Thrown for a 100-yard loss when Fox grabbed its treasured Sunday afternoon/early evening football coverage, CBS comes up with another fumble with a vidpic series based on Canada's phenomenally successful Harlequin Romance paperbacks. True to the genre, "Treacherous Beauties" offers flesh-kneading, heavy panting and torn-apart loyalties in full measure, with enough plotting loose ends to resemble grandmother's favorite shawl.

Thrown for a 100-yard loss when Fox grabbed its treasured Sunday afternoon/early evening football coverage, CBS comes up with another fumble with a vidpic series based on Canada’s phenomenally successful Harlequin Romance paperbacks. True to the genre, “Treacherous Beauties” offers flesh-kneading, heavy panting and torn-apart loyalties in full measure, with enough plotting loose ends to resemble grandmother’s favorite shawl.

Anxious to solve her brother’s murder, employed under an assumed name in the household where the secret may lie buried, famous photographer Anne Marie Kerr (Emma Samms) first spies her prime suspect, Jason Hollister (Bruce Greenwood), bare-chested at work in his horse barn. Within seconds the two are breathing into each other’s nostrils, although full consummation still lies several commercial breaks ahead.

By that time, however, enough secrets from the fearful Hollister family, presided over by stiff-backed dowager Lettie (Tippi Hedren), have surfaced to stock a year of “Falcon Crest” episodes. Most of the fun here is in predicting the verbal cliches seconds before they happen — and in that the resemblance to TV football may be closer than you think: “You have a lot to give someone,” a local cop (Ron White) tells Anne Marie. “I want to wake up next to you from now on,” proposes the lovelorn Jason.

Paced by director Charles Jarrott so lethargically that you wait for the commercials to liven things up, and with Jody Collero’s cocktail lounge background score to siphon off any residual energy, the film does offer some snazzy Canadian woodsy scenery, in the picture-postcard framing of Malcolm Cross’ camera.

And when all else fails, as it often does, there’s a darling newborn colt to steal hearts.

Cbs Sunday Afternoon Showcase Treacherous Beauties

(Sun. (25), 4-6 p.m., CBS)

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Alliance Communications Corp., CBS, CTV and UFA. Executive producers, Jim Henshaw, Stephane Reichel; producer, Ian McDougall; director, Charles Jarrott; writers, Naomi Janzen, Henshaw, based on the novel by Cheryl Emerson.

Crew

Camera, Malcolm Cross; editor, Bill Goddard; production designer , David Davis; art director, Nonie Ferguson; sound, Dan Latour; music, Jody Collero.

Cast

Cast: Emma Samms, Catherine Oxenberg, Bruce Greenwood, Tippi Hedren, Mark Humphrey, Ron White, Paul R. Rutledge, Thomas S. Jay, Ian D. Clark, Rachael Crawford, Krista Bridges, Alejandro Pereira, Silvio Oliviero, Matt Cooke, Edith Pankus, Tom Harvey, Akim Triebsch.

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