Pulled in at the last minute to replace Fox’s postponed “The O.J. Simpson Story,””Deadly Vows” is also purported to be drawn from reality. Prototype is Fox’s secret, but if you can imagine Joey Buttafuoco as a delivery-truck driver in Michigan and Amy Fisher as a commercial laundry worker, you can predict the first two-thirds of the script.
Gerald McRaney plays Tom Weston, said truck driver. Bored by his long marriage to Nancy (Peggy Lipton) and spotting withdrawn and naive young Bobbi Gilbert (Josie Bissett) in a bowling alley, he tries to score.
Within a matter of weeks, Bobbi is dressing snappier; it’s not long before he’s talked her into a mock marriage and for-real consummation.
By the middle of the second hour, he’s trying to kill his wife. He’s caught, jailed, and then the story gets ugly as Weston arranges a contract on Bobbi, who’s refusing to testify against him on the grounds that they’re married. Nancy won’t testify, either, for the same reason.
Allof this is handled with a straight face under Alan Metzger’s direction, the cast putting their all into a very familiar story. But if there’s an award-quality performance here, it’s Bissett’s when she bites her lower lip and tells Weston, “I’m not beautiful … nobody’s said anything like that to me before.”
Also, it might be hard for some viewers to accept any man’s wanting to leave Peggy Lipton.
Scripter Philip Rosenberg does what he can with characters dumber than one might like to believe exist in real life — when Weston tells Bobbi that fish have no eyelids (you have to have been there), she replies, wide-eyed “How did you get to be so smart?”– and story picks up remarkably in last 30 minutes.
Strong supporting perfs are given by Venus Terzo as Bobbi’s streetwise friend at the laundry, and especially by Michael MacRae as a world-weary and suspicious police detective — it would be nice to see his character again, in an amplified role; a Canadian (er, Michiganian) Columbo.