Filmed in North Carolina and Los Angeles by WildRice Prods. in association with CBS Entertainment. Executive producer, Joel S. Rice; co-executive producer, Joan Green; producer, Jeffrey Morton; director, Armand Mastroianni; writers, Sara Flanigan, Rama Laurie Stagner; camera, James Bagdonas; editor, Scott Vickrey; production designer, James Allen; sound, Peter Bentley; music, Ron Ramin. TX:Cast: Josie Bissett, Jason Gedrick, James B. Sikking, Chad Lowe, Terry Loughlin, Lorri Lindberg, Joe Inscoe, Michael Genevie, Jill Eikenberry, David Lenthall, Judy Simpson Cook, Dottie Grissom-Hardin, Mark Jeffrey Miller, Zach Hanner, Gina Stewart, Mable Robinson, Hope Malpass, Amy Bush, Lou Criscuolo, Meredith Strange-Boston, Michael Burgess, Christopher Canola, Barry Bell, Chadwick Corey. The title of this vidpic may be the web’s challenge to viewers to embrace this melodrama. But even with a well-paced story by scribes Sara Flanigan and Rama Laurie Stagner, “Dare to Love” is otherwise uneventful fare that is hampered by stilted perfs by its principals, several of whom don’t reach very far beyond their previously played characters. Story highlights the trials and tribulations of Jessica Wells (Josie Bissett) , who eschews her wealth and blueblood surroundings for the more satisfying life of helping disabled children.
But she seemingly adopts the craziness of her “Melrose Place” role — the actress does better in her craziness than in her “normal” scenes — as she starts hearing the radio when it’s off and voices when she’s alone.
Jason Gedrick rounds out the high-cheekboned pair as Patrick, Wells’ fiance, who helps her navigate the maze of despair and schizophrenic behavior that moves into high gear with the death of her brother, Stephen (Chad Lowe).
While covering the pair’s changing relationship, story also delves into Wells’ fight to re-establish ties to her family and her once-idyllic life.
Though the medicos suggest Wells likely will spend the rest of her life in a mental institution, Patrick’s unequivocal love for the wacky wife-to-be and the possibilities offered by a new drug, Clozapine, make the gloomy prognosis unacceptable.
Wells’ recovery is affected by the back story that her mother, Alicia (Jill Eikenberry), is reliving the events of her own mother’s mental illness, which nearly destroyed the family.
Wells’ father, Ron (James B. Sikking), has trouble articulating his feelings, but makes it clear that it is Alicia’s responsibility to ensure the daughter’s recovery.
Sikking and Eikenberry deftly play out this high drama, but credibility is stretched when they transform from stuffy-yet-agonized parents in act one to an enlightened pair by show’s end.
Despite its brevity, Lowe’s perf as the charismatic brother is credible and well-placed, though his pivotal demise comes before he can establish much of a connection with viewers.
No excuse for Gedrick: His early arrival on the scene allows for sympathy from viewers before the drama kicks in, but he never establishes a link with the audience, because the actor fails to convey his conflicting feelings. (Gedrick may have been drawn to the role because the character is the ultimate nice guy, an acute contrast to his current post as a smarmy bad boy in need of a good defense attorney on “Murder One.”)
A couple of well-placed musical offerings and solid shot selection by director of photography James Bagdonas aid show’s dramatic underpinnings.
Director Armand Mastroianni lets his experienced cast play everything safe and smooth; while the vidpic could have tugged mightily on viewers’ heartstrings , it does so infrequently, partly because the helmer apparently chose to save the drama for Bissett’s overwrought mood swings.