Scripter Richard Rashke won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage (in the Georgia Gazette) of the actual case on which “Justice in a Small Town” is based; but lackluster pacing and an overall sense of routine in this NBC re-creation, from Hill/Fields Prods. and under Jan Egleson’s direction, do not quite define the motivations of either heroes or villains.
High-level corruption in a Georgia governmental office stirs the anger of a civil service employee (Kate Jackson); she enlists a fellow worker (John Shea) in a whistle-blowing attempt, placing jobs, lives and families at risk.
Under the thumb of its sleazoid boss (the ubiquitous Dean Stockwell), the Georgia Dept. of Labor is shown to be a veritable snakepit of sleaze: hiked expense accounts, kickbacks, drugs and sexual harassment.
Before Jackson and Shea can get their story through to an FBI deus ex machina (Gustave Johnson), they undergo the familiar round of house-torching, car-smashing and the like.
Surely writer Rashke’s award-winning reportage soared free of the baggage that clutters his vidpic retelling — such items as that the single-mom-heroine’s two children (Megan Gallagher, Rand Courtney) are bratty even by network-movies-from-hell standards.
Her stiff upper lip fixed into an inflexible frown, Jackson endures and endures; viewers may resist the invitation to do likewise.