Although the level of telepix has risen impressively over the years, relapses are obviously possible. From its opening bloodbath to its resolution as the good guys finally hold the bad guys at bay in slow motion, NBC’s latest Sunday special slogs through the repertory of killer-thriller cliches, familiarity breeding contempt at every turn.
Killer kooks terrorize Los Angeles; 9-year-old Gregory White (Keegan Macintosh) witnesses one onslaught, and he alone has had a good look at the murderers. But he is autistic and communicates only through drawings, which he executes with awesome accuracy — despite unseemly bullying by Detective Frank Marlow (Kelsey Grammer) and social worker Pamela Sutton (Polly Draper), which might have driven Rembrandt off his rocker.
The boy’s sketches succeed in pinpointing the criminals, need one add, outstripping what the assembled forces of the LAPD under chief detective Jason Flaboe (Dean Stockwell) are unable to do. OK?
Nokay; at this point scripter David Venable’s plot, under director Mimi Leder , goes into a holding pattern, lurching its way through a tacked-on mass of clutter to its inevitable end.
The premise — defective outpoints detective — is promising if not exactly new; as the autistic child, the enchanting Keegan Macintosh is alone able to steer clear of the cliches that befoul the film as a whole.
Oh, yes, there’s one truly original touch. The detective and the social worker do not go off arm-in-arm at the end. Sequels loom.