The Face on the Milk Carton

Redheaded Janie (Kellie Martin), catching her own face in a 13-year-old photo on a milk carton, starts asking her parents questions like where's her birth certificate, how come there aren't any baby pictures of her around, who is "Hannah," and what's going on with that trunk in the attic? Her parents, Miranda and Frank (Jill Clayburgh, Edward Herrmann), explain as best they can, and they concoct a good enough story.

With:
Cast: Kellie Martin, Jill Clayburgh, Edward Herrmann, Johnny Green, Richard Masur, Sharon Lawrence, Caroline Perreyclear, Kristoffer Ryan Winters, Lori Lindberg, Ellen Lee, Joanna Canton, Leslie Hall, Kawan Rojanatavorn, Paul Dow, Jemila Ericson, H. Lee Freeman, Richard K. Olsen, David Dwyer, John Henry Scott, Tammy Arnold. Loaded with timeliness, Nancy Isaak's teleplay has its ups and downs in tale of a 16-year-old girl discovering she's adopted and probably was kidnapped. When her birth parents turn up, all sorts of emotions are at play, but nothing's really resolved.

Redheaded Janie (Kellie Martin), catching her own face in a 13-year-old photo on a milk carton, starts asking her parents questions like where’s her birth certificate, how come there aren’t any baby pictures of her around, who is “Hannah,” and what’s going on with that trunk in the attic? Her parents, Miranda and Frank (Jill Clayburgh, Edward Herrmann), explain as best they can, and they concoct a good enough story.

But her natural parents, redheaded Jonathan and Sada (Richard Masur, Sharon Lawrence), who live in a neighboring town and have a son and another daughter, want her back, and they have every right. Sada’s an emotional woman who’s waited too long, and it’s tough on her; she and Jonathan want Janie with them.

Director Waris Hussein keeps a good rein on the suds, though the sentimental aspects threaten to engulf everyone at times. A red-maned Martin, who only two weeks ago was playing an abused wife in “If Someone Had Known,” performs suitably enough as the teenager Janie. Clayburgh and Herrmann are believable. Masur’s OK, and Lawrence gives Sada an effective emotional binge.

Caroline Perreyclear, as Janie’s redheaded younger sister, does an admirable job of playing out the tough assignment. Johnny Green, playing Janie’s boyfriend , and Kristoffer Ryan Winters, as her brother, are solid.

Some nice touches: a missing letter being swept up with trash, and Reeve asking Jonathan if he can take Janie to the senior prom. Most intriguing aspect is the mysterious Hannah, whose action started the sadness. Telefilm, which has lots it wants to say, gets burdened down in dialectic. Tech credits are good.

The Face on the Milk Carton

(Wed. (24), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Dorothea G. Petrie Prods. and Family Prods. Inc. Executive producer, Dorothea G. Petrie; producers, Petrie, Robert Silberling. Director, Waris Hussein; writer, Nancy Isaak; based on the novels "The Face on the Milk Carton" and "Whatever Happened to Janie?" by Caroline B. Cooney.

Crew: Camera, Robert Steadman; editor, Charles Bornstein; art director, Natalie Wilson; sound, Steve Smith; music, Leonard Rosenman.

Cast: Cast: Kellie Martin, Jill Clayburgh, Edward Herrmann, Johnny Green, Richard Masur, Sharon Lawrence, Caroline Perreyclear, Kristoffer Ryan Winters, Lori Lindberg, Ellen Lee, Joanna Canton, Leslie Hall, Kawan Rojanatavorn, Paul Dow, Jemila Ericson, H. Lee Freeman, Richard K. Olsen, David Dwyer, John Henry Scott, Tammy Arnold. Loaded with timeliness, Nancy Isaak's teleplay has its ups and downs in tale of a 16-year-old girl discovering she's adopted and probably was kidnapped. When her birth parents turn up, all sorts of emotions are at play, but nothing's really resolved.

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