Lifetime’s “And Then There Was One” turns the cameras on two television writers who find themselves in the midst of the worst tragedy imaginable when they and their daughter are diagnosed with AIDS. Based on the lives of Roxy and Vinnie Ventola, who wrote sitcom episodes for Norman Lear, this wet-eyed drama doesn’t grab you by the throat until midway through. But when the emotion and consequences of the disease begin to play out, the telepic reaches the higher ground of quality programming.
Director David Jones holds the reins a bit tight at the start, as the lives of the Ventolas — played solidly by Amy Madigan and Dennis Boutsikaris — are rosy, and the word “AIDS” isn’t uttered for nearly the entire first half-hour. When Rama Laurie Stagner’s emotional script begins to explore the life of a family whose members are all diagnosed with AIDS, Jones loosens up the feel of the production, which allows the acting, especially by Madigan and Boutsikaris, and the script’s dialogue to really shine.
The script is not without fault, though. Attempts to push political messages break the pace at the wrong times.
Jane Daly plays a great pal to the family as Vinnie and stricken toddler Miranda begin to succumb to the disease.
Andrew Dunn’s camera paints a hazy, misty tone that complements the drama, but Toronto just doesn’t cut it as Hollywood. Where are the palm trees?
Lifetime has given the viewing public a compelling tragedy in which the disease is a bit player and the human subjects take centerstage.