted. “Beth Thompson gave me life,” Lawson reassures Shatner’s character. “You gave me love.”

Cbs Sunday Movie a Family of Strangers

(Sun. (21), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Alliance Communications Corp. Executive producers, Robert Lantos, Michael Weisbarth; co-executive producer, Frank P. Rosenberg; producers, William Gough, John Ryan; director, Sheldon Larry; script, William Gough, Anna Sandor, based on the book "Jody" by Jerry Hulse.

Crew: Camera, Ron Orieux; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, David Jaquest; art director, Randy Chodak; sound, Michael T. Williamson; music, Peter Manning Robinson.

Cast: Cast: Melissa Gilbert, Patty Duke, Martha Gibson, Gordon Clapp, Chuck Shamata , Eric McCormack, Ashley Rogers, John Shaw, Stephen Dimopoulos, Melody Ryane, Tasha Simms, Michael Iacobucci, Dax Belanger, Peter Stebbings, Leslie Hopps, Michelle Beaudoin, Cocky Martin, Christina Jastrzembska, Susan Chapple.

More TV

  • Zachary Lutsky

    'The Resident' Consultant Under Review Amid 'Code Black' Sexual Harassment Claims

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • Vince Gilligan Reveals Biggest 'Breaking Bad'

    'Breaking Bad' Creator Vince Gilligan on Disagreements in the Writers' Room

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • Supergirl

    'Supergirl': Amy Jackson Talks Saturn Girl Being 'More Than Her Relationship' With Mon-El

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • Sergio Mora Sergio Mora in action

    Mark Burnett Revives Boxing Series 'The Contender' With Epix, Paramount Television

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • The Alienist Review

    TV Review: 'The Alienist' on TNT

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • Desus & Mero

    Viceland Faces Canada Shutdown After Rogers, Vice End Joint Venture

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

  • vice_logo

    British Presenter Details Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior by Vice Media

    Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good. Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content